View Full Version : Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight breaking news

10th Jun 2015, 04:13
Still think the Wrights flew first? A new book, "Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight" details new discoveries to add to the extensive evidence concerning the aeroplane inventor's successful powered flights in 1901, with new revelations about the Wright brothers and how their vise-like grip on aviation history occurred. This book counters the widespread misinformation about Whitehead on the Internet. A reviewer says, "This is a most extraordinary book, not just because of the historical importance of the subject matter, but also because of the thoroughly documented case that leaves no doubt that the Wright brothers were not the First to Fly."

10th Jun 2015, 06:51
Give us a link, I can find no such book. Well, I did find one, but nothing to do with Whitehead.

Captain Dart
10th Jun 2015, 08:55
Was his flight sustained, controlled, documented and repeated?

I'll stick with the Wrights, thank you.

10th Jun 2015, 09:26
We've been round this hamster wheel before. There could be an interesting discussion about the various contributions of the pioneers (amongst whom Whitehead is NOT to be numbered), but this is just another outcrop of some strange obsession with denigrating the Wrights. It's probably all the fault of the Illuminati, or Skull and Bones.

PPRuNe Towers
10th Jun 2015, 10:46
I have to declare an interest - the 'pioneer' period is the one that overrides all others for me. Bookcase and my ruthlessly hoarded wood, plans, tools and materials all point to a busy retirement when it comes.........

I know that this isn't the period for most people but to gauge the water and give a gentle assist our one topic wonder ain't playing on this thread.


longer ron
10th Jun 2015, 17:11
The username might give a clue as to a motive to attempt to denigrate other early aviators.
But this book would definitely be in the 'fiction' category :)

10th Jun 2015, 18:51
But this book would definitely be in the 'fiction' categoryThe "review" quoted in post #1 also seems to be a figment of the OP's imagination.

10th Jun 2015, 19:51
We've been round this hamster wheel before.
Haven't we just!
Seemingly nothing new here regarding Whitehead's claims ( or those of the Wrights for that matter) since the last discussion petered out.

11th Jun 2015, 01:17
Had to wonder what answer the OP may have come up with re my question. The title of the book he quotes is actually about the Wrights. Obviously stopped his meds.

11th Jun 2015, 07:08
OK, I stand corrected - the newly-published book does exist:


Some amusing reviews on Amazon, for example:

"This book captures the full flavor of The Whitehead Myth, with an impressive amount of material, both pertinent and off-center. The author presents very little that wasn't already known to those who have researched this matter, and much of what is included is not what serious scholars and historians would term "evidence."

Drawing on her father's archive of Whitehead material, it was possible new and compelling material would be included, but that appears to not be so. It is dated in crucial areas - for instance there's no mention that in April 2015 IHS/Jane's disowned the pro-Whitehead editorial which appeared in the March 2013 Jane's All The World's Aircraft.

The Whitehead's "flights" of 1901 and 1902 were certainly myths and fabrications. As a gathering of support for the Whitehead claims, this book is about as good as one will ever be, but it does not make a persuasive case.

Of course, it's difficult to prove a falsehood"

11th Jun 2015, 08:35

To be fair, you have selected the one negative review. There are three positive ones, such as;

This is a most extraordinary book, not just because of the historical importance of the subject matter, but also because of the thoroughly documented case that leaves no doubt that the Wright brothers were not the First to Fly.

Susan Brinchman has done a first class job of research and writing. Her work will stand the test of time. Scholars and schoolboys and aviation fans the world over should read this essential true history of those first moments in man's ascent into the skies.


joy ride
11th Jun 2015, 10:18
Everything depends on which criteria you use to define human flight:

witnessed, lighter-than-air, heavier-than-air, powered, unassisted, controlled, sustained, survived, soaring, repeated.

The first four of those were met (in chronological order) by the Montgolfier Brothers, Sir Geroge Cayley's gliders, Otto Lillienthal's gliders, Clement Ader and arguably a few others. Any claim not witnessed has to be considered as dubious.

"Unassisted" (no fortuitous bump on take-off run, no gradient, wind or mechanism) seems to be open to debate, requiring careful measurement and reliable, impartial witnesses.

"Controlled" is normally taken to mean "3 Axis Control", yet plenty of known aircraft fly without 3 AC by body movement or 2AC; some military planes only fly thanks to high speed computers. IMO, this means that "Controlled" has questionable relevance as a criterion, certainly since Lillienthal's glides.

"Sustained" and "Soaring" seem to me to be debatable, and also reliant on witnesses, who themselves are not always fully reliable.

"Survived" is obvious!

"Repeated" can be debated if not witnessed.

The debate will never end!

11th Jun 2015, 12:13
As everyone engaged in aircraft manufacturing, testing and maintenance knows:

"The Job's Not Done Until the Paperwork's Done"

The Wright's documented everything. They did wind tunnel testing on their aerofoil designs - building their own wind tunnel to do so in the process. They kept their records for examination and did a professional job.

Other claimants may have flown before them, but in the event they failed in the follow-up - their design and development paperwork simply wasn't up to scratch.

11th Jun 2015, 18:15
...and that is possibly the saddest indictment of aviation's worst woe I have ever read.

Cows getting bigger
11th Jun 2015, 19:43
More like a few too many sherries. :ugh:

11th Jun 2015, 20:54
I didn't say it was true. Food for thought, certainly.

11th Jun 2015, 23:53
I think that Gustave Whitehead was the first, but that it will never be possible to prove it;

Gustave Whitehead - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Whitehead)

12th Jun 2015, 02:08
The Wright's documented everything.Spot on Blacksheep. Disregarding everything else, this is where the Wrights claim stands the test of time. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale will not accept any claim unless it is supported by How to set a record - The following information is valid for World and Continental Records of all sports and disciplines.

Check on the FAI record pages what the best previous performance is, if any, for the record you would like to set. Do not forget to check the record claims pending homologation.
Review the FAI Sporting Code, General Section and relevant Specialised Section, to get an understanding of the rules and documentation requirements.
For the definition of the course used for your record attempt, you will need the exact distance given by the World Distance Calculator.
Obtain an FAI sporting license from your National Airsport Control Organisation (NAC) if you do not already hold a valid one.
Your flight or jump will have to be properly monitored and controlled. Determine with your NAC who will serve as Official Observer(s). If the flight is a 'speed over a recognised course' record between 2 airports, each with a control tower, the tower personnel are entitled to certify the times of start and finish.
You should get in touch with your Official Observer(s) to discuss the flight or jump and the procedures for documenting the record.
The fun part.... you make the performance !
Within 7 days of the record attempt, FAI must be officially notified that the flight or jump was successful and provided with basic details of the performance, preferably using the Standard Preliminary Claim Form. Fax or email are acceptable.
Send your NAC the complete details of the flight or jump (on the prescribed forms if applicable) including any evidence required such as photographs, barograms.
After your NAC receives and reviews the documentation file, your record should be certified as a National Record.
If a World or Continental Record is being claimed, your NAC must then forward a complete dossier containing the original evidence to FAI in Lausanne within 120 days requesting that FAI approves the record as a World or Continental Record.
Please note that FAI charges NACs an administrative fee of CHF 200 for processing each World or Continental record dossier. NACs may decide to pass this charge on to claimants.
History of the FAI. It seems from the earliest days people were cognisant of the issues surrounding claims of who did what, and the need of proof to back up those claims.At the start of the 20th Century, the pioneering flights of pilots such as Clement Ader, the Wright Brothers and Santos-Dumont, the proliferation of aeronautical competitions, and increasingly rapid technological advances marked the real birth of the modern aviation era.

A small group of men recognized the growing need for an international federation to coordinate and give direction to the rapidly growing aeronautical activity.

On 10 June 1905, Count Henri de la Vaulx, Vice President of the Aero Club of France, Major Moedebeck of the German Airship League and Fernand Jacobs, President of the Aero Club of Belgium, gave a presentation to the Olympic Congress of Brussels on their proposal for a "Fédération Aéronautique Internationale". The delegates received the idea warmly, and in token of its support the Olympic Congress adopted thefollowing resolution:"This Congress, recognizing the special importance of aeronautics, expresses the desire that in each country, there be created an Association for regulating the sport of flying and that thereafter there be formed a Universal Aeronautical Federation to regulate the various aviation meetings and advance the science and sport of Aeronautics."

On 12 October 1905, an international aeronautical conference was convened in Paris. After two days of debate, the representatives of Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the USA adopted the entire package of proposed Statutes. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale was founded on 14 October 1905. From its inception, the FAI defined its principal aims as being to"methodically catalogue the best performances achieved, so that they be known to everybody; to identify their distinguishing features so as to permit comparisons to be made; and to verify evidence and thus ensure that record-holders have undisputed claims to their titles." The statutes also specified that each body holding sporting powers (i.e. the national members of FAI) should retain full and autonomous control over its own affairs.

12th Jun 2015, 03:11
it seems to me there was another thread like this from some troll with nothing to do in alaska.

much has been said about old gustav. even "JANES" made a big thing about it, even though "JANES" (the airplane, aeroplane, flhying machine part) wasn't published until 6 years after the WRIGHTs flew.

Let's think about this. The Wrights were secretive with some advice from the best patent attorney in ohio. But with their French triumphs they were well known. did gustav complain then?


Did someone in the great state of Connecticut contact the state legislation THEN (circa 1908/1909) to pass a statement of first flight? NO.

Did old Gustav get in his plane and circle a major city dropping leaflets saying: I WAS FIRST THE WRIGHTS AREN'T RIGHT. NO.

Is Gustav's picture on my airman's certificate as issued by the FAA. NO, its the WRIGHTs, not GUSTAV.

Is there a giant park maintained by the Federal Govt of the USA to celebrate Gustav? NO.
To the Wrights? YES.

Did the apollo astronauts take a piece of Gustav's plane to the moon ? No...but the Wrights were so honored.

This gustav thing is someone's idea of making money, not correcting the wrongs of history.

If you put an engine, a prop, a fuel tank on a barn door it will probably jump up into the air. But you can't make it really fly .

and if you want to really say who was first in flight, wasn't it Dadelus?

IF there was an aeronautical mount rushmore, Wilbur, Orville, Charles Lindbergh and James Doolittle would be on it. NO GUSTAV

Cows getting bigger
12th Jun 2015, 07:04
megan, nice bit about FAI but the FAI didn't get going until two years after the Wright Brothers' first flights and a few more years after Gustave's alleged flights.

13th Jun 2015, 01:01
14 October 1905, as stated in my post.

Niner Lima Charlie
13th Jun 2015, 14:38
IF there was an aeronautical mount rushmore, Wilbur, Orville, Charles Lindbergh and James Doolittle would be on it.

Doolittle would not be there, he never designed an airplane nor did he make any major advancements in aero engineering.

I would add Clarence "Kelly" Johnson to the group. (Lockheed Electra, F-104, P-38, Constellation, F-80, U-2, SR-71, F-117 and the C-130.)

15th Jun 2015, 12:04
"Billy" Mitchell opened our eyes to the potential of aerial bombardment, albeit in a staged demonstration. Yamamoto executed Mitchell's plans in real life.

But it was Doolittle who quickly improvised a plan, using existing weaponry, to "return fire" and force the enemy to reconsider its strategy. :ok:

15th Jun 2015, 12:59
niner lima charlie

I do not offer jimmy doolittle's tokyo raid as reason for mt rushmore inclusion.

you might not know this, but thanks to doolittle we can land in fog. thanks to doolittle there was enough high octane gasoline to support engines during WW2. His blind landing and other instrument flying technique development happened well before WW2.

Doolittle did a lot. Not just the tokyo raid. I always laugh when people get doolittle's contribution to aviation wrong. Gallantry during WW2 is just a part of this amazing man.

add to the instrument flying, he was a pioneer in high speed flying during the interwar years .

And, just for good measure, if it were not for the doolittle raid, the battle of midway may not have happened which was the turning point in the war in the pacific..

I should have made it more obvious, but my aviation mt rushmore requires people to be pilots too.

15th Jun 2015, 16:43
I think the point should be noted that our friend's 'Mt.Rushmore' of American Aviation pioneers has, inevitably, to be almost exclusively limited to the 20th Century.
By which time ,of course, most of the essential aviation fundamentals had been pretty much established elsewhere, including the first pilots.

joy ride
15th Jun 2015, 20:00
An aviation Mt Rushmore would clearly, and fairly, be limited to US achievements, but you're right that it would not honour others around the world!

15th Jun 2015, 23:08
excuse me, perhaps someone might explain to me anyone else they might want for an INTERNATIONAL mt rushmore of aviation.

You might want to throw in whittle and his gas turbine. maybe. but as i mentioned I would want the person to be a pilot too.

