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I also have a list of Space Prediction Quotations
I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. . . . Ever since, I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions.
— Wilbur Wright, in a speech to the Aero Club of France, 5 November 1908.
Science has not yet mastered prophecy. We predict too much for the next year and yet far too little for the next ten.
— Neil Armstrong, speech to joint session of Congress, 16 September 1969.
It is not really necessary to look too far into the future; we see enough already to be certain it will be magnificent. Only let us hurry and open the roads.
— Wilbur Wright
For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it, but looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn—t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France?
— Vincent van Gogh, 1889
To consider the Earth as the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that in an entire field of millet, only one grain will grow.
— Metrodorus of Chios, 4th century BCE
Someone asked the master about the principles (tao) of mounting to dangerous heights and traveling into the vast inane. The Master said, "Some have made flying cars (fei chhe) with wood from the inner part of the jujube tree, using ox-leather [straps] fastened to returning blades so as to set the machine in motion (huan chien i yin chhi chi).
— Pao Phu Tau, Fourth Century CE, earliest description of a helicopter?
What man-made machine will ever achieve the complete perfection of even the goose's wing?
عباس بن فرناس Abbas Ibn Firnas, 852 —
First, by the figurations of art there be made instruments of navigation without men to row them, as great ships to brooke the sea, only with one man to steer them, and they shall sail far more swiftly than if they were full of men; also chariots that shall move with unspeakable force without any living creature to stir them. Likewise an instrument may be made to fly withall if one sits in the midst of the instrument, and do turn an engine, by which the wings, being artificially composed, may beat the air after the manner of a flying bird.
— Frier Roger Bacon, c1250, 'Epistola de secretis
I have discovered that a screw-shaped device such as this, if it is well made from starched linen, will rise in the air if turned quickly.
— Leonardo Da Vinci, Codice Atlantico, describing his Helical Air Screw, 1480.
A bird is an instrument working according to mathematical law, which instrument it is within the capacity of man to reproduce with all its movements.
— Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise on the Flight of Birds, 1505.
God is infinite, so His universe must be too. Thus is the excellence of God magnified and the greatness of His kingdom made manifest; He is glorified not in one, but in countless suns; not in a single earth, a single world, but in a thousand thousand, I say in an infinity of worlds.
— Giordano Bruno, On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, 1584. Giordana was executed by the Inquisition.
Ships and sails proper for the heavenly air should be fashioned. Then there will also be people, who do not shrink from the dreary vastness of space.
— Johannes Kepler, letter to Galileo Galilei, 1609.
As soon as somebody demonstrates the art of flying, settlers from our species of man will not be lacking [on the Moon and Jupiter]. . . . Who would have believed that a huge ocean could be crossed more peacefully and safely than the the narrow expanse of the Adriatic, the Baltic Sea or the English Channel? Provide ship or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes, and there will be some who will not fear even that void [of space]. . . . So, for those who will come shortly to attempt this journey, let us establish the astronomy: Galileo, you of Jupiter, I of the Moon.
— Johannes Kepler, letter to Galileo Galilei, 'Conversation with the Messenger from the Stars,' 19 April 1610.
The proposition that the sun is the centre of the world
and does not move from place to place is absurd and false philosophically
and formally heretical, because it is expressively contrary to Holy
— F. Cardinalis de Asculo, G. Cardinalis Bentivolius, D. Cardinalis de Cremona, A. Cardinalis S. Honuphri, B. Cardinalis Gypsius., F. Cardinalis Verospius, M. Cardinalis Ginettus, Sentence of the Tribunal of the Supreme Inquisition against Galileo Galilei, 22 June 1633. It is often said that rising from his knees after recanting, Galileo said "E pur si muove!" (But it does move!) however there is no evidence to source such a quote. In 1992 Pope John Paul II finally issued an apology, lifting the edict of Inquisition against Galileo: "Galileo sensed in his scientific research the presence of the Creator who, stirring in the depths of his spirit, stimulated him, anticipating and assisting his intuitions."
Yet I do seriously and on good grounds affirm it possible to make a flying chariot in which a man may sit and give such a motion unto it as shall convey him through the air. And this perhaps might be made large enough to carry divers men at the same time, together with food for their viaticum and commodities for traffic. It is not the bigness of anything in this kind that can hinder its motion, if the motive faculty be answerable thereunto. We see a great ship swims as well as a small cork, and an eagle flies in the air as well as a little gnat. . . . 'Tis likely enough that there may be means invented of journeying to the Moon; and how happy they shall be that are first successful in this attempt.
— John Wilkins, 'A Discourse Concerning a New World and Another Planet,' book 1, 1640.
A time will come when men will stretch out their eyes. They should see planets like our Earth.
— Christopher Wren, 1657.
I believe I have found a way to make a machine lighter than air itself. . . . We live submerged at the bottom of an ocean of the element air, which by unquestioned experiments is known to have weight.
— Francesco de Lana de Terzi of Brescia, the first to propose a flying machine based on sound scientific principles, 1670.
God would surely never allow such a machine to be successful, since it would cause much disturbance among the civil and political governments of mankind . . . no city would be proof against surprise . . . or ships that sail the sea. . . . Houses, fortresses, and cities could thus be destroyed, with the certainty that the airship would come to no harm, as the missiles could be thrown from a great height.
— Francesco de Lana de Terzi of Brescia, Italian Jesuit who was the first Westerner to write on the military uses of aerial attack, 1670.
Witness this new-made world, another Heav'n
— John Milton, 'Paradise Lost.' Book 7, 1674.
The Art of Flying is but newly invented, 'twill improve by degrees, and in time grow perfect; then we may fly as far as the Moon.
— Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle, 'A week's conversation on the plurality of worlds,' 1686. (English translation by William Gardiner, 1728.)
Flying would give such occasions for intrigues as people cannot meet with who have nothing but legs to carry them. You should have a couple of lovers make a midnight assignation upon the top of the monument, and see the cupola of St. Paul's covered with both sexes like the outside of a pigeon-house. Nothing would he more frequent than to see a beau flying in at a garret window, or a gallant giving chase to his mistress, like a hawk after a lark. The poor husband could not dream what was doing over his head. If he were jealous, indeed, he might clip his wife's wings, but what would this avail when there were flocks of whore-masters perpetually hovering over his house?
