Many non-aviation magazines were swept up in the growing interest in aviation that was accented by the exploits of World War l military aviation. These included COUNTRY LIFE, LITERARY DIGEST and MOTOR BOATING.
In fact, Motor Boating took aviation as its own and christened it “Air Boating” in a monthly series starting in February 1918.
“Air Boating has passed the experimental stage,” the magazine’s editors stated. “It is both safe and practical and an exhilarating sport, well within the means of many of our readers. It will soon be a means of popular travel. To herald the development of the science and the industry of the air, as it shall affect the interests of our readers, is the purpose of this department, which shall be a regular feature in each issue of Motor Boating.”
Besides the “Air Boating” section, the publication also contained stand-alone articles about aviation including such titles as: “The Air Pilots Story,” “Aviation in the Far Corners of the World,” one on the air fighting in France called “Let Loose the Gulls of War,” and a multi-part series by William B. Stout, later of Ford Tri-motor fame, called “Plane Facts.”
But of most interest was the magazine’s view of aviation and its post-war future as shown in its “Question and Answer Section” reproduced in part below.
“Air boating is the newest means of travel, recreation and sport. Few people realize how safe it has become or the pleasure the air affords. Many still think of air boating as a violation of the law of gravity and, therefore, ‘Tempting Providence.’ Some approve it — for others, but will have none of it themselves. Still others, satisﬁed that it is safe, take only a casual interest for lack of definite information.
“We believe that air boating should and soon will be as popular as motor boating is today. Many who now for the ﬁrst time take any serious interest in the air will float upon and glide through it with as much satisfaction and perfect security as speeding over the water.
“Perhaps there is no subject upon which the public has so little information. This is unfortunate and we hope to be of real service to our readers. We hope they will ask many questions, and we assure them that we will in each instance endeavor to give them an accurate and satisfactory answer.”
QUESTlON: What is the legal right of an aviator to constantly cross and re-cross the property of his neighbors in taking off or returning to the hangar?
ANSWER: According to the old common law, a man’s rights are from the center of the earth under his property to the heavens above, and hence anyone flying over it is termed a trespasser. Some few towns also have ordinances which prohibit flying over their limits. The rights of the airplane, however, have not yet been definitely decided in law. This is probably because of the fact that it does not proceed along highways and therefore does not conflict with the predetermined rights of others. Anyone who damages the life or property of his neighbor would, of course, be accountable to the extent of the damages, and we can readily see how damages may result from emergency landings in cross-country flights.
This problem will doubtless be cared for with the development of aviation. The writer has no fear of anyone being able to enforce the exclusive use of all the air above his property, although some may desire to make such a claim. When, however, the airman lands in a place to which the public has access and damages some person, liability is defined by common law.
Q: (a) What is the prospect for cross country flight in America? (b) Has there ever before been a demand for airplanes?
A: (a) The prospect for cross country flying in our country is very bright. The inability to get machines on account of the government’s need is, of course, holding back flying by private owners and nearly all who already knew how to fly have joined the government’s aviation forces. However, the impetus given to the art and science of flying by war development far outweighs the temporary disadvantage of the monopoly of the market. (b) Yes. There was a demand for airplanes, mostly for exhibition purposes, about 1911, after Curtiss flew from Albany to New York above the Hudson River, but the public interest lagged and the demand finally died out. At present there is a private demand which cannot be filled on account of a more important public need.
Q: What type of machine is best for a beginner to buy?
A: A two-place tractor biplane of not less than 90 or 100 hp. We would suggest that the prospective purchaser examine carefully into the merits of the different machines before purchasing any. It is just as necessary to make a careful selection of a plane as of a motor boat or automobile, and as soon as the war demand ceases, or slows down, the prospective aviator will have a very fair range of selection. Another important item which must be thought of at the very start is your air boathouse. As soon as you have decided upon your plane you will want to construct your hangar.
Q: Will the conclusion of the European war throw a lot of valuable planes on the market?
A: Perhaps many planes will be available, but we must always remember that the planes made for war work are highly specialized machines. In some, stability has been largely sacriﬁced to speed. ln fact, some of the speediest planes are now so delicately constructed that an inexperienced pilot by failure to handle them exactly right would break the machine in two in midair. Some have practically no factor of safety. We are of the belief that most American aviators will want their own machines made at home after a carefully selected plan and for a definite purpose. The Post Office Department is now planning to utilize all aircraft that has become too antiquated for further war use.
Though the series in Motor Boating only lasted six months, it provided an insight into the popular reception of aviation and its possible post-war outlook. As mentioned in the last posting about ex-war aircraft, there proved to be a huge market for such machines.