Given the rise in popularity of dirigibles in both civilian and military applications, one wonders why sporting dirigibles have not yet become commonplace. After all, most of today's generation recall with fondness the preceding decades, in which intrepid men, and headstrong ladies took to the skies following the first great trend in aeronautics - ballooning.
One Mr. Samuel L. Collins has proposed an innovative solution to this problem - namely, a sporting dirigible designed for two or three passengers, to be powered by means of an engine not to exceed eighty horsepower. Such an engine would permit speeds in fair weather of up to fifty miles to the hour - a pace far in excess of those achieved by even the most ardent balloonists. Furthermore, the dirigible would be fully controllable, allowing the pilot to maneuver at his leisure. This method differs sharply from that of the balloonist, who is at the mercies of the wind. Many a balloonist has found this condition to be quite unsatisfactory, particularly whilst heading towards an inconvenient copse of trees, or a church spire, with no means at his disposal to alter his course.
Further, Mr. Collins promises that such a dirigible would be easier to pilot than the modern aeroplane. As my gentle readers may have heard, piloting an aeroplane can be a tricky business, requiring certain scientific knowledge, and an iron will. Such features are wholly unnecessary in the dirigible pilot, if Mr. Collins is to be believed. The lifting gas provides the machine with impeccable balance, and steering is accomplished by means of a rudder bar to control the machine's yaw, and a wheel or a column to control the elevators, which provide vertical maneuverability.
Mr. Collins has released the following sketch of his contraption for the consumption of the general public.
As one can see from the illustration, the passengers are meant to ride below the envelope of the dirigible (the balloon for those readers who are unfamiliar with aeronautical terminology). The gondola, or basket, of the airship, seats two or three passengers, and also houses the necessary mechanical equipment to power and control the machine.
Given the meteoric rise in interest amongst the general public in matters of aviation, particularly travel by dirigible, it is this correspondent's opinion that it will not be long before Mr. Collins' machines make their mark on the fashionable set of London.