— Joseph Adoison, —The Guardian,— 20 July 1713.
What can you conceive more silly and extravagant than to suppose a man racking his brains, and studying night and day how to fly?
— William Law, 'A Serious Call to a Devout and Holly Life XI,' 1728.
At first we will only skim the surface of the earth like young starlings, but soon, emboldened by practice and experience, we will spring into the air with the impetuousness of the eagle, diverting ourselves by watching the childish behavior of the little men or awling miserably around on the earth below us.
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, c. 1750
You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck...I have no time for such nonsense.
— Napoleon, commenting on Fulton's Steamship.
It is entirely impossible for man to rise into the air and float there. For this you would need wings of tremendous dimensions and they would have to be moved at three feet per second. Only a fool would expect such a thing to be realized.
— Joseph de Lalande, member of the French Academy, 'Journal de Paris,' 18 May 1782.
At sea let the British their neighbors defy—The French shall have frigates to traverse the sky.
— Philip Freneau, —The Progress of Ballons,— 1784.
Soon shall thy arm, unconquer'd steam! afar
— Erasmus Darwin, 'The Botanic Garden,' 1791.
He that can swim needs not despair to fly; to swim is to fly in a grosser fluid, and to fly is to swim in a subtler. We are only to proportion our power of resistance to the different density of matter through which we are to pass. You will be necessarily upborne by the air if you can renew any impulse upon it faster than the air can recede from the pressure... The labor of rising from the ground will be great, ... but as we mount higher, the earth's attraction, and the body's gravity, will be gradually diminished till we arrive at a region where the man will float in the air without any tendency to fall.
— Dr. Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, 1759.
Anyone who should see in the sky such a globe should be aware that, far from being an alarming phenomenon, it is only a machine made of taffetas or light canvas covered with paper, that cannot possibly cause any harm, and which will someday prove serviceable to the wants of society.
— French government proclamation issued to allay public alarm about balloon flights, 1784.
What is the use of a new-born infant?
— Benjamin Franklin, when asked what was the use of a balloon, while he was the American Plenipotentiary to France in the early 1780s.
Soon shall thy arm, unconquer'd steam! afar
— Erasmus Darwin, (1731-1802), 'The Botanic Garden,' Part i. Canto i.
Bishop Wilkins prophesied that the time would come when gentlemen, when they were to go on a journey, would call for their wings as regularly as they call for their boots.
— Maria Edgeworth, Essay on Irish Bulls, 1802
I am well convinced that 'Aerial Navigation' will form a most prominent feature in the progress of civilisation.
— Sir George Cayley, 1804
I may be expediting the attainment of an object that will in time be found of great importance to mankind; so much so, that a new era in society will commence from the moment that aerial navigation is familiarly realised. . . . I feel perfectly confident, however, that this noble art will soon be brought home to man's convenience, and that we shall be able to transport ourselves and our families, and their goods and chattels, more securely by air than by water, and with a velocity of from 20 to 100 miles per hour.
— Sir George Cayley, 1809
Sir, Your letter of the 15th is received, but Age has long since obliged me to withhold my mind from Speculations of the difficulty of those of your letter, that their are means of artificial buoyancy by which man may be supported in the Air, the Balloon has proved, and that means of directing it may be discovered is against no law of Nature and is therefore possible as in the case of Birds, but to do this by mechanical means alone in a medium so rare and unassisting as air must have the aid of some principal not yet generally known. However, I can really give no opinion understandingly on the subject and with more good will than confidence wish to you success.
— President Thomas Jefferson, 27 April, 1822.
I suppose we shall soon travel by air-vessels; make air instead of sea voyages; and at length find our way to the Moon, in spite of the want of atmosphere.
— Lord Byron, 1822.
What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives travelling twice as fast as stagecoaches?
— The Quarterly Review, March 1825.
Railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of fifteen miles per hour by engines which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to the crops, scaring the livestock, and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such break-neck speed.
— President Martin Van Buren, 1829
Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.
— Dr. Dionysus Lardner, 1830
For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Locksley Hall, 1842.
It has been demonstrated by the fruitlessness of a thousand attempts that it is not possible for a machine, moving under its own power, to generate enough force to raise itself, or sustain itself. in the air.
— M. de Marles, Les Cents merveilles des sciences et des arts, 1847.
Of all inventions of which it is possible to conceive in the future, there is none which so captivates the imagination as that of a flying machine. The power of rising up into the air and rushing in any direction desired at the rate of a mile or more in a minute is a power for which mankind would be willing to pay very liberally. What a luxurious mode of locomotion! To sweep along smoothly, gracefully, and swiftly over the treetops, changing course at pleasure, and alighting at will. How perfectly it would eclipse all other means of travel by land and sea! This magnificent problem, so alluring to the imagination and of the highest practical convenience and value, has been left heretofore to the dreams of a few visionaries and the feeble efforts of a few clumsy inventors. We, ourselves, have thought that, in the present state of human knowledge, it contained no promise of success. But, considering the greatness of the prize and the trifling character of the endeavors which have been put forth to obtain it, would it not indeed be well, as our correspondents suggest, to make a new and combined effort to realize it, under all the light and power of modern science and mechanism? . . . .
The simplest, however, of all conceivable flying machines would be a cylinder blowing out gas in the rear and driving itself along on the principle of the rocket. . . .
We might add several other hints to inventors who desire to enter on this enticing field, but we will conclude with only one more. The newly discovered metal aluminum, from its extraordinary combination of lightness and strength, is the proper material for flying machines.
— Scientific American, 8 September, 1860.
In spite of the opinions of certain narrow-minded people who would shut up the human race upon this globe, we shall one day travel to the Moon, the planets, and the stars with the same facility, rapidity and certainty as we now make the ocean voyage from Liverpool to New York.
— Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon, 1865
I believe, sir, in all the progress. Air navigation is the result of the oceanic navigation: from water the human has to pass in the air. Everywhere where creation will be breathable to him, the human will penetrate into the creation. Our only limit is life. There where ends the air column which prevents our machine to burst, the human has to stop. But he can, owes, and wants to go to there, and he will go. You can do it. I take the biggest interest in your useful and brave perpendicular journeys. You ingenious and fearless companion, Mr W. de Fontevielle, has as Mr. Victor Meunier the superior instinct of the true science. I would have the magnificent taste of the scientific adventure. Adventure in the fact, the hypothesis in the idea, here is the two big processes of discovery. Certainly, the future is for air navigation and the duty of the present is to work for the future. You are just now endorsing this duty. I, solitary person, but attentive, I am your eyes and I say to you: Courage!
— Victor Hugo, letter sent to Gaston Tissandier, 9 March 1869.
Darius was clearly of the opinion
— John Townsend Trowbridge, Darius Greene and His
Flying Machine, 1869.
In this age of inventive wonders all men have come to believe that in some genius' brain sleeps the solution of the grand problem of aerial navigation—and along with that belief is the hope that that genius will reveal his miracle before they die, and likewise a dread that he will poke off somewhere and die himself before he finds out that he has such a wonder lying dormant in his brain. We all know the air can be navigated—therefore, hurry up your sails and bladders—satisfy us—let us have peace.
—Mark Twain, letter to the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, 1 August 1869.
And then, the Earth being small, mankind will migrate into space, and will cross the airless Saharas which separate planet from planet and sun from sun. The Earth will become a Holy Land which will be visited by pilgrims from all the quarters of the Universe. Finally, men will master the forces of Nature; they will become themselves architects of systems, manufacturers of worlds.
— Winwood Reade, The Martyrdom of Man, 1872.
I hold that in the flight of the soaring birds (the vultures, the eagles, and other birds which fly without flapping) ascension is produced by the skillful use of the force of the wind, and the steering, in any direction, is the result of skillful manoeuvres; so that by a moderate wind a man can, with an aeroplane, un- provided with any motor whatever, rise up into the air and direct himself at will, even against the wind itself.
— Louis-Pierre Mouillard, L' Empire de I' Air, 1881.
Well, gentlemen, do you believe in the possibility of aerial locomotion by machines heavier than air? . . . You ask yourselves doubtless if this apparatus, so marvellously adapted for aerial locomotion, is susceptible of receiving greater speed. It is not worth while to conquer space if we cannot devour it. I wanted the air to be a solid support to me, and it is. I saw that to struggle against the wind I must be stronger than the wind, and I am. I had no need of sails to drive me, nor oars nor wheels to push me, nor rails to give me a faster road. Air is what I wanted, that was all. Air surrounds me as water surrounds the submarine boat, and in it my propellers act like the screws of a steamer. That is how I solved the problem of aviation. That is what a balloon will never do, nor will any machine that is lighter than air.
— Jules Verne, 1886
Put these three indisputable facts together:
— Joseph Le Conte, Professor of Natural History at the University of California, Popular Science Monthly, November 1888.
To set foot on the soil of the asteroids, to lift by hand a rock from the Moon, to observe Mars from a distance of several tens of kilometers, to land on its satellite or even on its surface, what can be more fantastic? From the moment of using rocket devices a new great era will begin in astronomy: the epoch of the more intensive study of the firmament.
— Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, 1896.
To the possible enquiry as to the probable character of a successful flying machine, the writer would answer that in his judgment two types of such machines may eventually be evolved: one, which may be termed the soaring type, and which will carry but a single operator, and another, likely to be developed somewhat later, which may be termed the journeying type, to carry several passengers, and to be provided with a motor.
— Octave Chanute, Progress in Flying Machines, 1894.
Let us hope that the advent of a successful flying machine, now only dimly foreseen and nevertheless thought to be possible, will bring nothing but good into the world; that it shall abridge distance, make all parts of the globe accessible, bring men into closer relation with each other, advance civilization, and hasten the promised era in which there shall be nothing but peace and good-will among all men.
— Octave Chanute, last words of the conclusion chapter, Progress in Flying Machines, 1894.
It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere.
— Thomas Edison, quoted in New York World, 17 November 1895.
Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.
— Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1895.
It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago was thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere.
— Thomas Edison, quoted in the 'New York World,' 17 November 1895.
The flying machine will not be in the same shape or all all in the style of the numerous kinds of cycles, but the study to produce a light, swift machine is likely to lead to an evolution in which wings play a conspicuous part.
— 'Binghamton Republican,' 4 July 1896.
I have not the smallest molecule of faith in aerial navigation other than ballooning, or of the expectation of good results from any of the trials we heard of. So you will understand that I would not care to be a member of the Aeronautical Society.
— Lord Kelvin, replying to an invitation from Major B. F. S. Baden-Powell to join the Royal Aeronautical Society, 1896.
The energy necessary to propel a ship would be many times greater than that required to drive a train of cars at the same speed; hence as a means of rapid transit, flying could not begin to compete with the railroad.
— 'Popular Science' magazine, 1897.
It will be no easy matter to construct a useful wing for man, built upon the lines of the natural wing and endowed with all the dynamically economical properties of the latter; and it will be even a more difficult task to master the wind, that erratic force which so often destroys our handiwork, with those material wings which nature has not made part of our own body. But we must admit the possibility that continued investigation and experience will bring us ever nearer to that solemn moment, when the first man will rise from earth by means of wings, if only for a few seconds, and mark that historical moment which heralds the inauguration of a new era in our civilization.
— Otto Lilienthal, 'Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst,' 1889.
The present generation will not [fly], and no practical engineer would devote himself to the problem now.
— Worby Beaumont, engineer, when asked if man will fly in the next century, 12 January 1900.
For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. The disease has increased in severity and I feel it will soon cost me an increased amount of money, if not my life.
— Wilbur Wright, beginning of his first letter to Octave Chanute, 13 May 1900.
