Zahm, 1911, Aerial Navigation

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Albert Francis Zahm. Aerial Navigation: A Popular Treatise on the Growth of Air Craft and on Aëronautical Meteorology. New York and London: D. Appleton and Company, 1911. (Full-text scan at Internet Archive)

Three main parts: (I) Growth of Aërostation, (II) Growth of Aviation, and (III) Aëronautic Meteorology, with diverse appendices relating to history and mechanics, including the aeronautics-related letters of Benjamin Franklin.

Uses English and French measurement for philosophical as well as practical reasons: "Moreover, the navigation of a universal medium seems to call for such universal standards. Indeed a peculiar mission of world travel is to eliminate provincialism, and to promote universalism of thought, of sentiment, and of custom" (p. vi).

Acknowledges help from U.S. Signal Corps, Smithsonian Institution, and U.S. Weather Bureau.


Focuses on concept of flying and its perceived impossibility through 1901, with an emphasis on the myth of Daedalus. Also describes Jean-Baptiste Dante, a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci who successfully used wings in glider style at Lake Trasimene (p. 13). Goes on to Blanchard machine developed a few years before Montgolfier successes (referring to Chanute, 1894, Progress in Flying Machines). And some intriguing mentions in the 17th century by Jesuits (pp. 20–25).

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