And, it does so happen that every major aviation triumph was american. Anyone care to offer another opinion?

16th Jun 2015, 06:55
You might want to throw in whittle and his gas turbine. maybe. but as i mentioned I would want the person to be a pilot too.

Whittle was a qualified RAF pilot.

But of course , in the light of your latter statements , one can't really be surprised as to your ignorance of that fact.

Cows getting bigger
16th Jun 2015, 07:07
Montgolfier Brothers - let me see? Nope, didn't think they were American. :)

16th Jun 2015, 08:31
And, it does so happen that every major aviation triumph was american. Anyone care to offer another opinion?

Good trolling.

Let's see. Cayley; Lilienthal; Santos Dumont; Bleriot; Alcock and Brown; Hans von Ohain (I don't know if he was a pilot, but he could have been); Alan Cobham; Igor Sikorsky (before he went to America); Hugo Eckener; Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. To pluck only a few names at random.

Face it: by most criteria that count, the Wrights were first. But apart from them, Chanute and maybe Langley, aviation in the US was way behind Europe, especially France, until the 1920s, which is the time frame relevant to this thread.

joy ride
16th Jun 2015, 09:38
And, it does so happen that every major aviation triumph was american. Anyone care to offer another opinion?

Yes, my opinion is that this is the most blinkered, nationalist and wildly untrue statement I have ever read on PPRUNE !

16th Jun 2015, 10:59
And a fair bit of US progress in the 40s and 50s was predicated on jet technology we gave them, and the work of the German scientists illegally transferred to the US under Op Paperclip and other similar programmes.

16th Jun 2015, 12:24
Ah, the view from the other side of the pond is out.

Whittle? Well, he took marine turbines and turned them into airborne turbines. I would trump that with the ground breaking work of R Goddard and the liquid fuel rocket. (after all , the fastest plane is still the X15 with a liquid fuel rocket!)

It is interesting to see what people think. I laughed at some of the views like, "EXCEPT FOR THE WRIGHT BROTHERS..."

And the bit about german technology and research was interesting, but they seemed to borrow heavily from Goddard's work on rockets. Oh well.

Indeed most of the names mentioned are just sorts of footnotes and not the kind of transforming personalities of aviation. Even the montgolfiers didn't invent hot air!

I stand by my original 4 for an ALL encompassing aviation Mt. Rushmore.

16th Jun 2015, 12:39
Niner Lima Charlie:I would add Clarence "Kelly" Johnson to the group.

Just a moment's diversion: Lindbergh's 1927 flight was remarkable in many respects: Astute engineering (minimum weight and drag and power), great personal dedication, and salesmanship. One man, nonstop NY - Paris. Just enough to win the Orteig prize (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orteig_Prize).

But just one decade later, Kelly Johnson's design, a Lockheed 14 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Model_14_Super_Electra), flew that same route in one-half the time, with five aboard - Howard Hughes was piloting.

They refueled and flew onward around the world, albeit not a true circumnavigation (about 10000 miles short.)

16th Jun 2015, 13:08
Leaving aside for the moment the "international vs American" aspects of this imaginary Mt. Rushmore of aviation:

I deem it more significant to reward the engineers and designers and dreamers of aviation. The Wrights were above all homemade engineers, who conducted a series of ever-more-sophisticated experiments using the best tools they could find. Among these was engineering wind tables which had been used to design tall structures; and when they found discrepancies in their own data, they designed and built a wind tunnel. They then used it to collect original data to rewrite the wind tables to reflect reality! This is true scientific curiosity in action, and made heavier-than-air flight a reality.

Thus I submit that it is engineering, not piloting, that places the Wrights on our mythical Mt. Rushmore, even though they taught themselves and others the skills of piloting. Likewise I would go down the list of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collier_Trophy awards to find worthy engineers to add to stone gravings.

16th Jun 2015, 15:21
If I can add some fuel to the fire- If we use the chiseled in stone metaphor for 4 American aviation icons I offer: Orville, Wilbur, Lindburg, Armstrong.....

I think these 4 have ther best chance of being long, long remembered...

Note I did not say "best" or most inovative or influential- that may be a different list. It is not always about personal contibution, invovation, etc. Some are just held higher in the public conscious.

16th Jun 2015, 15:27
Why is it that these amusingly imagined versions of aviation history keep reminding me of "U571", " Pearl Harbor" and "Flyboys"?

16th Jun 2015, 18:14
dear haraka

pearl harbor, the movie was rotten, the other two I didn't see.

Somehow I think teaching the world to fly on instruments is more important than anything bleriot, santos dumont, or even whittle did. Therefore I believe doolittle belongs on the mt rushmore i propose. By the way, he had a degree from M.I.T. in aeronautics/aeronautical engineering.

Lindbergh helped design, construct the plane, did the navigation and actually accomplished what he set out to do. Fly from New York to Paris, nonstop. This (along with the brilliant orteig prize) opened the world to the possibility of a vast air transportation system. Others tried to do things like this, take earhart. She tried to do less, with more and still failed in her attempt to fly to paris, and not even from new york!

The Wrights figured out how to control a plane, found that previous calculations on lift were wrong, and taught the world to fly, for about 1000 dollars of their own money. And they are both on my pilot's license!

And I submit that it is a little of both, piloting and engineering that would make the case for those on the Mt Rushmore of aviation.

16th Jun 2015, 19:06
I have always had an interest in Bletchley, Enigma, etc since they came into the public domain. I was therefore somewhat blown away on taking up my post at a well known south coast Yacht Club to find that one of the members was the guy who took Enigma off U-110. At the end of a Members' lecture on the subject he showed with permission a clip of "U571", about to be released, pointing out that at the end there was a frame saying the film was a work of fiction, based on the exploits of a certain sub lieutenant RN, and which he had persuaded the producers to add.

17th Jun 2015, 01:23
And, it does so happen that every major aviation triumph was american

Aircraft pressurisation, American? Nope.

Packard-Le Père LUSAC-11, (1920, a modified French design, not actually pressurized but with an enclosed, oxygen enriched cockpit)
Engineering Division USD-9A, a modified Airco DH.9A (1921 - the first aircraft to fly with the addition of a pressurized cockpit module)
Junkers Ju 49 (1931 - a German experimental aircraft purpose-built to test the concept of cabin pressurization)
Farman F.1000 (1932 - a French record breaking pressurised cockpit, experimental aircraft)
Chizhevski BOK-1 (1936 - a Russian experimental aircraft)
Lockheed XC-35 (1937 - an American pressurized aircraft. Rather than a pressure capsule enclosing the cockpit, the monocoque fuselage skin was the pressure vessel.)

17th Jun 2015, 02:24

I said MAJOR advancement.

17th Jun 2015, 03:46
And, it does so happen that every major aviation triumph was american. Anyone care to offer another opinion?

Yes, my opinion is that this is the most blinkered, nationalist and wildly untrue statement I have ever read on PPRuNe ! Have to agree joy ride. The cousins do have a tendency to beat their chests and proclaim, "We are the greatest", never mind the contributions made by others. The Collier trophy is an American award made only to Americans. The Wrights were not an all American endeavour, in as much they corresponded world wide to other experimenters in order to crystallise their thought on how to proceed. The P-51 would not have existed without the British, and it's famed cooling system was the direct result of research by one British engineer by the name of F. W. Meredith. Also used on the Spitfire, so the P-51 was not the "first" to use the system to reduce cooling drag. The Meredith effect led to research by the Americans on the aero-thermodynamic duct, or ramjet due to the similarity of their principles of operation. Advances are due to international cooperation. As Isaac Newton said, "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants".

17th Jun 2015, 08:04
the P51 would not have existed except for the british, interesting.

would the british exist if not for the P51? Or the lockheed hudson, or B17, B24, or the Harvard? And certainly would not exist if it had not been for the C47/dakota.

Again, MAJOR , not minor things

surprised you have not taken credit for the overhead reading light , or the wemac.

joy ride
17th Jun 2015, 08:10
It seems from this thread that the criteria have now been "stretched" so that only those with a scientific background qualify as important pioneers.

So for those who want "Aviation Science" to be a criterion for determining pioneering achievements, learn about Cayley here:


He set down the scientific principles for flight in 1799, quite a long time before Wright, Whitehead, Ader and others.

Look too at the Royal Aeronautical Society, founded in 1866:


Look too at Stringfellow:


If these are not American enough to be considered as significant to Flight, consider that Chanute and the Wright Brothers, and many other pioneers were avid readers of every paper published by RAeS.

(These links happen to concern British aviation, but I do not ignore or dismiss the contributions and achievements of many others around the world!)

17th Jun 2015, 12:34
I seem to recall that the wright plane was on display in england for many years, up until 1942 I think.

thinking about flying is one thing

DOING flying is the criteria. (sic)

Cows getting bigger
17th Jun 2015, 12:42
Traditionally, I like the AHN bit of PPRuNe because most people talk sense. Occasionally a skewed or myopic view is presented and, despite the balanced inputs of others, that view remains; this undermines the ordinarily mature discussion that can be found here..

The true irony is that skyhighfallguy is probably of British/Irish/Spanish/Italian/Etc descent and is quite possibly proud of his family heritage.

17th Jun 2015, 13:12
the P51 would not have existed except for the british, interesting.You need to read up on your history me lad.skyhighfallguy is probably of British/Irish/Spanish/ItalianI very much doubt he is a native American Indian.

joy ride
17th Jun 2015, 14:10
And the bit about german technology and research was interesting, but they seemed to borrow heavily from Goddard's work on rockets.

Goddard was fully aware of the British Army's use of Congreve's explosive rockets a century or two previously, and of Chinese ones dating back to centuries earlier.

the montgolfiers didn't invent hot air!

Correct. Likewise the Wrights did not invent air, aerodynamics, wings, tailplanes, propellers internal combustion engines, and under-carriage. Furthermore, birds and insects have used wing warping for millions of years. In fact, once the IC engine had been invented, and was providing better power to weight ratios than other power sources, then Powered Controlled and Sustained flight was INEViTABLE, thanks to science and experiments by RAeS and others.

Exclude the Montgolfiers by that Criterion, and you logically exclude the Wrights!

I agree strongly with Cows getting bigger, I love AHN, I love good discussion and I am happy to learn new facts and even be proved wrong occasionally, but myopic nationalism and xenophobia spoil the discussion.

17th Jun 2015, 17:41
myopic nationalism and xenophobia spoil the discussion.
To these factors I would politely suggest that we can now comfortably add,
abysmal subject ignorance Regarding the current exchange I think this is emphatically supported . For example regarding elementary topics , this individual is fully demonstrating his lack of knowledge of Frank Whittle's flying qualifications ( he was an R.A.F. pilot of course), zero comprehension of the established history of the P.51's origins ( U.K. purchasing etc.) and evident confusion regarding the actual chronology ( and reasons for) the various locations of the alleged Wright "Flyer" - seven years out regarding the U.K. residence history.
So perhaps we best take the good advice offered and not deign to "feed the troll".
It's a waste of time.

17th Jun 2015, 19:02
Thanks for mentioning the RAeS joy ride. Can't say I was that familiar with the organisation, so forced to do a bit of research. Interesting that it was formed way back in 1866, and that it presents awards to anyone in the world who they deem worthy, the first Gold Medal being awarded to the Wright Brothers.

17th Jun 2015, 19:08
I think you guys just don't get it.

I know the history of the P51 quite well, I know all about the mating of the merlin with the north american airframe. I understand how the purchasing commision was in need of airplanes and wanted north american to build the P40 on license and that North American offered them better! I am all for the special relationship that WC spoke between the US and England.

You didn't get it when I mentioned that without the P51 you might not have England. But then we tend to only understand what we want. You might want to re-read my post.

What the Wrights did was to put everything together and FIGURE OUT HOW TO OVERCOME WARP DRAG (we would call it adverse aileron yaw now a days) thus allowing coordinated turns. No one had figured that out until the Wrights.

AS to Rockets, anyone could make a simple solid fuel (gunpowder type) rocket. A liquid fueled rocket made history just west of boston, many years ago.

And those who speculate upon my heritage, I was born and raised in the USA. My grandparents on both sides came from greece, you know that country, Dadelus was the first to fly, right?

I think you should all go and watch, "those magnificient men in their flying machines" and try to feel much better .

But the Wrights invented the airplane

Lindbergh proved what it could do

And doolittle provided us a way to fly ''blind''.

pressurization, cookies, flight attendants,jet engines, hydraulics are all the nice things.

But flying could have been done without the nice things.

Mt Rushmore of Aviation, settled.

17th Jun 2015, 20:46
But the Wrights invented the airplaneThere you go again, no they didn't.

The Wrights never claimed to have invented the airplane, or even the first airplane to fly. In their own words, they made the first sustained, powered, controlled flights. Their patent was for "new and useful improvements in Flying-Machines."