I am intending to start out in a few days for a trip to the coast of North Carolina . . . for the purpose of making some experiments with a flying machine. It is my belief that flight is possible, and while I am taking up the investigation for pleasure rather than profit, I think there is a slight possibility of achieving fame and fortune from it.
— Wilbur Wright, 1900.
If the plan will enable me to remain in the air for practice by the hour instead of by the second, I hope to acquire skill sufficient to overcome the difficulties inherent in flight.
— Wilbur Wright, letter to Octave Chanute, October 1900.
Few people who know of the work of Langley, Lilienthal, Pilcher, Maxim and Chanute but will be inclined to believe that long before the year 2000 A.D., and very probably before 1950, a successful aeroplane will have soared and come home safe and sound.
— H. G. Wells, 1901.
The past is but the beginning of a beginning, and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.
— H. G. Wells, 'The Discovery of the Future,' 1901.
But whether [the source of lift] be a rising current or something else, it is as well able to support a flying machine as a bird, if man once learns the art of utilizing it.
— Wilbur Wright, 18 September 1901
There is no basis for the ardent hopes and positive statements made as to the safe and successful use of the dirigible balloon or flying machine, or both, for commercial transportation or as weapons of war.
— Rear-Admiral George Melville, Engineer-in-Chief USN, 'North American Review,' December 1901.
As the speed of aerial transit may reach several miles a minute man
will practically be able to annihilate space and circumnavigate and
explore the whole surface of this globe with independence, ease, dispatch
and economy, or travel from pole to pole, or where ever his fancy may
dictate, unhampered by restrictions of any kind.
— William Edwin Irish, 'The Aerial Transit of Man,' published in Aeronautical World, 1 August 1902.
Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.
— widely attributed to Simon Newcomb, 1902, but with no source information.
A day will come when beings, now latent in our thoughts and hidden in our loins, shall stand upon Earth as a footstool and laugh, and reach out their hands amidst the stars.
— H. G. Wells, 1902.
We are thinking of building a machine next year with 500 sq.ft. surface. . . . If all goes well the next step will be to apply a motor.
— Wilbur Wright, letter to George Spratt, 29 December 1902.
I have had the feeling that a properly constructed flying-machine should be capable of being flown as a kite; and conversely, that a properly constructed kite should be capable of use as a flying-machine when driven by its own propellers.
— Alexander Graham Bell, National Geographic Magazine, Vol. XIV, No.6, June 1903.
The flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years—provided, of course, we can meanwhile eliminate such little drawbacks and embarrassments as the existing relation between weight and strength in inorganic materials. No doubt the problem has attractions for those it interests, but to the ordinary man it would seem as if effort might be employed more profitably.
— 'Flying Machines Which Do Not Fly,' published in the New York Times, 9 October 1903. Full PDF online. The exact date is unfortunate for the Times, as on 9 October 1903 one Orville Wright wrote in his diary: "We started assembly today."
Aerial flight is one of that class of problems with which man will never be able to cope. . . . The example of the bird does not prove that man can fly. Imagine the proud possessor of the aeroplane darting through the air at a speed of several hundred feet per second. It is the speed alone that sustains him. How is he ever going to stop?
— Simon Newcomb, in The Independent: A Weekly Magazine, 22 October 1903.
We are still far from the ultimate goal, and it would seem as if years of constant work and study by experts, together with the expenditure of thousands of dollars, would still be necessary before we can hope to produce an apparatus of practical utility on these lines.
— The U.S. War Department, in its final report on the Langley project, 1903.
I believe the new machine of the Wrights to be the most promising attempt at flight that has yet been made.
— Chanute, 23 November 1903.
We hope that Professor Langley will not put his substantial greatness as a scientist in further peril by continuing to waste his time and the money involved in further airship experiments. Life is short, and he is capable of services to humanity incomparably greater than can be expected to result from trying to fly. . . . For students and investigators of the Langley type, there are more useful employments.
— New York Times editorial page of 10 December 1903.
The machine may even carry mail is special cases. But the useful load will be very small. The machines will eventually be fast, they will be used in sport, but they are not to be thought of as commercial carriers.
— Octave Chanute, 1904.
I remember how my comrades used to tease me at our game of 'Pigeon flies!' All the children gather round a table and the leader calls out 'Pigeon flies! Hen flies! Crow flies! Bee flies!' and so on; and at each call we were supposed to raise our fingers. Sometimes, however, he would call out: 'Dog flies! Fox flies!' or some other like impossibility, to catch us. If any one raised a finger, he was made to pay a forfeit. Now my playmates never failed to wink and smile mockingly at me when one of them called 'Man flies!' for at the word I would always lift my finger very high, as a sign of absolute conviction; and I refused with energy to pay the forfeit. The more they laughed at me, the happier I was, hoping that some day the laugh would be on my side.
— A. Santos-Dumont, 'My Air-Ships,' New York, The Century Company, 1904.
It is complete nonsense to believe flying machines will ever work.
— Sir Stanley Mosley, 1905.
As it is not at all likely that any means of suspending the effect of air-resistance can ever be devised, a flying-machine must always be slow and cumbersome. . . . But as a means of amusement, the idea of aerial travel has great promise.
— T. Baron Russell, 'A hundred Years Hence,' 1905.
The demonstration that no possible combination of known substances, known forms of machinery and known forms of force, can be united in a practical machine by which man shall fly long distances through the air, seems to the writer as complete as it is possible for the demonstration of any physical fact to be.
— Simon Newcomb, professor of mathematics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, Side-lights on Astronomy and Kindred Fields of Popular Science, 1906
We bowed our heads before the mystery of it and then lifted our eyes with a new feeling in our souls that seemed to link us all, and hope sprang eternal for the great new future of the world.
— Mary M. Parker, regards seeing the first airplane fly over Chicago, 1910.
The air around London and other large cities will be darkened by the flight of aeroplanes. . . . They are not mere dreamers who hold that the time is at hand when air power will be an even more important thing than sea power.
— Daily Mail newspaper, 1906.
The demonstration that no possible combination of known substances, known forms of machinery, and known forms of force can be united in a practicable machine by which men shall fly for long distances through the air, seems to the writer as complete as it is possible for the demonstration of any physical fact to be.
