Monday, November 9, 2009

Part I, Chapter 9

The Eternal Fight: The madmen of flying machines

Note: In earlier chapters, any appearance of the term "airplane" should be read as "flying machine", as it is clear to me now that though the Hungarian word "flying machine" is modern Hungarian's de facto and de jure word for "airplane"--this was not so when Jokai's novel was written... and eventually he does, in fact, use a different word to refer to concrete flying machines as opposed to just conceptual ones.

This chapter is primarily about Tatrangi Mózes, the father of Tatrangi Dávid, and takes place in the insane asylum where he has been shut as a result of his last attempted mechanical flight.

In the asylum, there are another two madmen of flying machines, and all three have different ideas about the best approach to conquering the sky via flying machines.

The first madman's approach is the creation of far larger hot air balloons, with "side wings" to help steer the balloon that would help better navigate it into higher or lower air currents (i.e.: which would take it in the direction it sought to go, as opposed to in whatever direction prevailing currents below or above might be going).

The second madman's approach involves no balloon, but an engine driven propeller (or propellers?)... though I am not entirely clear whether his vision is more akin to a small propellered airplane or a helicopter.

The approach Tatrangi Mózes proposes is basically an ornithopter, albeit it is key that Tatrangi Dávid's father believes that the wings of such a flying machine will, at the right altitude (assuming they are made of the right material), start to beat on their own, powered by atmospheric electricity.

The other two madmen, amidst their ridiculing of Mózes, recall that after his initial confinement in the asylum, Mr. Severus "a negro Rothschild" visited him and told him that though he will invest up to 10 million dollars into developing flying machines, if Tatrangi Mózes figures out how to make them work right, he should not fly again until he does lest the devil snatch him from the sky.

After this conversation, also witnessed by Tatrangi Dávid patiently awaiting to see his father, Tatrangi Mózes urges his son to continue his work on developing a flying machine.

Tatrangi Dávid informs his father that he is travelling home the day after tomorrow, as he is no longer a soldier (having been able to give up his commission the day after his promotion by the King).

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