17th Jun 2015, 21:24
There patent was worded in a way to protect the Wrights. I'm sorry it does not comport to your understanding.


there is a very nice book, called:

How We Invented the Airplane. An illustrated history. BY ORVILLE WRIGHT

Published, even listed with an ISBN 0-486-25662-6

It must ache you megan and others but there is the book. By the first flyer his own self.

CIP 87-33037

I'm glad you are all for doctoring history in your own way. It is amusing.

So thanks for all the good laughs folks. Just suck it up and motor on.

17th Jun 2015, 22:31
There patent was worded in a way to protect the WrightsThat's the reason for patents. I repeat, their patent is not for the invention of aircraft, but for "new and useful improvements" to aircraft. That is what they say on the patent, unless you can point to anything on the patent referring to invention of aircraft.By the first flyer his own selfNo it's not. The book was put together and given the title by Fred C. Kelly, and first published in 1953. The book is made up of Wright Brothers material including letters to Mr. Kelly from Orville and Milton Wright; photostatic copies of correspondence of the Wrights with each other and to and from others; diagrams; legal documents; photographs and writings by and about the Wrights.

Best suck it up and motor on lad. ;)

17th Jun 2015, 23:21

if you have your copy of the aforementioned book, look on page 11 and read the first 8 words on the page.

unless you have actually read the book, or have it in your hands, you are just reading some review.

And an interesting tidbit is on page 12, footnote 1 in which courts acknowledged that the wrights had priority on any method for presenting the right and left wings at different angles. (aileron principle)

Care to read the book, or even prove you have it in your hands?

oh and the smithsonian:

18th Jun 2015, 00:27
Sorry, my copy is Kindle - no page numbers, so you'll have to quote page 11.

The patents and courts do not say they invented the airplane, once again for the third time "new and useful improvements" was the patent, which was all about the means of control. A list of all their patents,

1. Flying Machine, Construction and Design of 1902 Glider (the "new and useful improvements"), Patent No. 821,393
2. Flying Machine, Automatic Stabilizer, Patent No. 1,075,533
3. Flying Machine, Yaw Control, Patent No. 987,662
4. Flying Machine, Vertical Rudders, Patent No. 1,122,348
5. Mechanism for Flexing the Rudder of a Flying Machine, Horizontal Rudder, Patent No. 908,929
6. Airplane, Split Flap, Patent No. 1.504,663
7. Toy, Type of toy in which and object was projected through the air and caused to be engaged and supported by a swinging bar, Patent No. 1,523,989

Everyone, including the Smithsonian, has jumped on the "they invented the airplane", and they can shout it from the roof tops for all it matters, because it's not the case, and the Brothers never claimed it to be the case. Just a little nationalism coming to the fore on their part.

18th Jun 2015, 01:13
go to the part that says:


ok, who did invent the airplane?

by the way, the control mechanism patent was based on the 1902 glider and not the powered plane

did the british invent radar? no, radio waves have been bouncing off things for years , but we say they invented the device we call RADAR.

The smithsonian didn't have to say anything. They could be as stubborn as you. But they did say it.

the inclined plane, one of the first simple machines of man has been around for thousands of years

is that the invention of the air plane?

joy ride
18th Jun 2015, 06:36
Haraka: ......QED, no further comment !

19th Jun 2015, 02:11
So perhaps we best take the good advice offered and not deign to "feed the troll".
It's a waste of time. joy ride and Harake, your advice is well taken. Converse with idiots and they only drag you down to their level, and beat you through experience. :E

19th Jun 2015, 04:16
thanks for the kind comments. I'm no idiot. the wrights invented the airplane.

but you didn't answer my question about who did invent the plane if the wrights didn't? and why did the us govt form a way of paying the wrights royalties on their patent in an expedited way?

and why does every US airman certificate have pictures of the wright brothers and their plane?

yeah, some people on pprune are going to rewrite history to make themselves feel better.

19th Jun 2015, 12:32
the wrights invented the airplane.Well, if you play on words and claim a glider not to be an airplane...
Who invents something? The first who makes a sketch and some calculations? The first who actually builds it? Or the first who actually uses it? In the latter case, the Wrights probably invented the airplane.

There is nothing technical on the wright plane which was not already invented, discussed and published before. But what makes the difference: the Wrights actually flew it! And that earns them their place in history.

19th Jun 2015, 13:14
Indeed "Volume", by strict definition a glider is not an aeroplane ( neither is a helicopter)- but it is an aircraft nevertheless.

The New Oxford Dictionary definition of an aeroplane is given as:
"a powered flying machine with fixed wings and a weight greater than the air it displaces"
ORIGIN: late 19th cent from French aéroplane from aéro 'air' +Greek planos 'wandering".

By this definition, which is one I was taught, then such a device was not invented by the Wrights.

What the Wrights did certainly achieve was to demonstrate three axis control in manned flight and arguably should be accordingly so honoured for their contribution toward the ever ongoing evolution of the aeroplane.

The same dictionary terms airplane as " North American term for AEROPLANE"

In my copy of the " Jane's Aerospace Dictionary" the following is stated:

aeroplane(US=airplane) BS 185,1940; " a flying machine with plane(s) fixed in flight"
Modern definition might be "mechanically propelled aerodyne sustained by wings which, in any one flight regime, remain fixed".
Bill Gunston's definition - not mine.

Note that such generally accepted definitions of an aeroplane, or "airplane", do not of course depend upon such a craft of necessity having an on-board pilot or obeying three axis control. Thus Stringfellow in 1848 had achieved powered flight with his aeroplane, as had many others around the world before 1900.

P.S. As a cross-check, I looked up Mirriam-Webster and other American based dictionary definitions of airplane on line. They all pretty much state verbatim the references quoted above.

joy ride
19th Jun 2015, 14:07
I completely agree with Haraka and the reputable sources he quotes.

19th Jun 2015, 14:34
Sir George Cayley was writing about and experimenting with aeroplanes (and using the word) before the Wright Brothers even commenced experimenting. Wilbur Wright had the following to say of him, "About 100 years ago, an Englishman, Sir George Cayley, carried the science of flight to a point which it had never reached before and which it scarcely reached again during the last century."

19th Jun 2015, 18:35
yes megan, we understand that

I have been experimenting and writing about faster than light drive for a spaceship


The Wrights invented the airplane, get over it.

And if you invent a faster than light drive and build a spaceship and fly to Tau Ceti, I WILL NOT CLAIM I INVENTED IT even though I wrote about it and experimented with it.


20th Jun 2015, 02:44
The Wrights invented the airplane, get over itThe Wrights didn't invent the airplane, get over it. They improved on what had been developed prior and were the first to achieve the ultimate success. In fact, there are those who credit Sir George Cayley with inventing the aeroplane, but not a claim I would make. Claims are made that Whittle invented the jet engine, yet a patent was filed as far back as 1791 for a gas turbine, and Ægidius Elling filed a patent in 1884, and went on to build and run the first operating gas turbine in 1903. Whittle, once again, didn't invent the jet engine, but built upon what had gone before. Metallurgy was a problem preventing many of the early experimenters progressing their ideas, in the case of aircraft a suitable power source. It took the development of the internal combustion engine before powered flight was a possibility. Once again, as Newton said, "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." The Wrights and Whittle were standing on the shoulders of those who had gone before and laid the ground work.

20th Jun 2015, 02:49
you still don't get it. the engine wasn't the thing. the ability to control the wing was the thing. there had been engines before the wright brothers started their work but there were no airplanes.

and that standing on the shoulders of giants line is really pretty boring.

and so are you

oh and for added interest the FAI wasn't organized until 1905...some 18 months after the wright brothers first flight, powered, controlled , resistance if futile!

20th Jun 2015, 06:24
Well, there is one question you need to answer if you persist in the Wrights invented the aeroplane argument, and that is, why didn't they patent inventing the airplane?

Patent - a grant made to an inventor assuring him the sole right to make, use, and sell his invention for a certain period of time
Invent - to conceive or devise something previously unknown

They couldn't patent the airplane because it was pre-existing. They patented those items they could, that being the means of control.oh and for added interest the FAI wasn't organized until 1905Tell me something I don't know. I posted that little fact back on page one (post #18).

Awaiting an answer as to why they didn't patent the aeroplane. resistance if futile! (am I presumptuous in assuming you meant "is futile"?)

joy ride
20th Jun 2015, 07:20
A Patent is NOT PROOF that the invention is new!

It just indicates that the Patent Office's searches have not found any evidence of the invention having existed previously, and therefore (according to them) it is "Novel".

Many Patents have been challenged in Court.

At the time of the Wright Brothers the US Patent Office had far lower standards than many European Patent Offices, did not search foreign Patent records and technical publications (as held in the Royal Aeronautical Society), and granted thousands of Patents for inventions which already existed, or were "Trivial" or "Obvious".

I hold UK and US Patents and am familiar with the process and history of Patents.

20th Jun 2015, 07:44
Joy ride,
IIRC did not proper patent searches regarding one of more of the Wrights "new and useful improvements" reveal that they infringed patents previously lodged by others in Europe ?
I am thinking in particular of wing warping/ aileron devices designed and constructed (going back to around 1860 or so).

Aileron of course being a word of French origin......

joy ride
20th Jun 2015, 08:33
I do not know anything specific about the technical details in the Wrights' Patents, but I do know for sure that boat, pump and mill sails were all "Known", and so too were the cables, ropes and pulleys and bell-cranks often used to shape and control them. Propellers were also "Known" and used long before 1903 (on boats, on some balloons and on Stringfellow's model aeroplane).

I am not a Patent Lawyer, and guessing what a Patent Office might have decided in the Wright Brother's era is unclear, but I think it is reasonable to say that the UK Patent Office would probably have found plenty of "Prior Art" in their searches.

This would have been shown to the Wrights and/or their Patent Agent(s) seeking their comments. I consider that ALL the mechanisms used by the Wrights were "Known" and "Obvious" and also identical in their function to the muscles and tendons acting on the bones of animal wings.

Therefore I doubt the Wrights's mechanisms could have been patented in UK unless the Wrights were able to demonstrate that their use for an aeroplane was entirely new.

20th Jun 2015, 20:25
Joy ride
"Prior art" was of course the cause that Curtis sought to provide evidence to invalidate the Wrights' case against him. Thus the remains of the late Langley's "Aerodrome' ( Langley being a past secretary of the Smithsonian) were acquired for restoration to flight. This machine duly flew off the river at Hammonsdport ( Lake Keuka) in 1914 thus supporting the fatuous claim that Langley " had succeeded in building the first aeroplane capable of sustaining free flight with a man."
Thus the aircraft was disingenuously displayed in the Smithsonian proclaiming it "the first-man carrying aeroplane in the history of the world capable of sustaining free flight"
Unfortunately for this august institution, photographic evidence proved that the aircraft had been modified enormously for flight ,then surreptitiously back converted to its original 1903 configuration prior to display. All this was revealed in a paper delivered to the Royal Aeronautical Society in London in October 1921. Thus the Smithsonian's associates had been caught out "fiddling with aviation history".
As a consequence the Wrights loaned the alleged 1903 " Flyer" ( it is largely a hybrid of later machines) to the U.K. Science Museum in London. By 1942 , after negotiation, the Smithsonian bargained back the Flyer from the Wrights' estate post WW2 , but subject to such terms that its hands were effectively tied to supporting the somewhat extravagant claims tied to holding the machine, which returned to the USA at the end of 1948. This unholy covenant was uncovered by the publication of "History By Contract" by Major William J. O'Dwyer,USAFR. in 1978. Among many other stipulations revealed regarding its presence is that the Smithsonian is not permitted to "recognise that any other aeroplane was capable of powered,sustained and controlled flight carrying a man before 17th December 1903."
This stipulation is also extended to:
"any other agency bureau or facilities, administered for the United States of America by the Smithsonian Institution or it's successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date that the Wright aeroplane of 1903 , claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under it's own power in controlled flight."
This revelation of a blatant attempt at dictating nationally terms of Aviation History, by suppressing any alternative view whatsoever is exactly what is, arguably justifiably, been supporting some of the grievances of the Whitehead fraternity .
This situation was , I think, originally the motivation of this thread ,before being hijacked along the road by some silly and irrelevant flights of fantasy.

20th Jun 2015, 21:57
there is more to the history of the wrights, but suffice to say, if the smithsonian didn't want to display the wright machine, they didn't have to.

