Gibbs-Smith, Aviation, 1970

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Charles Harvard Gibbs-Smith. Aviation : an historical survey from its origins to the end of World War II / by Charles Harvard Gibbs-Smith. London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office, 1970. ISBN 11 290013 5.

Revised version of The aeroplane: an historical survey of its origins and development (London, 1960).

One focal point of the book is the presentation of Octave Chanute to the Aéro-Club de France in 1903. Chanute gave a detailed exposition of his own 1896 glider and of the Wrights' recent work, including rudders and wing-warping. Gibbs-Smith puzzles over why Chanute's European audience failed to work harder, given this information, along the necessary lines for developing powered flight. In short, he argues that they underestimated and misconceived the problem at hand, and couldn't believe that Americans were much ahead of them on aviation. (See Chapter 12: "The Beginnings of Practical Aviation in Europe, and Elsewhere: 1902–1908"). His conclusion on this matter (p. 111):

There can be little doubt that if the Europeans had possessed the necessary devotion, humility, and pertinacity, they could—with all the information and clues Chanute provided—have speedily duplicated the Wrights' gliding achievements, and added far-reaching improvements in stability, by the middle of 1904; successful powered flight on the Continent would have followed rapidly thereafter. With the variety of engineering talent available in Europe, the year 1906 (at the latest) should have witnessed there the full conquest of the air, with adequate inherent stability added to the Wrights' control philosophy. The military and political influence of such a development would have proved of prime importance in the history of Europe and of the world.

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