— Simon Newcomb, 1906.
All attempts at artificial aviation are not only dangerous to human life, but foredoomed to failure from the engineering standpoint.
— Engineering Editor, The Times, 1906.
It seems to me that the conquest of the air is the only major task for our generation.
— T. E. Lawrence
This fellow Charles Lindbergh will never make it. He's doomed.
— Harry Guggenheim, millionaire aviation enthusiast.
Their Lordships are of the opinion that they would not be of any practical use to the Naval Service.
— British Admiralty, in reply to the Wright's offer of patents for their airplane, 1907.
The aeroplane will never fly.
— Lord Haldane, Minister of War, Britain, 1907 (yes, 1907).
A popular fallacy is to expect enormous speed to be obtained . . . . There is no hope of competing for racing speed with either our locomotives or our automobiles.
— William Pickering, Harvard astronomer, Aeronautics, 1908.
Certainly the fundamental problem of flight has been solved, and the remaining difficulties incidental to the weight, fuel economy, and cooling of motors lie in a sphere in which there are innumerable able workers and in which great progress would certainly be made even if there were no "aviators."
— The Guardian newspaper, 14 August 1908.
It is a bare possibility that a one-man machine without a float and favored by a wind say of fifteen miles an hour might succeed in getting across the Atlantic. But such an attempt would be the height of folly. When one comes to increase the size of the craft, the possibility rapidly fades away. This is because of the difficulties of carrying sufficient fuel . . . it will readily be seen, therefore, why the Atlantic flight is out the question.
— Orville Wright.
I do not think that a flight across the Atlantic will be made in our time, and in our time I include the youngest readers.
— Charles Stewart Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce Ltd., c. 1908.
No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris ... [because] no known motor can run at the requisite speed for four days without stopping.
— Orville Wright, c. 1908.
It is a bare possibility that a one-man machine without a float and favored by a wind of, say, 15 miles an hour, might succeed in getting across the Atlantic. But such an attempt would be the height of folly. When one comes to increase the size of the craft, the possibility rapidly fades away. This is because of the difficulties of carrying sufficient fuel. It will readily be seen, therefore, why the Atlantic flight is out of the question.
— Orville Wright, c. 1908.
No place is safe - no place is at peace. There is no place where a women and her daughter can hide and be at peace. The war comes through the air, bombs drop in the night. Quiet people go out in the morning, and see air-fleets passing overhead - dripping death - dripping death!
— H. G. Wells, The War in the Air, 1908.
We soon saw that the helicopter had no future, and dropped it. The helicopter does with great labor only what the balloon does without labor, and is no more fitted than the balloon for rapid horizontal flight. If its engine stops, it must fall with deathly violence, for it can neither glide like the aeroplane or float like the balloon. The helicopter is much easier to design than the aeroplane, but is worthless when done.
— Wilbur Wright, 1909.
It will take much longer [than the automobile] to make them [airplanes] familiar to everyone, yet nobody should lose sight of the fact that the Age of Flight is really here, that the man-bird is fledged at last, and already on the wing.
— Editorial in Outing, 1909
In the opinion of competent experts it is idle to look for a commercial future for the flying machine. There is, and always will be, a limit to its carrying capacity.... Some will argue that because a machine will carry two people, another may be constructed that will carry a dozen, but those who make this contention do not understand the theory.
— W. J. Jackman and Thomas Russell, Flying Machines: Construction and Operation, 1910.
We do not consider that aeroplanes will be of any possible use for war purposes.
— The British Secretary of State for War, 1910.
The popular mind often pictures gigantic flying machines speeding across the Atlantic, carrying innumerable passengers. It seems safe to say that such ideas must be wholly visionary. Even if such a machine could get across with one or two passengers, it would be prohibitive to any but the capitalist who could own his own yacht.
— William Pickering, Harvard astronomer, 1910.
This new sport is comparable to no other. It is, in my opinion, one of the most intoxicating forms of sport, and will, I am sure, become one of the most popular. Many of us will perish before then, but that prospect will not dismay the braver spirits. . . . It is so delicious to fly like a bird!
— Marie Marvingt, The Sky Woman, Colliers magazine, 1911.
Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.
— Marshal Ferdinand Foch, professor of strategy, Ecole Superiure de Guerre, 1911.
With the possible exception of having more pleasing lines to the eye while in flight, the monoplane possesses no material advantage over the biplane.
— Glenn Curtiss, the New York Times, 31 December 1911.
The aeroplane. . . is not capable of unlimited magnification. It is not likely that it will ever carry more than five or seven passengers. High speed monoplanes will carry even less. . . . Over cities, the aerial sentry or policeman will be found. A thousand aeroplanes flying to the opera must be kept in line and each allowed to alight upon the roof of the auditorium, in its proper turn.
— Waldemar Kaempfert, managing editor of Scientific American, and author of The New Art of Flying, here writing in Aircraft and the Future, outlook, 28 June 1913.
A new impetus was given to aviation by the relatively enormous power
for weight of the atomic engine; it was at last possible to add
Redmaynes's ingenious helicopter ascent and descent engine to the vertical
propeller that had hitherto been the sole driving force of the aeroplane
without over-weighting the machine, and men found themselves possessed of
an instrument of flight that could hover or ascend or descend vertically
and gently as rush wildly through the air. The last dread of fliing
— H. G. Wells, The World Set Free, a novel set in the 1950's, written in 1914.
The aeroplane is an invention of the devil and will never play any part in such a serious business as the defence of the nation, my boy!
— Sir Sam Hughes, Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence, to J.A.D. McCurdy, who had approached the minister with the idea of starting an air service, August 1914
The Director of Military Aeronautics of France has decided to discontinue henceforth the purchase of monoplanes, their place to be filled entirely by bi-planes . . . . This decision practically sounds the death knell of the monoplane as a military investment.
— Scientific American, September 1915.
[Airmail was] an impractical sort of fad, and had no place in the serious job of postal transportation.
— Colonel Paul Henderson, U.S. second assistant postmaster general, 1919.