I imagine there would be hundreds of places willing to honor the wrights.

so many people belittled the wrights including, but not limited to, the entire french press, and langley. Alexander graham bell was no saint either and curtiss was a scoundrel . the french newspapers were happy to call the wrights BLUFFERS (bloufers) until they witnessed for themselves the absolute control of their airplane near le mans and reims. They bent over backward to celebrate them .

so, why shouldn't the wrights want it right? even the US govt insisted a method of paying royalties to the wrights be expedited to allow rapid expansion of aviation esp during WW1.


interesting article about inventions and that US patents are all considered inventions.

yup...for all practical purposes, this should close the discussion, in very much the favor of the Wrights.
I've taken a keen interest in the wrights and really can't stand so many naysayers and history rewriters. The first passenger casualty, Lt Selfridge , lost during an Orville Wright flight graduated from the same high school I did.

21st Jun 2015, 00:38
even the US govt insisted a method of paying royalties to the wrights be expedited to allow rapid expansion of aviation esp during WW1.
Which included Curtiss and other patent holders...


21st Jun 2015, 05:36
This is the particular Wright patent we are concerned with. The preamble (bolding mine),

Be it known that we, ORVILLE WRIGHT and WILBUR WRIGHT, citizens of the United States, residing in the city of Dayton, county of Montgomery, and State of Ohio, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Flying-Machines, of which the following is a specification. Our invention relates to that class of flying machines in which the weight is sustained by the reactions resulting when one or more aeroplanes are moved through the air edgewise at a small angle of incidence, either by the application of mechanical power or by the utilization of the force of gravity. The objects of our invention are to provide means for maintaining or restoring the equilibrium or lateral balance of the apparatus, to provide means for guiding the machine both vertically and horizontally, and to provide a structure combining lightness, strength, convenience of construction, and certain other advantages which will hereinafter appear.

The entire patent is at

Patent No. 821,343 (http://www.wright-brothers.org/History_Wing/Wright_Story/Showing_the_World/Politics_&_Patents/Patent_821343.htm)

Please point out to me where I err, but I don't see them as claiming to have invented the airplane. But then again, I'm not a patent lawyer. I note the patent is titled "Flying Machine", but the preamble cites "new and useful Improvements in Flying-Machines", not the invention of flying machines. To sum up, as I see it, they are claiming means of control and particular elements of construction.

21st Jun 2015, 06:13
Our invention relates to that class of flying machines in which the weight is sustained by the reactions resulting when one or more aeroplanes are moved through the air edgewise at a small angle of incidence, either by the application of mechanical power or by the utilization of the force of gravity.

Indeed megan and also covering improvements to sailplanes (gliders) as well as aeroplanes.

It is aimed across two classes of aerodyne and certainly not a claim for the
invention of one.

joy ride
21st Jun 2015, 07:12
Skyhighfallguy: "I've taken a keen interest in the wrights and really can't stand so many naysayers and history rewriters"

No offence, but the real problem is that you display great ignorance of history outside America, and from before 1903.

You have clearly chosen NOT to read the links which I and others have posted which clearly detail the aeroplane's substantial history and development BEFORE the Wrights.

You have claimed that the Wrights INVENTED the aeroplane and that all its major developments of it were American.

All of us that have tried to enlighten you are now described as naysayers and history re-writers. I am NOT a Nay-sayer of the Wrights, I just want it known that there were many other important people and candidates, and this glorification of the Wrights beyond all others is selective and bad history.

It is YOU who says nay, nay to all non-American, pre 1903 history, and YOU who denies previous history, not us re-writing it !

This forum has members from all over the world and I enjoy the full range of information and discussion this provides. I believe that PPRUNE originated in UK/Europe. I consider the Wrights to be very important figures, but consider it disrespectful and historically wrong that you dismiss all non-American Aviation developments as insignificant


21st Jun 2015, 09:11
Joy ride
Sadly, it never was a discussion in this particular case.
Unfortunately it is pointless to continue engaging with some individuals by offering a structured position based upon reasonably established and accepted information, once it is apparent that their approach is seemingly based upon the strident repetition of an act of faith, despite its being overwhelmingly evidenced as demonstrably untenable.

21st Jun 2015, 14:12
previous HISTORY of aeronautical developments did not accomplish what the wrights did accomplish.

it was the WRIGHTS who figured out how to control a plane and it is still the accepted way of controlling planes today.

when the wrights flew in france, the french admitted they were the masters of the air by the way they could control their plane.

Making drawings, thinking out loud, writing ideas DID NOT INVENT THE PLANE. The wrights even proved that lillienthal's calculations were wrong.

The Wrights got it Right, everyone else is an also ran.

21st Jun 2015, 16:53
it was the WRIGHTS who figured out how to control a plane and it is still the accepted way of controlling planes today.

Sorry to disabuse you of that thought, MPW Boulton in patenting the aileron in 1868 (Wilbur was 1 yo, and Orville wasn't even a gleam in daddys eye) clearly understood what was requred. Some bloke called Manly said of this in 1916;

the system of lateral balancing or control now so universally used; [is] that of supplementary planes, now called ailerons. The description he gave of these in his British patent was thorough and clear. It is the first record we have of appreciation of the necessity for active lateral control as distinguished from the passive lateral equilibrium secured by having wings set at a dihedral angle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dihedral_%28aircraft%29). With this invention of Boulton's we have the birth of the present-day three torque method of airborne control. The only thing then lacking [in 1868] to enable man to learn to operate flying machines was the one great organ – a suitable engine

Of course this may not accord with your world view, but be honest; wing warping really was a dead end.

The Wright boys put together the first practical, controllable, powered aircraft, but they did so on the back of work done by many others, and essentially on having a sufficiently lightweight engine.

21st Jun 2015, 19:36

so sorry that your world view is so anglocentric.

ailerons...lovely, even the courts in the united states said the wrights patent covered any method to change lift on wings indicating the aileron principle.

but it was the WRIGHTS and the WRIGHTS alone who overcame WARP DRAG (which we now call adverse aileron yaw)

IT WAS NOT THE WRIGHT BROTHERS light weight engine that was the breakthrough.

Oh, and because you are in the dark on so many things, NASA is looking at wing warping again with an interesting way of making metal move with out hinges using electricity .

Oh you EUROS! You would do anything to shoot down the wrights.

Tell me, on your pilot's license is there a picture of the guy who invented the aileron? Who is on th e british pilot license anyway?

21st Jun 2015, 21:06
skyhighfallguy where do you get your inferiority complex from?

I had to go back to your post 27 to get a sense of the issue. You challenge people to disagree with, in my view, a rather stupid statement:
And, it does so happen that every major aviation triumph was american. Anyone care to offer another opinion? then fail to consider any other view but your own when you are so clearly wrong.
Shouting (or the internet equivalent) really doesn't work, especially when everyone else sees you as being wrong.

Rarely in science and technology does anybody come up with a totally new idea, invariably these are extensions of research carried out previously; the Wrights combined prior knowledge and got it to work.

BTW GBR licence has no pictures on it, they add nothing of value.

longer ron
21st Jun 2015, 22:50
Skyhifallguy is doing pretty well for a troll ; )

21st Jun 2015, 23:17
Maybe I am a troll. But I think the wrights invented the airplane. And it is not nationalistic pride. Whether you all like it or not, the Wrights flew first, and fully comprehended controlled, powered flight.

all of these europeans, inventing ailerons, gliding experiments that would have left us with body weight shift steering, these people had decades to work on things and they never got it right.

The wrights on the other hand used their own money, maintained a business to support their interest in flying and in four years OR SO managed to build/invent the airplane.

7 cylinder man , you make me laugh, the Wrights discovered how to counteract warp drag and the SAME METHOD is used today in many planes. Coordination of rudder and wing warping WHICH IS THE SAME PRINCIPLE AS AILERONS. Some planes use spoilers instead of ailerons, does this make ailerons obsolete? And as I mentioned, NASA is experimenting with new wing warping.

And that you talk about frise ailerons makes me laugh. I doubt if you could draw a frise aileron, let alone understand it. What did you do, look up adverse aileron yaw, find someone british and copy it down? COME ON

Kitbag adds that pictures add nothing of value. Oh, you mean like putting the Queen on your money?

All I've seen is a pathetic attempt to lessen the impact of the Wrights. Fine, over here we can take things like that. But we smile a knowing smile and shake our heads over those who missed out. We understand that it makes them feel better.

21st Jun 2015, 23:59
Those who support the Whitehead seem to believe that the volume of reprinted rewritten stories which appeared during 1901 about Whitehead flying somehow proves the case.

You might just as well say Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound for the relief of female ailments was a true cure-all since her ads were in almost every issue of every newspaper printed in the US during the last quarter of the 19th century.

In the matter of WIlbur and Orville Wright vs Whitehead, it is also the quality of the evidence that matters. The Wrights produced a stack of contemporaneous diaries, notes and photos documenting every step of their progress - and what did Whitehead do ? He scribbled in aeronautical books that he had stolen from the Buffalo Public Library in 1897... he gave extensive self-promotional quotes to newspaper reporters... he made totally unsubstantiated and for the time patently absurd claims and excuses (such as a circling flight some 7 miles over Long Island Sound in winter) and that his machines couldn't be photographed in flight because they were too speedy, and that he had gone some 4-1/2 miles in a glider in the 1890's...

If this sort of historical novel is your area of interest then Ms. Brinchman's book will be a satisfying read. If, however, you prefer fact to fiction and reality to myth, try Tom Crouch's "The Bishop's Boys."

22nd Jun 2015, 00:22
Skyhifallguy is doing pretty well for a trollHe is, but it's rare to get one of this quality. :E Not since the days of SSG and his subsequent personas. But I think the wrights invented the airplaneYou are entitled to think whatever you like, but an argument needs to be backed with facts, which thus far you have failed in doing. If indeed we accept that the Wrights did invent the aeroplane, the question becomes, "why did they not patent it". All the patent fights were over the use of means of control, not the fact that others were building aeroplanes. Ipso facto, they did not invent the aeroplane. And no one is taking anything away from the Wrights achievements which were magnificent, although their subsequent actions put aeronautical development in the US back many, many years, to the extent US military aviators had to fly foreign aircraft during WW1, and the US industry built British designed aircraft.

22nd Jun 2015, 02:13
I think the requisite elements were in some way known well known, at least identified, decades before the Wrights, before 1903: Lift, propulsion, some form of stability and control. The problem was less in identifying these, and more finding practical solutions. The mechanically-experienced Wrights applied their knowledge of lightweight bicycle structures to solve the problems.

But they did more: They saw the deficiencies in their competitors' designs, and studied and experimented to overcome those problems. Experimentation yielded efficient airfoil designs, not only of wings, but of propellers as well.

And so by the time they had settled on a physical design of the Flyer, the challenge was to fly it. They had prepared for this by flying a series of gliders. Here they learned the need for three-axis control.

So the Wrights contribution was not so much a single invention, but in perfecting the combination of known arts to create a working vehicle.

22nd Jun 2015, 02:40

why didn't they patent the airplane? because their attorney, one of the finest patent attorneys of the time, told them the best way to protect their invention. It was a legal decision.

AS to the wrights slowing things down in the US, after the patent wars were won, things took off just fine.

And while it is true that in World War 1 our air service was not up to the european standards and we did fly Spads and other planes, we caught up quickly. WAR moves things along quickly and World War 1 had been going for quite awhile before we came in. We tried to stay out of that war.

And then of course ever since then, our planes have been the best. The first plane to fly from North America to Europe was a US plane in 1919.

And simply so many other accomplishments that it would take too long to list. But should I try?

For all practical purposes, the wrights invented the airplane. But that only is true if you mean an airplane that really worked, flew and was controllable. others were also rans. just because something had wings and a prop didn't make it a real airplane. I've seen airplanes with wings and a prop hung from a carnival ride, really what plane was even close to the wrights in 1903 and in the years just after that? There were planes that staggered into the air and slipped around turns with rudders. Or other planes with ailerons that turned terribly because those designers didn't understand what the Wrights understood.

Those "in the know" know the wrights invented the airplane. They have been honored in many ways including a newly planned movie to be made about them.

When TWA got their first constellation airliners , howard hughes went to Dayton, Ohio and took Orville for a ride OUT OF RESPECT for the contribution the wrights made.

I really don't care what the eurocentric defenders think. Their rationale is less than truthful. But they only fool themselves.

Just think of all the movies about cacey, santos dumont, bleriot, curtiss, or langley. Just think about all of the statues and honors to these people that didn't quite figure it out.

So dear euros, go rent, "those magnificent men in their flying machines" and dream of what might have been.

Harley Quinn
22nd Jun 2015, 06:37
Nobody mention Alcock & Brown, Kohl, Sputnik or Gagarin or even von Braun, we'll cause the old troll to have a fit.

why didn't they patent the airplane? because their attorney, one of the finest patent attorneys of the time, told them the best way to protect their invention. It was a legal decision. and the correct one of course, because it would have failed on every level.

