By E.C. Vivian
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As already noted, Walker's work is not over practical, and the foregoing extract includes the most practical part of it; the rest is a series of dissertations on bird flight, in which, evidently, the portrait painter's observations were far less thorough than those of da Vinci or Borelli. Taken on the whole, Walker was a man with a hobby; he devoted to it much time and thought, but it remained a hobby, nevertheless. com 30 A History of Aeronautics arising from scarcely foreseen causes, together with experiment as patient as daring.
The engine and boiler were put in the car to drive two screw-propellers, right and left-handed, 3 ft. in diameter, with four blades each, occupying three-quarters of the area of the circumference, set at an angle of 60 degrees. A considerable time was spent in perfecting the motive power. Compressed air was tried and abandoned. Tappets, cams, and eccentrics were all tried, to work the slide valve, to obtain the best results. The piston rod of engine passed through both ends of the cylinder, and with long connecting rods worked direct on the crank of the propellers.
When on a rapid course this bird is in the habit of furling its wings into a narrow compass. The greater extent of surface is probably needful for the continual variations of speed and instant stoppages for obtaining its insect food. 'On the other hand, there are some birds, particularly of the duck tribe, whose wing-surface but little exceeds half a square foot, or seventy-two inches per pound, yet they may be classed among the strongest and swiftest of fliers. A weight of one pound, suspended from an area of this extent, would acquire a velocity due to a fall of sixteen feet--a height sufficient for the destruction or injury of most animals.
A History of Aeronautics by E.C. Vivian