Oh well, I suppose lots of people will do it now.
— Arthur Whitten Brown, to Capt. John Alcock after they crash landed in a bog at Cliften, Ireland, after completing the first transatlantic flight, 1919.
Life, for ever dying to be born afresh, for ever young and eager, will presently stand upon this earth as upon a footstool, and stretch out its realm amidst the stars.
— H. G. Wells, The Outline of History, 1920.
It is highly unlikely that an airplane, or fleet of them, could ever sink a fleet of Navy vessels under battle conditions.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1922.
The sun, the Moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago ... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.
— Havelock Ellis, The Dance of Life, 1923.
Within the next few decades, autos will have folding wings that can be spread when on a straight stretch of road so that the machine can take to the air.
— Eddie Rickenbacker, in an article titled "Flying Autos in 20 Years", Popular Science magazine, July 1924.
The aeroplane is tragically unsuited for ocean service.
— Dr Hugo Eckener, dirigible advocate, 1926.
This fellow [Charles Lindbergh] will never make it. He's doomed.
— Harry Guggenheim, after studying The Spirit of St. Louis at Curtiss Field, 1927.
The first real air-liner, carrying some five or six hundred passengers, will probably appear after or towards the end of the battle between fixed and moving-wing machines. And it will be a flying boat.
— Oliver Stewart, 'Aeriolus, or the Future of the Flying Machine,' 1927.
There is no revolutionary change to be expected in aeroplanes. Design is more or less stabilized, and it is only in details, in materials, in strength and lightness, that any alteration may be looked for.
— Major de Havilland, 'Atlantic Monthly,' January 1928.
The helicopter has never achieved much success and . . .may be classes with the ornithopter as obsolete.
— Major Oliver Stewart, Royal Air Force, 1928.
In less than twenty-five years . . . the motor-car will be obsolete, because the aeroplane will run along the ground as well as fly over it.
— Sir Philip Gibbs, 'The Day After Tomorrow: What Is Going to Happen to the World,' 1928.
Mark my word. A combination airplane and motor car is coming. You may smile. But it will come.
— Henry Ford, after pulling support for his 1926 'Sky Flivver' everyman's airplane, 1928.
Since the beginning of time, mankind has considered it as an expression of its Earthly weakness and inadequacy to be bound to the Earth, to be unable to free itself from the mysterious shackles of gravity. Not without good reason then has the concept of the transcendental always been associated with the idea of weightlessness, the power 'to be able freely to rise into the sky.' And most people even today still take it as a dogma that it is indeed unthinkable for Earthly beings ever to be able to escape the Earth. Is this point of view really justified?
However, the purpose of the present considerations is not an attempt to convince anyone that we will be able tomorrow to travel to other celestial bodies. It is only an attempt to show that traveling into outer space should no longer be viewed as something impossible for humans but presents a problem that really can be solved by technical work. The overwhelming greatness of the goal should make all the roadblocks still standing in its way appear insignificant.
—Hermann Noordung (real name Potocnik), first and last paragraphs of the groundbreaking book 'The Problem of Space Travel: The Rocket motor' (Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums: Der Raketen Motor), 1929.
Our descendants will certainly attempt journeys to other members of the solar system. . . . By 2030 the first preparations for the first attempt to reach Mars may perhaps be under consideration. The hardy individuals who form the personnel of the expedition will be sent forth in a machine propelled like a rocket.
— Lord Birkenhead, 1930
Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.
— J. G. Ballard, 1930.
It is my contention that an agent ideal to the use of the scientific militarist, for both the air raid and the long distance bombardment is now in the process of development; that its eventual perfection is but a matter of time; and its use in warfare is certain to occur. I refer to the rocket. The perfection of the rocket in my opinion will give to future warfare the horror unknown in previous conflicts and will make possible destruction of nations, in a cool, passionless and scientific fashion.
— David Lasser, 22 October 1931.
There is no hope for the fanciful idea of reaching the Moon because of insurmountable barriers to escaping the earth's gravity.
— Dr. F. R. Moulton, University of Chicago astronomer, 1932.
Scientific investigation into the possibilities [of jet propulsion] has given no indication that this method can be a serious competitor to the airscrew-engine combination. We do not consider that we should be justified in spending any time or money on it ourselves.
— The British Under-Secretary of State for Air, 1934
It must be states that there is not the slightest possibility of such a journey. There is not in sight any source of energy that would be a fair start toward that which would be necessary to get us beyond the gravitative control of the earth. There is no theory that would guide us through interplantary space to another world even if we could control our departure from the earth; there is no means of carrying the large amount oxygen, water, and food that would be necessary for such a long journey; and there is not known way of easing our ether ship down on the surface of another world, if we could get there.
— Professor F. R. Moulton, astronomer, 'Consider The Heavens,' University of Chicago Press 1935
Even present-day fuels possess more than enough energy, if only we knew how to release and use it. Just as molecular energy is so freely used to-day, so atomic energy may bring interplantary travel within easy reach to-morrow.
— P. E. Cleator, 'Rockets Through Space,' 1936.
The whole procedure [of shooting rockets into space] . . . presents difficulties of so fundamental a nature, that we are forced to dismiss the notion as essentially impracticable, in spite of the author's insistent appeal to put aside prejudice and to recollect the supposed impossibility of heavier-than-air flight before it was actually accomplished. An analogy such as this may be misleading, and we believe it to be so in this case.
— Sir Richard van der Riet Wooley, British astronomer, reviewing P.E. Cleator's 'Rockets Through Space,' in Nature, 14 March 1936
The acceleration which must result from the use of rockets . . . inevitably would damage the brain beyond repair.
— John P. Lockhard-Mummery, MA, BC, FRCS, 'After Us,' 1936.
It is about a period in aviation which is now gone, but which was probably more interesting than any the future will bring. As time passes, the perfection of machinery tends to insulate man from contact with the elements in which he lives. The 'stratosphere' planes of the future will cross the ocean without any sense of the water below. Like a train tunneling through a mountain, they will be aloof from both the problems and the beauty of the earth's surface. Only the vibration from the engines will impress the senses of the traveller with his movement through the air. Wind and heat and Moonlight take-offs will be of no concern to the transatlantic passenger. His only contact with these elements will lie in accounts such as this.