Best to remember that Hollywood is entertainment, not historical fact.

22nd Jun 2015, 07:04
The first plane to fly from North America to Europe was a US plane in 1919Yes they did, by puddle jumping across the Atlantic using a string of ships as navigational aids and took eleven days.


Just over two weeks after them, two British lads managed the feat by going non stop. Which was the greater effort? An effort by a group with the where with all of an entire nation behind them via the military, or two individuals employed by an aircraft manufacturer?

Stop the willy waving, all contributed in their own way.

Lets say we change the subject as to who was first in space, or the first supersonic transport, or who was first across the Pacific. ;)

22nd Jun 2015, 07:38
A more prospective topic is suggested by Megan:
And no one is taking anything away from the Wrights achievements which were magnificent, although their subsequent actions put aeronautical development in the US back many, many years, to the extent US military aviators had to fly foreign aircraft during WW1, and the US industry built British designed aircraft.

For my money, the Wrights were the first to combine an adequate motor with an adequate (just) system of control, as the result of a proper research and development programme, and so get priority, if it has to be apportioned. But it is surprising that aviation didn't proceed much faster in the USA than it did. The little I know suggests that Curtiss was the big mover; he actually produced an aircraft that was used in WW I (by the US and the RNAS), and one that might have managed an Atlantic crossing non-stop.

Can we tell how much the slower progress in the US was due to the commercially minded Wrights waging a patent war, compared to a "Watch me, mes amis" attitude of the Europeans? There are, perhaps, even implications for IP law, in which the US has always been idiosyncratic, and often wrong.

joy ride
22nd Jun 2015, 08:09
As dear old Frank Zappa once said, “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.”

Excellent quote, very apt.

Time to listen to some more Zappa too, cheers 7-cylinder man!

22nd Jun 2015, 08:18
Those who have the stamina might like to refer back to the long running thread on this forum:

Many of the points about( and defending ) the Wrights against their American ( i.e. Alaskan) based detractor were from Europe ( myself included) and other sites around the world.

In all this there was one demonstrably ignorant and pathetically xenophobic troll ( glendalegoon)whose offensive, irrational and finally unacceptably ad hominem remarks became so ridiculous that he was banned by the mods from the forum.
We now have a remarkable coincidence dear readers , that shows that it really is a small world.
In his post #200 on that thread glendalegoon informed us that :
By the way. I am greatly interested in the Wrights for may reasons, most should be obvious. But one reason is that the first man killed in a flight with the Wrights was a graduate of the same high school that I graduated from.

Now we have the recently joined member skyhighfallguy in his post #73 on this thread who also tells us that:

I've taken a keen interest in the wrights and really can't stand so many naysayers and history rewriters. The first passenger casualty, Lt Selfridge , lost during an Orville Wright flight graduated from the same high school I did.

I wonder if they know each other? .........:)

joy ride
22nd Jun 2015, 08:57
Bravo Haraka!

22nd Jun 2015, 09:48
Those who have the stamina might like to refer back to the long running thread on this forum..Ah c'mon Haraka, that thread was fun! :) What did we get in the end - something like 30,000 views?

22nd Jun 2015, 14:06
Hi Noyade,
Yes the thread was good for a long while, until it became obvious that the Pro- Voisin O.P. didn't really have much of substance to support his allegations and then the discussion just wallowed. I think what must have been the final straw for the mods was when a rather nasty and unjustified attack was launched on Tom Crouch, which could have headed in a direction towards possible legal consequences.
On the Tom Crouch side, I see we have carrolfgray ( presumably the same from huffington scientific) joining us.
If you have the time Carrol, in addition to the current, you might like to plow through the rest of this old thread :


Hopefully you will see that most ppruners on this forum are capable of reasoned, constructive and convivial debate.

joy ride
22nd Jun 2015, 16:13
Bobby Brown seems fairly apt!

Roxy and Elsewhere, Overnight Sensation and the Black Page awaiting my attention at the weekend.

Genghis the Engineer
22nd Jun 2015, 21:38
Lets say we change the subject as to who was first in space, or the first supersonic transport, or who was first across the Pacific.

You could throw in east-to-west across the Atlantic.

The now banned troll has clearly spent far too much time in the Smithsonian, where American aeronautical firsts are trumpeted to the exclusion of the rest of the world. I can never understand the mentality, the USA has achieved amazing things in aeronautics, and are clearly in a world leading position - but this seems to lead many to deny that the rest of the world has ever achieved anything.

A few (okay, 15) years ago, I was at an SETP symposium in Regensberg where we had a paper from a German TP, I think probably Horst Phillip, who presented attempts to build and fly a replica of the Whitehead aircraft. I may have his paper tucked away in a drawer somewhere, but from memory the basic conclusion was that it was a horrible flying machine, but was capable of controlled powered flights for short periods - not unlike the Wrights.

Personally I think that the Wrights got lucky with a set of dead-end design solutions, Whitehead probably managed a short unimpressive hop not worthy of the history books as he didn't then develop it, and the various Brits in 1908 were only doing marginally better.

For my money, the aeroplane as we now recognise it was invented by Louis Bleriot circa 1908 - the Bleriot VIII is substantially the form of most modern aeroplanes, which he reached after a lot of serious research experimentation, and continued with afterwards with the very impressive Bleriot XI that crossed the English Channel.


24th Jun 2015, 23:15
At risk of giving this hornet's nest another stir, does anyone know if a true flying replica of the Wrights' 1903 Flyer (including a working replica of the engine they used) has ever been built and proven to fly in anything other than a extended glide?

25th Jun 2015, 01:35
The answer is yes. See here http://wright.nasa.gov/replica/rep1905.html

The replica flying. I know flights of 30 minutes were made, and the pilot was subsequently seriously injured in a crash which sounded very much as if the pitch sensitivity introduced a PIO.


Should you wonder about the comment re sensitivity in pitch, see here and you may understand why.


A replica engine running


25th Jun 2015, 02:17
true flying replica of the Wrights' 1903 FlyerG'day Megan. Yours shows a 1905 replica. Dunno if this is a "true flying replica", but here's a 1903 replica...


I'm sure our Alaskan friend is somewhere it that comment section.
Wherever you may be "Simplex" - thanks for the fun and yeah, that looks like a powered glide to me. :)

25th Jun 2015, 10:16
Has anybody got any details of the machine or results regarding the 100th anniversary celebratory attempt with the USAF Lady Pilot ( IIRC) ?
I gather there were some problems regarding weather etc.

25th Jun 2015, 11:39
Megan, thank you for posting those videos. The impression I get is that it would take a lot of dedication and just the right conditions to replicate the 1903 flight for the following reasons:

The Wright brothers had been flying their gliders for four years and were ready for the lack of pitch stability by the time they flew the powered machine.
With the wind at Kill Devil Hill the Flyer was already flying (supported by the air) before it started moving on its rail, so acceleration to flying speed was not necessary for lift or control, only positive pitch on the canard.
The gusty conditions permitted maximum use to be made of the gusts and wind gradient, so adding energy to the aircraft (as dynamic soaring does).

Carrol F Grey considers that the first true flight was the fifth attempt on 17 December 1903, and I am inclined to agree with him. The rest were little more than wind gradient assisted pitch up and glides with the power doing little more than preventing the Flyer being blown backwards. The 59 second flight was the only one of sufficient duration to exceed the benefits of the wind assisted start.

The FIVE FIRST FLIGHTS (http://www.thewrightbrothers.org/fivefirstflights.html)


26th Jun 2015, 00:59
Yours shows a 1905 replicaNoyade, I must confess I skipped over the 1903 Flyer because it was not a practical aircraft, in as much, much development work was still to be done, particularly with the ability to make turns, a full turn being first achieved by Wilbur on the 20th September 1904. The following may give some insight as to the issues the Brothers still had to overcome following their 1903 success.


The following deals specifically with the 1903 model.

http://authors.library.caltech.edu/21217/1/CULaiaawfp84.pdfHas anybody got any details of the machine or results regarding the 100th anniversary celebratory attempt with the USAF Lady PilotThis one Haraka?


Forgot to add this of the 1903 replica.


26th Jun 2015, 09:08
Just watched the Pathe film of the "first flight" - as I wrote in an earlier post, the aircraft was helped off the ground by energy from a falling weight, and seemed to spend a lot of the flight in "ground effect", but nevertheless an epic achievement- I will stand by for the "incoming"!!

26th Jun 2015, 11:19
Many thanks indeed for the references megan. I found it interesting to read the 1903 replica/sim paper and compare it to the Carrol F Grey paper kindly referenced by Mechta ( I also go along with his reasoning)

Wander00, may I suggest that you might also find that these two papers provide informative reading?

26th Jun 2015, 15:18
Aah, thanks - but I am still unclear whether or not there was a "falling weight" mechanism for the first flight, or am I remembering seeing the later film in my childhood (a long time ago)

longer ron
26th Jun 2015, 15:51
Wanderoo - the Wrights started using the weight when they moved to Huffman prairie.they did not use them for the 1903 flights !

rgds LR

26th Jun 2015, 16:21
LR - appreciated. Thanks. W

28th Jun 2015, 11:06
With reference to the attempted 2003 reenactment of the Dec 17th 1903 event.
It would appear that the aircraft was indeed the Wright Experience's 1903 replica air-frame and engine pointed out by megan.
It was quite a rainy day at Kitty Hawk on Dec 17th 2003 so the replica's flight demonstration was somewhat delayed.
If I may quote the witness account of the Editor of " Aeroplane" ,writing in the March 2004 issue p.p.26

"In the end the the weather improves marginally and the Flyer is wheeled out, but there is insufficient wind or engine power for more than a flop off the end of the launch rail. The day long event rather falls apart after this....."

Genghis the Engineer
30th Jun 2015, 17:49

The society says "no" !


30th Jun 2015, 18:40
I think that this RAeS group is being fair.
NB. "This Paper represents the views of the Historical Group of
the Royal Aeronautical Society. It has not been discussed
outside the Learned Society Board and, as such, it does not
necessarily represent the views of the Society as a whole,
or any other Specialist Group or Committee.
Royal Aeronautical Society copyright."
(Please bear in mind that neither the apparent author of this paper, nor of his references ( e.g. Charles Gibbs Smith ) IIRC appear to have any recognized formal background or qualification whatsoever in aerodynamics, aviation engineering or pilotage)
The contributions toward aviation development have to be weighed against so called "achievements".
We may ( I hope) continue to debate the impact of the Wrights' work in their contribution toward the ongoing development of the aeroplane.
What is not in dispute ( I think ) is that the Wrights undeniably assisted in this process regarding , for example, developing and demonstrating 3 axis control practicability to a wide audience.
Unfortunately none of Whitehead's work can be seen to have demonstrated any input whatsoever toward the development of a practicable aeroplane.

30th Jun 2015, 18:59
Joyride, you may need to add Ukita Kokichi to your list...



Genghis the Engineer
30th Jun 2015, 21:12
Unfortunately none of Whitehead's work can be seen to have demonstrated any input whatsoever toward the development of a practicable aeroplane.

That is, I think, at the root of it.

If somebody's achievements are to count, then they need to have done what they did in a manner which allows other people to build upon it.

Even the Wrights with their obsessive attempts to protect their intellectual property did publish what they'd done and do things in a way that allowed other people to build upon their efforts - and as such deserve a lot of credit for that.

Incidentally, noting the RAeS disclaimer - the society is generally pretty rigorous about such things. I've published two papers in their Journal of Aeronautical History and the refereeing was rigorous and thorough; technical papers I've published in Aeronautical Journal equally so.


3rd Jul 2015, 00:15
The Frize aileron is common, every pilot knows of them and they have been used on most airplanes for many years, including the DC3 and the Cessna 172.

3rd Jul 2015, 07:27
Without wishing to contribute to further the thread drift initiated by the booted troll, the aileron drag problem was largely overcome by Arthur Hagg in the form of differential ailerons , first used on the De Havilland D.H. 29 Doncaster of 1921. This aircraft was a cantilever monoplane long range transport .
Patent 184,317, of 13 June 1921 in his name, described a simple acute-angle bell-crank arrangement "so that for a given movement of the pilot's control lever the upwardly moving aileron is displaced through a greater angle than the downwardly moving aileron".
This resulted in the drag of the upturned aileron outweighing the other and assisting , instead of counteracting the turn as had been the inherent lateral secondary effect control problem ( warping and ailerons) from the Wrights onward.
Leslie Frise very soon after in patent 194,753 added his ingenious aileron design , which is still widely used, often in association with Hagg's contribution.
(In point of fact Frederick Handley Page had already patented the slotted aileron which also well counteracted aileron drag, but this wasn't taken up with such alacrity initially.)

joy ride
3rd Jul 2015, 08:14
Thread drift or not, I think a good understanding of the various innovative steps in aviation's development is useful and interesting, regardless of who or what nation begat them.

