DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. -- Travel to the moon? "It's not within reason." Thomas Alva Edison said in 1911.
The great American inventor, who was credited with the phonograph, the electric light and the carbon telephone transmitter before he died in 1931, didn't claim to be an expert on "flying machines." He admitted man had a lot to learn.
Frank Slomzenski of Dearborn Heights is the proud possessor of a book, copyrighted in 1911, whose long title and explanation gave a thrilling account of fledgling aviation activities.
Its full title and subtitle was: "Thrilling Achievements of 'Bird Men' with Flying Machines."
"Being a Comprehensive History of Aerial Navigation, with Graphic Accounts of Thrilling Flights, Daring Dashes and Desperate Courage, Hair-Breadth Escapes in the Whirling Eddies of Upper Currents, Plunges to Death from Airships a Mile in the Clouds, Battling with the elements and Out-Stripping the Fastest Express Trains.
"Marvelous and Daring Flights over Oceans and Mountains. Describing How Almost Super-Human Ingenuity has Set Naught the Laws of Gravity and Made Men To Soar As Do the Eagles."
Its author, Jay Henry Mobray, Ph.D. and LL.D., posed the question of air travel to Edison, who replied:
"A flying machine is not exactly in my line. I am keeping more close to earth. I never worked on a flying machine but once, and that was years ago.
"But we are face to face with aerial navigation, face to face with it on a scale of which we have never dreamed. In 10 years flying machines will be used to carry the mails. They'll carry passengers too.
"They'll go at a speed of 100 miles an hour. There is no doubt of it. Anything within reason can be accomplished. The commercially successful flying machine is within reason.
"Ask me if a man can ever jump from the earth to the moon, and I will reply, 'No,' because it is not within reason," Edison was quoted.
But he said he felt the "aeroplane type of flying machine" would be succeeded by something far better.
"Anything within reason can be accomplished," he said, "and invention will go on forever with increasing rapidity. We know nothing -- nothing."