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The Dominion of the Air - J. M. Bacon

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The Dominion of the Air: The Story of Aerial Navigation
by Rev. J. M. Bacon



CHAPTER I.  THE DAWN OF AERONAUTICS.


"He that would learn to fly must be brought up to the constant
practice of it from his youth, trying first only to use his
wings as a tame goose will do, so by degrees learning to rise
higher till he attain unto skill and confidence."

So wrote Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, who was reckoned a man of
genius and learning in the days of the Commonwealth.  But so
soon as we come to inquire into the matter we find that this
good Bishop was borrowing from the ideas of others who had gone
before him; and, look back as far as we will, mankind is
discovered to have entertained persistent and often plausible
ideas of human flight.  And those ideas had in some sort of
way, for good or ill, taken practical shape.  Thus, as long ago
as the days when Xenophon was leading back his warriors to the
shores of the Black Sea, and ere the Gauls had first burned
Rome, there was a philosopher, Archytas, who invented a pigeon
which could fly, partly by means of mechanism, and partly also,
it is said, by aid of an aura or spirit.  And here arises a
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