4th Jul 2015, 00:35
Silly little things amuse at times. Like kittens and children.

I own a small experimental airplane and it has ailerons that only go down, yet I get very little adverse yaw.

7th Jul 2015, 12:42
Rather than post a multitude of links I thought I'd post it in its entirety. From "Flight" FEBRUARY 13, 1909


Otto Lilenthal, that gifted martyr of the air, tells us that in flying machines conception is nothing, construction is little, experiment is everything.

The year of 1908 will be memorable in aeronautical science for its demonstration of the possibility of mechanical flight. Day after day in France and America has been seen the spectacle of men, not holding in their hands an elaborate plan, not standing by some huge winged machine, but flying in the air with a grace equal to the soaring bird. This has been done with a machine not raised by the buoyancy of a gas, but with one that is heavier than the medium in which it travels, and whose sustentation and direction is accomplished by dexterity and skill.

It is, however, not without honour to the British nation, that one of the fundamental principles of the recent experiments was proposed and elucidated by a Briton in 1866. I refer to the important principle of superposed surfaces, advanced in that year by the late F. H. Wenham. He pointed out that the large mono surfaces necessary to carry a man are difficult of control, but that the lifting power of such a surface can be obtained by placing a number of small surfaces above each other. Wenham built flying machines on this principle, with appliances for the use of his own muscular power. He obtained valuable results as to the driving power of his superposed surfaces, but he did not accomplish flight.

It was in 1872 that H. von Helmholtz emphasised the improbability that man would ever be able to drive a flying machine with his own muscular exertions. After his statements there came a period of stagnation in aeronautical research. An all important link was then wanting ; this was the light motor.

It is difficult to say how much aeronautical science owes to two illustrious names—Sir Hiram Maxim and the late 1'rofessor Langley. These two eminent men took up the subject of flight about the same time in the last decade of the last century, and applied to it all scientific knowledge of the time. Sir Hiram Maxim built the largest flying machine that has been constructed. It spread 4,000 sq. ft. of supporting surface, and weighed 8,000 lbs. The screw propellers were no less than 17 ft. in diameter, the width of the blades at the tip being 5 ft. The boiler was 363 h.p. The machine was run upon wheels on a railway line. It was restrained from premature flight by two wooden rails placed on each side above the wheels. But on one occasion the tendency to rise proved too strong for these measures of restraint. The machine burst through the wooden rails and flew for 300 ft. But Sir Hiram Maxim was not ready at that moment to fly further. When the machine took flight steam was shut off, the machine alighted and was damaged in the fall. The wisdom of Sir Hiram Maxim in not allowing the machine to take free flights was most commendable, for at that time the problem of the maintenance of equilibrium and stability was quite unsolved. But what could not be dared with a gigantic machine carrying human passengers, could be dared with an unmanned model. In 1896 Langley's tandem-surfaced model aerodrome had luck with the aerial currents, and flew for more than three-quarters of a mile over the Potomac River. This machine had 70 sq. ft. supporting surface, weighed 72 lbs., and had an engine of one-horse power, weighing 7 lbs. It is well known how in later years, Langley exaggerated his model into a machine which carried a man, and how twice when it was about to be put to the test over water, at the very moment of being launched, it caught in the launching ways and was pulled into the water. It is supposed that grief at not being able to put his work to a practical test hastened his death. But it is doubtful whether Langley's man-lifting aerodrome would have kept its balance had it escaped the clutches of the launching apparatus.

In the light of recent experiments it has been seen that the maintenance of equlibrium and stability demands special contrivances. It was the question of equilibrium which first led Lilienthal in Germany to experiment with what are called gliding machines. These are aeroplanes which are launched from some hillside against the wind, and depend upon gravity for their motive power. In this way the art of balancing can be practised on motor less gliders. With Lilienthal commenced the age of systematic experimental flight. It was Lilienthal who made the great discovery of the driving forward of arched surfaces against the wind. Lilienthal made some 2,000 glides. Sometimes from a height of 30 metres he glided 300 metres.

The underlying principle of maintaining equilibrium in the air has been recognised to be that the centre of pressure should at all times be on the same vertical line as the centre of gravity due to the weight of the apparatus. Lilienthal sought to keep his balance by altering the position of his centre of gravity by movements of his body. But one day he was upset by a side gust and was killed. Pilcher, in England, took up his epoch-making work. With his soaring machines he made some hundred glides, but he also made one too many. One day, in 1899, in attempting to soar from level ground by being towed by horses, his machine broke, and he fell to the ground. He died shortly afterwards, and became a British martyr of the air. It is sad to relate these successive tragedies, but recent accomplishment has fully justified the actions of those who gave their lives for the sake of knowledge and progress.
The experiments of Mr. Octave Chanute, from 1896-1902, form important links in experimental flight. He first introduced the vital principle of making surfaces movable instead of the aviator, and he made use of superposed surfaces. Mr. Chanute had made an exhaustive study of the subject of aerial navigation, evidenced in his book '"Progress in Flying Machines." He estimated aright the value of the researches of Wenham, whose original memoir on superposed surfaces he has described as " classical." He did not hesitate to adopt the principles advocated by Wenham in his own practical machines. He thus afforded an example of the expediency of studying the past as well as the present. As the earth contains hidden treasures unexcavated for centuries, but which from their intrinsic beauty eclipse the decadent specimens of modern handicraft, so, too, the annals of science contain hidden treasures—indispensable principles, which after years of oblivion have to be unearthed into the light of day.

In his multiple-winged machine Mr. Chanute fixed the wings on pivots. They retro-acted and swung horizontally so as to bring the centre of pressure to coincide with a vertical line passing through the centre of gravity. After making 300 glides with this he made a double-decked machine. It consisted of a rectangular bridge truss of wood, braced by steel wires, and carrying aerocurve surfaces arched j^th on the top and bottom booms. An important feature was the rudder in the rear ; it was attached to the machine by an elastic arrangement. The upper and lower surfaces of this rudder were acted upon by the wind gusts, and altered the angle of incidence of the main supporting surfaces. Seven hundred glides were made by Mr. Chanute's assistants with this machine without any accident. In 1902 Mr Chanute devised a triple-decked machine, and in this the surfaces were pivoted to rock, fore and aft, on a stationary pivot.

The work of Mr. Chanute represents important stages in the evolution of the flying machine, but it was reserved to two other geniuses to bring human flight to a point of progress where the prejudicial critic would be for ever silenced. These two geniuses were the Brothers Wright. I will, therefore, speak of their work, beginning with their earliest experiments.

Before essaying practical flight, the Brothers Wright carried out laboratory experiments. It was in 1900 that they first began to experiment with gliding machines at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. With the comparatively small surfaces (15*3 square metres) they used in that year, they endeavoured to raise the machine by the wind like a kite, but finding that it often blew too strongly for such a system to be practical, in 1901 they abandoned the idea and resorted to gliding flight.

These machines of 1901 had two superposed surfaces, 173 metres apart, each being 67 metres from tip to tip, 2"i3 metres wide, and arched I-I9th. The total supporting surface was 27 square metres. They dispensed with the tail which previous experimenters had considered necessary. Instead they introduced into their machine two vital principles, upon which not only the success of their preliminary gliding experiments has depended, but also their recent ones with their motor-driven aeroplanes. 1. The hinged horizontal rudder in front for controlling the vertical movements of the machine. 2. The warping or flexing of one wing or the other for steering to right or left. Later a vertical rudder was also added for horizontal steering. The combined movements of these devices maintained equilibrium. The importance of the system of torsion of the main carrying surfaces cannot well be over-estimated. We have only to look to nature for its raison d'etre. An instantaneous photograph of a flight of seagulls shows how varied are the flexings of Nature's aeroplanes in their wondrous manoeuvrings to maintain and recover equilibrium.

In the earliest machines of the Brothers Wright the flexing was attained by light strings held in the hands of the operator. In their recent machines a lever controls this as other accessory movements. The frame of the 1901 machine was of spruce wood and steel. With this machine about 100 glides were made from sand mounds, known as the Kill Devil Hills, at angles of 9 degrees to 10 degrees. A feature of those early experiments was the placing of the operator prone upon the gliding machine instead of in an upright position, to secure greater safety in alighting, and to diminish the resistance. This, however, was only a temporary expedient while the Wrights were feeling their way. In the motor-driven aeroplanes the navigator and his companion are comfortably seated. After the experiments of 1901, the Wrights carried on laboratory researches to determine the amount and direction of the pressures produced by the wind upon planes and arched surfaces exposed at various angles of incidence. They discovered that the tables of the air pressures which had been in use were incorrect. Upon the results of these experiments they produced in 1902 a new and larger machine. This had 28*44 square metres of sustaining surfaces. Thus they showed they had attained to the use of surfaces of twice the area that previous experimenters had dared to handle.

An insight into the cautious and scientific methods by which the Wrights have reached their ultimate success is afforded by the tests which this new machine underwent before gliding flight was undertaken with it. The machine was first flown as a kite so that it might be ascertained whether it would soar in a wind having an upward trend of a trifle over 7 degrees. This was the slope of a hill over which the current was flowing. An experiment showed . that the machine would soar under these circumstances whenever the wind was of sufficient force to keep the angle of incidence : between 4 and 8 degrees. Hundreds of successful glides were afterwards made along the full length of this slope, the longest being: 22^ feet and the time 26 sees. Glides were made at angles of \descent of 6 degrees to 7 degrees, and the glider supported 66 kilogs. per horse-power.

The next step was to apply a motor and screw propellers in place of gravity. This was done in 1903, when four flights were made, the first lasting 12 sees., the last 59 sees., when 260 metres were covered at a height of 2 metres.

In 1904, several hundred flights were made, some being circular. All this work was carried on in a secluded spot and unpublished.

In December, 1905, the world was startled by the news that the Brothers Wright had flown for 24J miles in half an hour at a speed of 38 miles an hour. Much more than this at the time the brothers would not say, and for three years the world thirsted for the fuller knowledge only this year revealed. In the interval some went so far as to distrust the statements of the Brothers Wright, but those who, like myself, had had the privilege of correspondence with them from their first experiments, felt the fullest confidence that every statement they had made was fact. This summer at Le Mans, in France, and Fort Myers, in America, Mr. Wilbur Wright and Mr. Orville Wright have demonstrated to the world the veracity of their former statements. At Le Mans, Mr. Wilbur Wright won the world's record of flight—ih. 31m. 25fs. This event was only two days after the news had arrived of the accident to his brother's machine 'in America in which Mr. Orville Wright broke his leg and Lieut. Selfridge was killed. This accident, of necessity, caused a temporary depression. I can myself bear witness as to its momentary depressive effect on an illustrious aeronautical assemblage. Had there not been the brother at Le Mans to vindicate the good character of the Wright machine, the disaster might have been, another of those blows which retard progress. The accomplishment of Mr. Wilbur Wright's great feat at a time when his nerves must have received a severe shock was an example of the competency of the two geniuses who, of all aviators, have most forwarded aerial navigation.
In Wilbur Wright's machine at Le Mans, the two superposed slightly concave surfaces are about 12*50 metres long and 2 metres wide. They are separated by a distance of i"8o metres. At a distance of 3 metres from the main supporting surfaces is the horizontal rudder for controlling the vertical motions. This is composed of two oval superposed planes. At 2 "50 metres in front of the main supporting surfaces is the vertical rudder, composed of two vertical planes.

The 25-h.p. motor is placed on the lower aero-surface. This weighs 90 kilogs. There is no carburettor, the petrol being injected into airlet pipes. At the left of this motor are the two seats, side by side, for the operator and his companion.

The transmission of power to the two propeller-shafts is effected by chains running in guide tubes. The left-hand chain is crossed, ~to give the opposite movement to the propellers. The two wooden propellers at the back of the machine are 2-50 metres in diameter. They have a low rate of revolution—450 revolutions per minute. Perhaps the weakest part of the Wright machine is the material of the propellers—this is wood. To this fact would appear to be due the fatal accident to Mr. Orville Wright's machine in America. As -is well known, Mr. Orville Wright had extended the length of those" propellers. In rotating, one of them struck against a wire, hanging loosely, and was bioken. Had the propeller been made of suitable metal, it would not, probably, have been broken by the impact.

THE area of the sustaining surfaces is 50 square metres. The weight of the whole machine (with aviator) is about 450 kilogs. Levers under the control of the aviator regulate the various functions of the machine, the flexing of the carrying surfaces, the movements of the horizontal rudders, the vertical rudder, &c.

