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Planned for seven years, built in three, the blimp, 94 feet long with a fancied resemblance to the Los Angeles, had been intended to stay up indefinitely. Those who watched it careen over Times Square, veering in the wind, agreed that indefiniteness had characterized the flight.
Builder Hamza, not discouraged, plans another voyage.
When night comes down on the eastern U. S., a row of bright eyes reaching from the Atlantic coast over the Alleghenies to the Great Lakes, begins a vigil that lasts till dawn. Motoring through the mountains you come to these eyes one by one, 10 to 25 miles apart. They are searchlights and all night they sweep the sky in steady circles, their narrow shafts swinging around heaven from anchorages on hilltops. For miles ahead you watch one, catching its brief flash as the beam swings high over your road. Drawing nearer, you see a reflector revolving on a small tower of skeletal steel, a land lighthouse functioning impersonally in solitude. You pass, and see a fainter arm of light waving over the hills ahead, the next eye. They are the night beacons for the U. S. airmail.
Similar lighthouses mark other routes, besides the 900 air-miles between New York and Chicago. From the air, a pilot can see his dark course plotted out 100 miles ahead by luminous, moving asterisks.
But if fog comes down. . . . Airmen crash into mountains when fog comes down. Or they stray many counties off their course. The air mail may be hours late if fog comes down.
Inventor Raymond Machlett of Long Island City, N. Y., lately developed a light of such special incandescence that its long wave light rays can be seen through 20 miles of fog (TIME, July 18).
And last week, Inventor C. Francis Jenkins of Washington, D. C., offered another scheme, whereby a pilot would need to peer no farther than the dashboard in his cockpit to stay on his course. Inventor Jenkins proposed to equip land lighthouses such as those now winking over the Alleghenies with automatic radio transmitters, each unit costing only $250 and manageable by the present lighthouse attendants. Each station would broadcast on a short wavelength measured to light up a wireless light bulb in the cockpit of a passing plane. Darkness, fog, rain, sleet or snow have virtually no effect on radio waves. But distance lessens their strength. If a pilot started straying off his course, the bulb on his dashboard, a "pilot light" indeed, would grow dim. As he steered back to his proper course, the bulb would brighten cheerfully.
Said Edsel Ford last week: "Byrd is a great fellow. He is a gentleman, a scientist and altogether likeable. I enjoy being behind him in such enterprises." Said Commander Richard E. Byrd: "Both the Fords are fine people. Henry Ford is great because he dreams and has ideals and puts them into practice. It was a wonderful experience to talk with him." Each spoke after a conference in Detroit after which Edsel Ford said he would help financially to back a Byrd flight over the South Pole as he helped back him to the North Pole. The South Pole trip was postponed to 1928.