Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Harrington Emerson, President, Emerson Institute, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

June 23, 1917

Rear Admiral William S. Sims,

Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:

     Racing men have enough common sense not to give running horses any more weight to carry than is absolutely necessary. They don’t want to lose races.

     A thousand pounds of nerves and muscles and bones in the terrific physical and nervous excitement of the race is put in charge of a 100 pound jockey, who is fully capable of handling the animal.

     The battle airplane among vehicles corresponds to the race horse among beasts of burden. The supreme quality is speed to which both factors of safety and durability are sacrificed.

     Its get away speed

     Its straight away speed

Its climbing speed in altitude per second

Its radius of outbound flight and return

Its load of bombs

are lessened by every extra pound in the flyer.

     A pound of gasoline carries a plane about one mile. 60 – 80 lbs. more gasoline means 60 – 80 miles more flight.

     Why, therefore, are six footers, weighing now 160 to 180 lbs., and only kept down to these weights by constant training, accepted and trained by the Royal Flying Corps, when 100 lb. pilots would do as well?

     Moreover, the 100 lb. man, being smaller, is less likely to be hit and could, without increase in weight, carry thicker armor over head and heart.

     There is a strong agitation now to increase the air service. Let this movement be coupled with common sense on the part of the authorities, and as to this you can give much help.

Yours very truly,

Harrington Emerson

Source Note: TDS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Container 45. This letter is written on official stationary with “THE Emerson COMPANY/EFFICIENCY ENGINEERS/Harrington Emerson, PRES.” centered at the top of the page. In the upper left- and right-hand corners are addresses and contact information for the company’s New York, Pittsburg, and Chicago offices. On the second page, a header reads: “THE Emerson COMPANY TORear Admrl W.S.Sims DATE 7/23/17 PAGE 2”. The date on this heading is an error, as the message was sent in June.

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