For starting, the machine runs on rollers along a single wooden rail, but when there is no wind the catapult apparatus has often been used. This consists of a skeleton pylon stand ; at the top of this there is a weight attached to a cord passing through a pulley. The free end of the cord is passed through a pulley at the remote end of the line and brought back and attached to the car by a patent catch. When the weight is allowed to fall the machine is shot forward with starting impetus, enabling the flight to commence. The weight is 700 kilogs., and it falls 5 metres.

While the world was waiting for the details of the Wrights' machine, another type of aeroplane machine came into existence in France, which may be described as an unbending type, and which is devoid of the vital principle of movable main surfaces, which would appear to give the Wright machine a great margin of safety in windy weather. The first of these machines was the bird of prey of M. Santos Dumont. Rudely simple was it in its construction. Two box kites for the supporting surface. In the centre is the motor with the screw behind. To attain flight the machine is run upon wheels until a certain speed is attained, when the machine takes flight. Mr. Farman's machine is another example of a machine that does not bend its wings to adapt itself to circumstances, but still we are bound to confess that the feats which Mr. Farman has managed to perform with his machine, which many critics will say is a less perfect type than that of the Brothers Wright, are very much to his credit. Our national sympathies have been very much with Mr. Farman in his experiments, for though they have taken place in France, the experimenter is of British descent.

Amongst the more recent feats of Mr. Farman may be mentioned his town to town journey from Chalons to Rheims. Another example of the same school is M. Delagrange's aeroplane, and this has accomplished no unworthy flights. In fact, at one time, this last summer, M. Delagrange held the officially observed record for duration of flight, 29m. 53$s., until this was greatly surpassed by Mr. Orville Wright.

In practical aeroplane travelling there will be two great difficulties to be overcome, one, starting ; two, stopping in the air. As has been mentioned above, there are at the present time two methods of starting employed, that of the Brothers Wright, who use starting appliances that are independent of the machine, the other that of the French school, who use wheels which are part of the machine itself. There are disadvantages with either method. It would be hardly practical to carry a huge starting catapult, or even rails, on an aeroplane, and the system of running on the ground on wheels to start would not be practicable in a ploughed field, while the speed required would be prohibited on a public road. For this reason, some think that the heliocoptere, or lifting screw flying machine, will have advantages over the aeroplane, as the lifting horizontal screws will enable it to rise from any place at any time, and also endow it with the power of stopping horizontal motion without descending.

Possibly the future flying machine will consist in the combination of the aeroplane and lifting screw systems. In the way of safety there will be undoubtedly an advantage in retaining the aeroplane surface in case of falls, even though it may not be adjusted to support a certain weight., like a parachute. In the case of Mr. Orville Wright's accident, the spread of canvas to some extent retarded the fall. In the opinion of Mr. Orville Wright, had the accident happened higher up in the air he would have been able to right the machine, and glide safely to earth with it.

Concerning the fall of an aeroplane through accident, such as the collapse of a motor, or even the gliding down purposely without motor action when near to ground, I would like to make a suggestion. If arrangements could be devised to suddenly make the sustaining surfaces convex when about to descend, a safe descent would probably be much facilitated. When I take a flat strip of paper and let it fall, in the majority of cases it will fall revolving rapidly, a fact first pointed out by Maxwell and afterwards commented upon by Lord Rayleigh as a fact that has not been completely explained. But if I curve up the ends of this strip very slightly, the strip generally falls to the floor without turning over. If I let the strip fall ten times in succession, it will probably maintain its stability throughout the test. This is, I think, an experiment worth a practical test.

While on the question of means of securing safety, in may perhaps be suggested that in experimental flights it would be advisable if the operator and his companions provided themselves with parachutes, which probably in the future will come to be regarded as the lifebuoys of flying machines. It would be possible for parachutes to be so suspended that the weight of the aviators suddenly thrown on to them would release them. Probably the best form of parachute will be found to be one with a rotary fall, a principle that has yet to be worked out. The sycamore seed in falling affords an example of a rotarv parachute.

There are some who say that the experiments of the Brothers Wright show that the conquest of the air is complete. But those who speak thus grasp not the situation. It is true that the Brothers Wright have, this year, shown that mechanical flight is possible in a calm atmosphere, and in slight breezes, and this is in itself a triumph. But before we can say man has mastered the great problem of flight, he must fly not only in tranquil airs and slight breezes, but against strong winds and treacherous gusts. Then only will he have wrested from the sea-gulls their long-guarded secret, when, like them, he can use the swift moving air currents to aid his flight. When the aeroplane has encountered the storm, and sailed in its midst undisturbed, and come back sale to port, then, and then only, can he say that, for everyday practical use, the aeroplane has come.

There will, too, be much to be learnt concerning the tricks and ways of aerial currents, even in more tranquil airs. The following simple experiment may suggest how the balance of an aeroplane may be unexpectedly upset by an uprising current of air.

When the wind blows against a cliff or steep hill there is produced an upward current of air. Now imagine an aeroplane comfortably travelling and maintaining its equilibrium and stability. When it reaches the region of the cliff and the sudden uprising current, there will be a great chance of its equilibrium or stability being upset.

In view of the possibility of man acquiring, like soaring birds, the power of making use of the vertical component of the wind, the internal work of the wind, i.e., its gustiness, and even the non uniformity of wind, i.e., its different velocities at different levels, it would seem important that every light that can be thrown upon the difficult subject of equilibrium and stability, experimentally and mathematically, should be eagerly sought. In connection with the subject of " longitudinal stability," I should like to call special attention to the remarkable researches of Professor G. H. Bryan and Mr. W. E. Williams.

In the course of a few remarks on gliding flight which Professor Bryan made in the course of a Friday evening discourse at the Royal Institution in 1901, it seemed to me evident that he had a greater grasp of the mathematical side of the problem of aerial navigation than had been previously evidenced, and, at my request, he wrote the remarkable mathematical discourse on the subject which was read before the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain on December 3rd, 1903.

The remarks of Professor Bryan as to the distinction between equilibrium and stability—a distinction not very generally appreciated— may perhaps with advantage be here quoted :—

" We say that the motion of a flying machine is steady when the resultant velocity is constant in direction and magnitude, and when the angle of the machine to the horizontal is constant. If this motion is slightly disturbed, the machine may either return after a time to the original motion, or it may take up a new and altogether different mode of motion. In the first case, the steady motion is said to be stable, and the second unstable.

" I t is evidently necessary for steady motion of any kind that there should be equilibrium—i.e., that there should be no forces acting on the machine (apart from accidental disturbances) which tend to vary the motion, and hence it follows that the number of modes of steady motion of which a mrchine is capable is, in general, limited, and that when an unstable, steady motion is disturbed, the new mode of motion taken up is entirely different from the old.

" It is necessary to distinguish carefully between equilibrium and stability, as the two are very often confused together. Equilibrium is necessary to secure the existence of a mode of steady motion, but is not sufficient to ensure the stability of the motion.

" The question of the stability of a rigid body moving under the action of any forces has been solved by Routh. In order to apply his results to the stability of flying machines, it is necessary to know the moment of inertia of the machine about its centre of gravity, the resistance of the air on the supporting surfaces as a function of the velocity and angle of incidence, and also the point of application of this force, i.e., the centre of pressure for different angles of incidence. If these are known for the surfaces constituting any machine, then the problem of its stability for small oscillations can be completely solved. Unfortunately, our knowledge of these points is very unsatisfactory. Several valuable series of experiments have been made to determine the resistance on planes, but there is still some doubt as to the position of the centre of pressure at small angles of incidence, especially for oblong planes, and very little indeed is known as to the movement of the centre of pressure on concave surfaces. Until experiments are made on this point it will be impossible to solve the problem of stability for machines supported on concave surfaces."

The last words of Professor Bryan emphasise the necessity of laboratory research, as well as continuing cur experiments in the open. Regarding experiments as to the movement of the centre of pressure on concave surfaces, it may be hoped that when the Brothers Wright publish the full results of their own laboratory researches, light on this subject will be forthcoming.

The photographs of the paths of aerial gliders taken by Professor Bryan and Mr. W. E. Williams are suggestive of the utility of further photographic research on a larger scale. These photographs were taken by attaching magnesium wire to small gliders, consisting of square planes and pairs of square planes, and allowing them to descend in front of a camera in a dark room with the wire burning. By placing a rotating wheel in front of the camera, a dotted instead of a continuous track was obtained, enabling the velocities at different points to be compared. When the path is nearly straight two sets of oscillations are observed. If either of these oscillations increases as the glider descends, the glider will be longitudinally unstable.
With regard to the equilibrium and stability problem, we have not yet got quite beyond the utility of observations with gliding models in the open. There is much yet that might be learnt as to the behaviour of various forms of sustaining surfaces. An instance of very successful and instructive glides (with models) was afforded on the occasion of the kite display, at Sunningdale, in 1907, the experimenter being Mr. Jose Weiss. His demonstration of the possibility of the maintenance of balance for a considerable distance, with a model launched from a hill-top, was one that should encourage himself and others in further research into the difficult problems of soaring flight. He exhibited three model gliders, having wing areas of 3-6, 8'4, and 12'8 sq. ft., with total weights of i\ lbs. and 15 lbs. respectively, the lead ballast in each case representing about two-thirds of the total weight. When launched from the highest hillock available the best glides obtained were some 200 yards in length, with drops from 30 to 50 ft. The small model, raised some 200 ft. by a large kite, and released from that height, righted itself instantly in each case, and gave some very fine glides, the longest being about 600 yards. Some further comparative tests of this description might prove useful. Professor Bryan has suggested that model flying machines might advantageously be fitted with instruments to register stability.

7th Jul 2015, 12:42
In connection with aerial navigation, a line of research, the importance of which cannot well be overestimated, are those investigations which deal with the motions of the medium of travel. Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of Dr. William Napier Shaw, the investigation of the upper air is forming a feature of the work of the Meteorological Office, and most important results have been obtained. Such investigations are all essential for the progress of meteorology ; but they are equally important for the advance of aerial navigation, and their continuance and extension is worthy of the heartiest national support.

It has been said that the ideal flying machine will be attained by a system of automatic stability. Since Mr. Brennan showed how a train could travel on a mono-rail and keep its stability by the application of the gyroscope, a new hope has arisen that the gyroscopic principle may be so applied to flying machines as to render them automatically stable. Simple experiments with the ordinary gyroscopic top shows us that rotary motion can annul the effects of forces other than gravity.

Though we are yet in a stage of experimental flight, and much has to be learnt in theory and practice before it can be adapted to the requirements of daily life, still even in its partially developed state the aeroplane may prove to be a potent factor of war. Under the cogent force of necessity the slenderest threads may have a power that in peace and prosperity would never be accorded them.

I will forebear the discussion of the much vexed question as to whether, when frontiers are obliterated and war made hideously terrible by the flying machine, there will come the end of strife. But at any rate we may hope that the common paths of the air that will unite nations will remove many prejudices and prolong the blest hours of peace.

PS I know there are corrections (proof reading) needed, but it's late and sleep calls.

10th Jul 2015, 08:31
Haraka, I've scanned the previous posts and agree that the debates here are, for the greater part, reasoned, energetic and on-point.

Yes, I am the Carroll F. Gray who writes articles on The Huffington Post, generally on topics of aeronautical history and in particular on the Whitehead Myth.

For several years I operated the AeroForum, until some evil-doers destroyed the database, so I appreciate this forum very much.

One point about Whitehead advocates that I frankly find amusing, is the notion that appears to be prevalent among Whitehead supporters that if Wilbur and Orville Wright can be denied the title of "First in Flight" then their fellow, old Gus Whitehead, will automatically be next in line for the honors.

What makes that leap funny is **if** we accept that Gus W. made short, powered, very low level hops of short distances in his uncontrolled No. 21 (which, by the way, he referred to many times as an "automobile"), then the earliest person to do what Gus W. supposedly did was Clement Ader on Oct. 6, 1890.

You could argue (and be right) that Ader's Eole was superior in many respects to No. 21, as it actually did have flight control mechanisms but they were ineffective due to the amount of time required to operate them, as well as some fundamental misunderstandings of what they would do.

Glad to be here.

10th Jul 2015, 13:41
Thank you for continuing to contribute to the ongoing chat .
Am I right in thinking that it was your good self who demonstrated that the photograph of the alleged " Whitehead machine in flight" was in fact most likely ( i.e. almost certainly) to be of the Montgomery glider suspended?
This helped enormously in closing an interlude in which "Jane's" was seen to be supporting Whitehead's claims: frankly, embarrassing all round.
I think that anybody who follows this thread and follows up on the links and references submitted, gains an appreciation of all of the pioneers, not least the Wright brothers who made an enormous contribution at a critical time, enhanced by the arrival of the internal combustion engine. The varying perspectives on this period in aviation history go to support fruitful discussion, during which all of us can hopefully learn something and consider our opinions.

