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"The future of American aviation rests in the hands of the youth of the country, especially in the hands of the college men," stated Lieutenant-Commander Richard Byrd in an interview with a CRIMSON reporter yesterday. "Fortunately, there is something about flying that has captivated the imagination of young Americans. Almost every young boy, for instance, is intensely interested in aeronautics. So long as this spirit persists, our progress in the air will be guaranteed.
Newspapers Hinder Air Progress
"In my opinion, the proper development of aviation has been greatly hindered by the wrong sort of newspaper publicity. In America business men have been discouraged form backing commercial air-lines by the frequent disasters occurring to airplanes, and by the impractical expensive nature of the planes now extant. The fact is that aviation has been prematurely exploited. Airplanes are not yet safe; they are not as yet commercially practicable. It is not sensible to expect that they should be.
"The newspapers in their enthusiasm have painted glowing pictures of an serial age almost at hand. They have given great publicity to each forward step in aeronautics. A few business men have been led to investigate the progress of aviation and have found an industry still embryonic in its development. Aviators are killed daily and planes are inefficient and unsafe compared to their expectations. The result is evident in America today. Interest in commercial aviation is confined to a few enthusiasts. The majority of business men regard its future possibilities with suspicion.
"It should be generally recognized that airplanes are undergoing a slow evolution. Anything of real value is evolved slowly. It is a natural law. Therefore it is wrong to expect planes to be safe, efficient, and generally practicable twenty years after their conception.
"In time, I believe commercial aviation will be one of the greatest industries in the world. Transportation over the seas, especially, will be monopolized by airplanes. Even now a plane can travel four times as fast as the fastest boat, and this fact will always remain true. At present, it does not seem likely that the railroads will be supplanted; airplanes will merely supplement them by affording rapid transit for luxuries and perishable produce.
"Many people are discouraged at present because America seems backward in developing aviation. They must remember that European aerial progress is largely due to government subsidies. In my mind, this sort of progress is artificial and highly undesirable. It is true America is going slowly but she is also building a sound basis for a truly national industry. When the business men of the United States start manufacturing, they will not need a helping hand from the government. Our aerial evolution is slow but thorough."
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