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"No one who was not actually present when General Nobile and his companions came to grief can rightly judge of the events that followed or can say whether or not Nobile is to be blamed for being the first to leave the ice floe," declared Captain. E. P. Lundborg, who last summer flew to the rescue of Umberto Nobile of the dirigible, Italia, wrecked in the Arctic.
"In my small plane, already heavily laden, I could take off but one man, and my orders were to save the one who most needed aid. Nobile was injured and so was one of his men. The latter was too heavy for the plane, but even when that was obvious, Nobile at first refused to leave his men. At last he was persuaded, and we took him off. That is briefly the story. You must decide for yourselves whether or not the General is to be blamed.
"The accident which occurred in the case of the ill-fated Italia may seem to many just one more reason for condemning the airship as unsafe and impractical, but it is my opinion that, while aviation will never altogether supersede the automobile, the one will eventually supplement the other as a means of travel.
"In a long, narrow country such as Sweden, where the distances between cities are long and where there is water on practically every side, the airplane is already invaluable. There, airlines are one of the most important means of transportation, and the number of accidents on these lines today is smaller than ever before. Those that do occur are due, almost all of them, to the fact that the planes are run on a schedule which requires that they set out at stated intervals, fair weather or foul. The number of such accidents is decreasing year by year, as further advances are made in the invention of such instruments as are helpful to aviators flying in stormy weather.
"Aviation is still in the process of development, and it is very hard to predict its future. Take for example the case of the helicopter. For years they have been endeavoring to perfect a ship which will land perpendicularly, but as yet they have been unsuccessful. While the helicopter makes a nice, little sport machine, I doubt if it will ever be developed as a practical means of eliminating the necessity of a large landing field. Still, things which we thought impossible 20 years ago have now become commonplace, and we really cannot tell what may eventually develop."
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