By C J Norman
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The spectacle of one of these great cars, six hundred or more feet long, floating grandly on even keel and with a steady course above one of the compact (p. 076) little towns of South Germany, was one to thrill the pulses. But the ill luck which pursued Count von Zeppelin even in what seemed to be his moments of assured success was remorseless. In 1912 he produced the monster L-I, 525 feet long, 50 feet in diameter, of 776,900 cubic feet capacity, and equipped with three sets of motors, giving it a speed of fifty-two miles an hour.
But after all it was but that darkest hour which comes just before the dawn. The demolition of "No. " had been no accident which reflected at all upon the plan or construction of the craft— unless the great bulk of the ship be considered a fundamental defect. What it did demonstrate was that the Zeppelin, like the one-thousand-foot ocean liner, must have adequate harbour and docking facilities wherever it is to land. The one cannot safely drop down in any convenient meadow, any more than the other can put into any little fishing port.
The aeronaut had rounded the Tower finely and was making for home when the motor began to miss and threatened to stop altogether. While Santos-Dumont was tinkering with the engine, leaving the steering wheel to itself, the balloon drifted over the Bois de Boulogne. As usual the cool air from the wood caused the hydrogen in the balloon to contract and the craft dropped until it appeared the voyage would end in the tree tops. Hastily shifting his weights the aeronaut forced the prow of the ship upwards to a sharp angle with the earth.