..visions of air-ships hovering over a doomed city
April 14, 2011 1 Comment
Military aeronautics, like submarine operations in naval warfare, have been somewhat overrated. Visions of air-ships hovering over a doomed city and devastating it with missiles dropped from above are mere fairy tales. Indeed the whole subject of aeronautics as an element in future human progress has excited far more attention than its intrinsic merits deserve.
A balloon is at the mercy of the wind and must remain so, while a true flying machine, which supports itself in the air by the operation of fans or similar devices, may be interesting as a toy, but cannot have much economical importance for the future. When man has the solid earth upon which to conduct his traffic, without the necessity of overcoming the force of gravitation by costly power, he would be foolish in the extreme to attempt to abandon the advantage which this gives him, and to commit himself to such an element as the air, in which the power required to lift himself and his goods would be immeasurably greater than that needed to transport them from place to place.
The amount of misdirected ingenuity that has been expended on these two problems of submarine and aerial navigation during the nineteenth century will offer one of the most curious and interesting studies to the future historian of technological progress.
– George Sutherland, Twentieth Century Inventions: A Forecast (1901)