— Charles Lindbergh, foreword to 'Listen! The Wind,' 1938.
While we may invite the charge of obstructionism if we dismiss the whole affair as a wild-cat speculation, it is necessary for us to remark that, while the ratio of research results accomplished to speculative theorising is so low, little confidence can be placed in the deliberations of the British interplanetary Society.
— 'Nature,' 15 April 1939.
Using an artful tool does not make one a dry technician. It seems to me that people that are anxious about our technical advancement, confuse means and ends. Naturally a person that only works for material gain will not harvest something that is worth living for. But the machine is not an end in itself. The airplane is not an end. It is a tool. Just like the plough.
When we think that the machine will harm man, then it is perhaps because we are not yet capable of judging the rapid changes it has brought about. We hardly feel at home in this landscape of mines and power stations. We have just moved into this new home that we have not even finished yet. Everything around us has changed so fast - personal relations, working conditions, habits. Even our state of mind is in turmoil.
We are all youthful barbarians, and only our new toys
bring us excitement. That has been the sole purpose of our flights. This
one flies higher, that one faster. But now we will make ourselves at home.
We will forget the machine, the tool. It is no longer complex; it does
what it is supposed to do, unnoticed.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 'Wind, Sand, and Stars,' 1939.
The Americans cannot build aeroplanes. They are very good at refrigerators and razor blades.
— Hermann Goering, German Air Force Minister, in letter to Hitler, 1940.
Mark my word: A combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile. But it will come—
— Henry Ford, Chairman, Ford Motor Company, 1940.
In its present state, and even considering the
improvements possible when adopting the higher temperatures proposed for
the immediate future, the gas turbine engine could hardly be considered a
feasible application to airplanes mainly because of the difficulty in
complying with the stringent weight requirements imposed by aeronautics.
— The Committee on Gas Turbines appointed by The National Academy of Sciences, 10 June 1940. Frank Whittle has said that:
"Good thing I was too stupid to know this."
The Air Corps . . . does not, at this time, feel justified in obligating . . . funds for basic jet propulsion research and experimentation.
— Brigadier General George H. Brett, Chief of Material, U.S. Army Air Corps. Letter to Professor Robert Goddard regards the rejection of rocket research proposals. 1941.
By then men will have forgotten how to fly, they will be passengers on machines whose conductors are carefully promoted to a familiarity with labeled buttons, and in whose minds the knowledge of the sky and the wind and the way of the weather will be as extraneous as passing fiction.
— Beryl Markham, in her 1942 memoir West With The Night.
Automobiles will start to decline almost as soon as the last shot is fired in World War II. The name of Igor Sikorsky will be as wellknown as Henry Ford's, for his helicopter will all but replace the horseless carriage as the new means of popular transportation. Instead of a car in every garage, there will be a helicopter.... These 'copters' will be so safe and will cost so little to produce that small models will be made for teenage youngsters. These tiny 'copters, when school lets out, will fill the sky as the bicycles of our youth filled the prewar roads.
— Harry Bruno, aviation publicist, 1943.
Gliders... [will be] the freight trains of the air.... We can visualize a locomotive plane leaving LaGuardia Field towing a train of six gliders in the very near future. By having the load thus divided it would be practical to unhitch the glider that must come down in Philadelphia as the train flies over that place — similarly unhitching the loaded gliders for Washington, for Richmond, for Charleston, for Jacksonville, as each city is passed — and finally the air locomotive itself lands in Miami. During that process it has not had to make any intermediate landings, so that it has not had to slow down.
— Grover Loening, consulting engineer Grumman Aircraft, in 'Miracles Ahead! Better Living in the Postwar World,' 1944
There has been a great deal said about a 3,00-mile high-angle rocket.
The people who have been writing these things that annoy me, have been
talking about a 3,000-mile high-angle rocket shot from one continent to
another, carrying an atomic bomb and so directed as to be a precise weapon
which would land exactly on a certain target, such as a city.
— Dr. Vannevar Bush, President of the Carnegie Institute of Washington DC, December 1945.
If you are in trouble anywhere in the world, an airplane can fly over and drop flowers, but a helicopter can land and save your life.
— Igor Sikorsky, 1947
The way to fly is to go straight up . . . Such a machine (the helicopter) will never compete with the aeroplane, though it will have specialized uses, and in these it will surpass the aeroplane. The fact that you can land at your front door is the reason you can't carry heavy loads efficiently.
— Emile Berliner, 1948
We are coming into a new era of flight, an ear in which all past conception of time and distance is changing and changing at a very, very rapid rate.
— Allan Lockheed, founder of Lockheed Aircraft, film outtake of We Saw It Happen, 1953.
Possibly everyone will travel by air in another fifty years. I'm not sure I like the idea of millions of planes flying around overhead. I love the sky's unbroken solitude. I don't like to think of it cluttered up by aircraft, as roads are cluttered up by cars. I feel like the western pioneer when he saw barbed-wire fence lines encroaching on his open plains. The success of his venture brought the end of the life he loved.
— Charles Lindbergh, The Spirit of St. Louis, 1953.
Mass travel by air may prove to be more significant to world destiny than the atom bomb.
— Juan Trippe, Pan Am President, speech at IATA conference 1955.
We have all the prerequisities to build an aircraft powered by an atomic engine, in the near future.
— E. P. Slavsky, chief of the Soviet atomic energy effort, reported in Flying magazine at the start of the article 'Nuclear Power for Aircraft: Though many problems still exist, the A-powered plane's future looks brighter,' June 1957.
No matter what we do now, the Russians will beat us to the Moon . . . I would not be surprised if the Russians reached the Moon within a week.
— John Rinehart, Smithsonian Institution. October 1957.
Supersonic airplanes have carried men at more than 2,000 miles per hour and there are reasons to believe that this speed will be doubled by 1960 or so.
— Igor Sikorsky, 14 January 1958.
