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Flying Machine Season Sets In With Great
Virulence and Astonishing Results
Among the Sand Dunes South of the City

This is the time of the year when the wind generally blows from the north over the sand hills at the foot of Lake Michigan, and its average velocity is about fifteen miles an hour. Given these conditions, and not forgetting the sand hills as soft places to light upon, this vicinity is an inviting one to certain scientifically inclined persons who are who are seeking to conquer the air as a route for travel. In other words, this is the season for the air ship to begin flying, and it has been taken advantage of with astonishing results during the last four days.

A.M.Herring, a mechanical engineer who was for a considerable time associated with Professor Langley of the Smithsonian Institution in his experiments with a flying machine and Harry Clark of Philadelphia are the daring individuals who have seized the opportunity for breaking their necks in emulation of the famous Darius Green, but thus far they are fortunate enough to escape without so much as a scratch. More than that, they have surpassed all previous records in the performance of the machine they are operating, and believe they are on the eve of a revolution in the methods of transportation.

Herring's New Aeroplane.

Since last Wednesday Herring and Clark have been living in a tent hidden among the sand dunes two miles north of the little railroad station of Dune Park, Ind. It is the same location chosen last year by Octave Chanute, the eminent civil engineer for a series of experiments with the aeroplane of his devising and a more elaborate and pretentious machine invented by William Paul. Herring was a member of the Chanute party for several weeks, and suggested numerous improvements in the birdlike contrivances during the experiments.

When the season advanced too far for a continuance of the flights, Herring had stored away a stock of ideas on flying machines. He thought he had the problem solved before winter arrived, and went in search of a backer who would assist him in the construction of his machine. He continued his search through the winter and into the spring, and finally found a gentlemen with money to throw at the birds, so to speak, and Herring was made happy once more. He had his flying machine ready in less than a month, and then waited for the wind to begin blowing from the right direction at Dune Park.

New Record of 200 Yards.

With this machine - an aeroplane of the class with which Otto Lilienthal, the unfortunate German avator, made such wonderful advances in aerial navigation - Herring and Clark have exceeded in the length of the flights all previous performances of the same character. On the first attempt to use the machine Herring was surprised to find that he had glided through the air almost 200 feet, a distance exceeding by fully fifty feet his expectations. His experience last year at the same point had led him to calculate on flying no further than the distance measured than. Yesterday he traveled through the air almost 200 yards, and narrowly escaped taking a bath in Lake Michigan at the same time.
   Two hundred yards breaks all the records for aeroplanes, and the two aviators are duly swelled with pride over the achievement. Last year, with a machine built on the same lines as the one Herring used yesterday, William Avery, one of the Chanute party, traveled through the air not quite half the distance and set the mark for the season. During the two or three weeks that Mr. Chanute remained in camp at the place flights were made every day when the wind blew from the right direction, but none passed over the landing place of Avery.

Double-Decker "Whatnot"

Otto Lilienthal, the German engineer who drew the attention of the scientific world to this method of aerial navigation a few years ago, never succeeded in equaling the performances of last year. He killed himself accidentally Aug. 30 [sic - ed. actually August 10], 1896, while experimenting with one of his machines. Mr. Chanute constructed one of the Lilienthal machines for experimental purposes last year, and the best that could be done with it was a flight of 106 feet. It was so obviously unsafe that Mr. Chanute abandoned it altogether and turned his attention to constructing machines of his own design. 

   The Herring machine closely resembles the one with which Mr. Chanute secured the best results last year. Its description is difficult without the aid of an illustration. Herring calls it a "double-decker" aeroplane. Its framework resembles one of those old-fashioned "whatnots" more nearly than anything else, with the difference that it is constructed of the lightest spruce pine, and has but two shelves or decks. These decks are oblong planes of varnished silk, stretched very taut, and presenting an area of about 140 square feet. Extending from the rear of the machine is a rudder, very much the shape of a bird's tail expanded, which is controlled to a certain extent by cords within reach of the avators hands.

Flies against the wind

   To operate the machine Herring climbs to the top of one of the numerous sand dunes that skirt the shore of the lake and lifts the machine above his head. Then he faces the wind squarely, and starts to run down the steep declivity at full speed. The wind striking beneath the superposed planes lifts the machine upward, and the next moment Herring is suspended in the air by his arms from two parallel bars that form the lower braces of the machine. The machine glides through space in a series of swoops, the length of which are in a great measure dependent upon the skillful efforts of the operator, and finally settles down upon the sand.

Camp is well hidden

   The experiments will continue indefinitely, the expectation being that numerous improvements will be suggested. The location of the camp in which Herring and Clark are making their home is such that they feel quite secure from intruders. The curious person who attempts to find the camp without the aid of a guide will stand a good chance of spending a few days in the swamps and sand hills that abound in the vicinity of Dune Park. Fishermen and the few hunters that wander along the beach pass the camp without discovering its location, so securely is it hidden among the hills.

  Octave Chanute was an interested visitor to the camp yesterday, and he returned to the city last night highly pleased with the success of the machine. It is possible that he will renew the experiments that were discontinued last year on the account of the unfavorable weather. At that time he was financially interested, as well as scientifically, in the invention of William Paul, a Russian sailor, who had constructed a machine in close adherence to the lines suggested by the albatross. A succession of accidents interfered before the machine could be perfected, and then bad weather set in.
Newspaper and Eyewitness Accounts
1896 1897 1898
June 24 - Chicago Tribune
August 2 - Chicago Tribune September 5 - Times-Herald November 11 - Elmira, NY 
Daily Advertiser
September 8 - Chicago Tribune September 8 - Times-Herald
September 11 - Chicago Chronicle September 12 - Times-Herald
September 12 - Chicago Tribune
September 28 - Chicago Record
October 3 - Westchester Tribune