The greatest advance in aviation since the Wright Brothers.
—the 'New York Times,' 1961. A much over used phrase, used here to describe the start of the Eastern Air-Shuttle between New York and Washington.
The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a "C," the idea must be feasible.
— A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Fred Smith later started FedEx. 1965. In a 'Fortune' magazine interview on their website, Fred says that:
"Today that paper is kind of famous, and it's because of a careless comment I once made. I was asked what grade I got on it, and I stupidly said, 'I guess I got my usual gentlemanly C.' That stuck, and it's become a well-known story because everybody likes to flout authority. But to be honest, I don't really remember what grade I got. I probably didn't get a very good one, though, because it wasn't a well-thought-out paper."
The V/STOL aircraft has been to the transport industry just as girls are to a young boy. In both cases very attractive features can be recognized in this new object of interest but the way in which advantage could be taken of them is not at all clear. Just as the boy learns eventually that success is achieved through a sophisticated and often expensive approach to the problem, so the V/STOL user has finally realized that a simple cheap approach will not lead to success. In both cases substantial satisfaction should follow successful solution to the problem.
— C. W. Harper, NASA, Flight Safety Foundation Newsletter, November 1966.
The creative conquest of space will serve as a wonderful substitute for war.
— James S. McDonnell, 'Time,' 31 March 1967.
Nothing will stop us. The road to the stars is steep and dangerous. But we're not afraid . . . Space flights can't be stopped. This isn't the work of one man or even a group of men. It is a historical process which mankind is carrying out in accordance with the natural laws of human development.
— Yuri Gagarin, regards the first death in space (Vladimir Komarov), 1967.
I know that some knowledgeable people fear that although we might be willing to spend a couple of billion dollars in 1958, because we still remember the humiliation of Sputnik last October, next year we will be so preoccupied by color television, or new-style cars, or the beginning of another national election, that we will be unwilling to pay another year's installment on our space conquest bill. For that to happen well, I'd just as soon we didn't start.
— Hugh L. Dryden
The ability to carry out scientific observations at a distance is developing so rapidly that I don't see any unique role for man in planetary exploration.
— Gordon MacDonald, National Academy of Sciences, 1968.
If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible he is almost certainly right, but if he says that it is impossible he is very probably wrong.
— Arthur C. Clarke, in the 'New Yorker' magazine, 9 August 1969.
One day the stars will be as familiar to each man as the landmarks, the curves, and the hills on the road that leads to his door, and one day that will be an airborne life.
— Beryl Markham, 'West With The Night.'
Future growth potential looks unlimited . . . one gross weight doubling, and possibly two, is predicted by 1985; nuclear power can drive [the C-5A's] optimum weight to 5 or 10 million pounds before the year 2000.
— F. A. Cleveland, 1970.
To squander a fortune in public money, billions and billions, stubbornly carrying on with a Concorde we can only sell to ourselves.
— Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, Editor of L'Express and member of the the French Chambre des D—put—s, 28 August 1972.
A very friendly boom, like a pair of gleeful handclaps.
— Sir James Lighthill, UK government scientific advisor regards Concorde supersonic noise profile, 1971.
The new engines are far quieter than the prototypes, People living near the airports will hardly notice the aircraft.
— Henry Marking, British Airways, regards Concorde, 1975.
But the airplane's potential would not — in fact, could not — be realized by a community of businessmen acting alone. The Federal Government would stand at their side, becoming, in effect, civil aviation's indispensable partner. The partnership flourishes to this day.
— Nick A. Komons, FAA Historian, Bonfires to Beacons, 1977.
There are no practical alternatives to air transportation.
— Daniel S. Goldin, NASA Administrator, 20 March 1997.
In a relatively short period of time—maybe 15 to 20 years—I
believe we're going to fly hypersonic and we'll look at SSBJs [supersonic
business jets] as not having been a necessary intermediate stop. We'll
bounce across the top of the atmosphere at Mach 5-6 or do suborbital lobs
flying weightless. Travel time may be reduced to as little as 60 minutes
anywhere on Earth.
— Burt Rutan, interview in Professional Pilot magazine, March 2006.
I think nuclear-powered aeroplanes are the answer beyond 2050.
— Ian Poll, Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Cranfield university and Head of Technology for the UK Government's Omega project, reported in The Times of London, 27 October 2008.
Although humans today remain more capable than machines for many tasks, by 2030 machine capabilities will have increased to the point that humans will have become the weakest component in a wide array of systems and processes. Humans and machines will need to become far more closely coupled, through improved human-machine interfaces and by direct augmentation of human performance
— Werner J.A. Dahm, United States Air Force Chief Scientist (AF/ST) Report on Technology Horizons A Vision for Air Force Science & Technology During 2010-2030. Issued 15 May 2010
Nothing can prevent us from another day and night, and the myth of perpetual flight.
— Bertrand Piccard, co-founder of Solar Impulse, the first manned airplane to stay aloft on battery power through a night. After 26 hours aloft, pilot Andre Borschberg landed the solar-powered four-engine aircraft with a net positive charge in the batteries. Morning of 8 July 2010.
This is the future of aviation. Our children will not believe that people used to drive cars and drive airplanes. We are the weak link in the chain.
— Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine and founder of 3D Robotics. Regards autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles, reported in the New York Times, 15 May 2011.
The first company to produce a certified two seat electric aircraft with a 1.5 hour range will dominate the aviation training market.
— Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh and on the board of the X Prize Foundation, 29 September 2011.
New York to Tokyo could be less than an hour. You could be traveling at 19,000 miles per hour orbitally. After we've done the space program, we will be producing supersonic planes, which will go far, far, faster than Concorde.
— Richard Branson, CEO Virgin Group, interview on CNBC TV, 6 May 2014.
There's a real opportunity to have a vertical takeoff and landing electric supersonic jet.
— Elon Musk. If anybody else said it, it's crazy talk. For the founder of Paypal, Solar City, Tesla and Space X it's something to work on. TV interview with Stephen Colbert, 24 July 2014.
I also have a list of Space Prediction Quotations
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