11th Jul 2015, 05:55
Yes, I was the one who spotted what that blurry was almost certainly of, and where and when it was taken.

I've posted two articles about this...

GUSTAVE WHITEHEAD - What Did He Do ? (http://www.flyingmachines.org/gwinfo/newphoto.html)


GUSTAVE WHITEHEAD - What Did He Do ? (http://www.flyingmachines.org/gwinfo/photosearch.html)

The editor of Jane's was seriously mislead.

I agree that all those who busied themselves during the Pioneer and Exhibition Eras deserve our appreciation, even if for nothing more than their dedication to human flight. Many people devoted their lives to this puzzle, and that's certainly worthy of notice and remembrance, even if they didn't come up with a solution.

I suppose most people on this forum know that the owner and publisher of Jane's issued a statement in April 2015 putting the full responsibility for that March 2013 editorial supporting Whitehead on the shoulders of Jane's editor. You can read about that here...

<I>Jane's</I> Points Finger at Editor | Carroll F. Gray (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carroll-f-gray/janes-points-finger-at-editor_b_7122070.html)

14th Jul 2015, 16:42
A paper of interest, and written by an American!!!!!


Edited to add: this item may set off another round of discussion as to who did/didn't :)


15th Jul 2015, 08:58
Megan's first citation is an interesting paper, but it seems to me it misses a central fact of importance.

Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the aeroplane (I like to use period-appropriate terms) because they invented the means to control an aeroplane's flight... not because they invented the trussed biplane design, or curved lifting surfaces, or other elements of design.

Without the means to actively control the direction of an aeroplane's flight in the three directions (roll, pitch and yaw), the device, whatever its merits or abilities is not an aeroplane. At it's heart, it is an effective control system being operated in three directions while aloft that defines an aeroplane.

So, yes, the Wilbur and Orville Wright did invent the aeroplane, and their three-axis control system is what they patented.

15th Jul 2015, 10:55
To avoid referring back to #62

The New Oxford Dictionary definition of an aeroplane is given as:
"a powered flying machine with fixed wings and a weight greater than the air it displaces"
ORIGIN: late 19th cent from French aéroplane from aéro 'air' +Greek planos 'wandering".

By this definition, which is one I was taught, then such a device was not invented by the Wrights.

What the Wrights did certainly achieve was to demonstrate three axis control in manned flight and arguably should be accordingly so honoured for their contribution toward the ever ongoing evolution of the aeroplane.

The same dictionary terms airplane as " North American term for AEROPLANE"

In my copy of the " Jane's Aerospace Dictionary" the following is stated:

aeroplane(US=airplane) BS 185,1940; " a flying machine with plane(s) fixed in flight"
Modern definition might be "mechanically propelled aerodyne sustained by wings which, in any one flight regime, remain fixed".
Bill Gunston's definition - not mine.

Note that such generally accepted definitions of an aeroplane, or "airplane", do not of course depend upon such a craft of necessity having an on-board pilot or obeying three axis control. Thus Stringfellow in 1848 had achieved powered flight with his aeroplane, as had many others around the world before 1900.

P.S. As a cross-check, I looked up Mirriam-Webster and other American based dictionary definitions of airplane on line. They all pretty much state verbatim the references quoted above.

However if you make up your own definitions......... :)

15th Jul 2015, 15:18

However, we now know that flight implies the need for an energy source. A gliding aeroplane eventually runs out of kinetic energy (airspeed) and potential energy (altitude) at about the same time. A really efficient glider (sailplane) can capture an updraft as an energy source, but that too runs out.

And so late 19th century experimenters worked on propulsive devices to provide the energy for sustained flight, and some impressive engines were developed. But it was the Wrights who added the missing link: an efficient PROPELLER. With it, they didn't need a large engine. Four cylinders, 12 horsepower, simple (even crude) construction. With their propeller design, it was enough to do the job .

15th Jul 2015, 18:46
Not to be too picky, but the dictionary definitions of the words "aeroplane" and "airplane" are just that - definitions of the word. They describe the machine, not the functionality of the machine.

Without an effective three-axis control system, an aeroplane would not be functional.

I see the remarkably efficient Wright propeller as Wilbur and Orville Wrights' second great achievement. Their design came at a time when many people still wrongly thought of aerial propellers as essentially the same as a ship's propeller.

15th Jul 2015, 19:51
Without an effective three-axis control system, an aeroplane would not be functional

Would you care to elaborate?

Among many others I am thinking of Fokker, Mignet etc. etc. ,not forgetting Voisin of course, some of whom's products hold FAI ( which includes the USA of course) recognized aviation records ( including the closed kilometre ( i.e. turning in a fairly tight controlled circle speed record) .
Without the means to actively control the direction of an aeroplane's flight in the three directions (roll, pitch and yaw), the device, whatever its merits or abilities is not an aeroplane
According to your personal definition,as I understand it, so please correct me if I am wrong, we (including the FAI) have it all wrong and the Voisin types were not aeroplanes.

15th Jul 2015, 19:53
Would it not be right to say that the Wright's didn't invent the aeroplane, but that they were the first to fly one in a controlled and repeatable manner? That makes them first in my book.

15th Jul 2015, 22:12
As you probably know, the Voisin had a marginally effective three-axis control, skittering/sliding around turns, and could not make coordinated turns.

I admit the definition I use is not the usual one but it does highlight the difference between what Wilbur and Orville Wright managed to invent (an effective three-axis control system capable of coordinated turns) and what others were doing at the time.

I know most people might hear that and ask 'what's the difference?' - but it seems to me that being able to actively control the flight of an aerial machine to go where the operator/pilot wants to go is an essential for a proper aeroplane.

Notice I have not said others could not fly, and the Voisin is a good example of one that flew, but was not fully controllable so - in my view - it was not yet a fully developed aeroplane. The Farman, which derived a good bit of its design from the Voisin, was a fully realized aeroplane.

No one else needs to feel any pressure whatsoever to adopt the view I have, but it does have the merit of allowing people to better understand what Wilbur and Orville Wright accomplished.

Recall the reaction of European aviators when they witnessed Wilbur flying in 1908 - Louis Bleriot was quoted as saying something to the effect that "We are as children" when he saw how much control Wilbur had over his machine, and what it was capable of doing.

I do think it's correct to say that the Wrights (especially Wilbur on the last flight of 17 December 1903) were the first to make a controlled, sustained, powered flight in a heavier-than-air machine.

I think it's also correct to say that the Wrights invented the three-axis control system, which is the basis of very nearly all subsequent aeroplanes.

Admittedly, there were and are aeroplanes that did fly and could be maneuvered to some degree without fully-developed three-axis control, but if you're thinking about an aeroplane in flight as we now understand it, you're thinking of a three-axis control system as being an essential element of that aeroplane.

16th Jul 2015, 05:15
I totally agree that full three axis control is a considerable improvement over the "two axis and stability in the third" philosophy regarding precision of manoeuvre.
I think therefore it can be stated with some justification that the Wrights certainly taught the world to fly better.

16th Jul 2015, 08:36
Just curious.

What/when was the first "aeroplane" flown that dispensed with wing-warping and used a wheeled undercarriage?


16th Jul 2015, 09:56
That's contentious Noyade ( of course! )
Santos -Dumont was flying his wheeled undercarriage 14-bis using ailerons, without ever utilising wing warping, in 1906. By flying unassisted off the ground in relatively still air and not using any external device such as a catapult, before accredited witnesses, under one interpretation of FAI rules this was arguably ( by some) also the first properly recognised manned aeroplane flight.
It all goes back to Carroll's point as to what are, albeit subjectively, considered essential characteristics to be a "proper" aeroplane ( and at what point in aviation history were those demonstrably fulfilled)
Carroll also stated that :
The Farman, which derived a good bit of its design from the Voisin, was a fully realized aeroplane
I see and respect where he is coming from, as it was an " aileronised Voisin" and I would suggest , more realistically perhaps fulfills your criteria. However the question of maneuverability versus natural stability as part of a "fully realised" aeroplane arises.
For that definition to apply , I think we have to look on a few years more and follow the evolution of the B.E.'s up to the B.E. 2c.
By many definitions this was arguably the first naturally stable, yet fully 3 axis controllable aeroplane in production.

16th Jul 2015, 20:08
Design intention has a role in this, also. Inherent instability was a design feature, an intentional design feature, of the 1903 Flyer.

... and, speaking of the B.E. 2c., let's remember what happened when inherent stability came head-to-head with maneuverability in the early part of The Great War.

17th Jul 2015, 08:07
Thanks for your thoughts Haraka. The B.E 2C is an interesting choice.

Inherent instability was a design feature,Carol - was there too much instability in the Wright's aircraft?


John Farley
17th Jul 2015, 13:00

let's remember what happened when inherent stability came head-to-head with maneuverability in the early part of The Great War.

How very true.

Most aeronautical libraries have shelves of books titled "The stability and control of aircraft"

In my view they have all got it wrong. They should be called "The control and stability of aircraft" You can fly without stability (even if you don't like it too much) but you cannot fly without control.


17th Jul 2015, 14:00
You can fly without stability

Indeed you can, but is it a practicable state of affairs for an average pilot who, perhaps over an extended period of time, has to retain the spare capacity to operate the aeroplane as distinct from merely flying it?

John Farley
17th Jul 2015, 14:30

Agreed but I never said it was ideal or in what circumstances it was acceptable.

I will repeat one thing though and that is you cannot fly at all without control.

AvP 970 (as was in the 60s) which specified the flying qualities of UK military aircraft required them to be stable at all times in the circuit. I needed to certificate an aeroplane that was very unstable in pitch when in the circuit. This was achieved to the satifaction of all concerned by giving it very good control.


17th Jul 2015, 16:27
you cannot fly at all without control.

As a fun aside this reminds me of one of the early F-104 test pilots ( "Fish" Salmon IIRC) visiting U.K. and being in the company of Haraka Senior.
To keep the conversation going, the old man asked "Fish" ,out of interest , how many hours he had spent test flying the F-104 .
" Over 1000",
Senior quietly expressed his admiration for achieving 1000hr PI on test flying the beast.

"Oh," replied "Fish",

"I wouldn't claim by definition that they were all strictly "Pilot in Command"."

Genghis the Engineer
17th Jul 2015, 17:04
In passing, Fish Salmon sadly died on the job: ferrying a Super Constellation in 1980, although prior to that, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots named their annual "best paper" award after him.

IIRC, the first winner of that award is posting slightly higher up on this thread.


21st Jul 2015, 00:57
At first glance, the answer to the question "What does it mean to fly ?" seems to be obvious, yet is it, truly obvious ?

To many, probably most, people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries merely getting into the air through some mechanical means, using a power source or gravity or moving air, would have qualified as "flying."

A surprising number of people managed to make hops of 100 or more feet during that early period, and it can be easily understood that they and anyone who saw them do what they did would have thought they had witnessed a human flying.

Of course, this plays into any discussion of "who flew first."

It's also important to remember that at that earlier time there was no fixed standard as to what constituted human flight, everyone was free to set their own standard.

A quick review of some of the more outlandish designs of that period demonstrates that there was also no fixed standard as to what constituted an aeroplane.

I think it's difficult for us, in the present age, to fully comprehend what all this meant to people in that earlier time.

21st Jul 2015, 09:15
I'm in absolute agreement with Carroll's latest comments. The definition of "who flew first" is largely dictated by assigned ( and popular) criteria, some of which are applied retrospectively.
There were a range of pioneers and institutions who ,internationally, were contributing to the evolution of a practicable aeroplane . The tipping point came around the turn of the 20th century with structural and aerodynamic (including propeller) knowledge coming together and combining with increasingly efficient engines.
I don't think that the absence of any single source of input over that period would have seriously delayed the overall evolution toward a useful aeroplane . Which is NOT a dig at the Wrights , whose contribution was enormous.
In defence of the B.E. 2c, do remember that it first flew pre-war and it was committed to mass production primarily as an observation machine, before the concept of air-to-air combat was generally appreciated.
The impact of such combat , particularly of course the Fokker monoplanes whose machine gun interrupter gear combined with aerial fighting tactics developed by such as Immelman, arrived almost a year and a half after the commencement of hostilities.
Such attacks, usually from the stern against unarmed, or poorly armed, B.E. types ( with their observer then in the front cockpit and unable to usefully defend the 2 seater) led to the "Fokker Fodder" appellation.
Certainly the comparative lack of maneuverability of the B.E.'s also contributed to a huge and often fatal disadvantage for the type from then on.
As is well known, that situation continued to escalate up to a political scandal as the war developed.

joy ride
21st Jul 2015, 11:00
The last 2 posts say what I think but expressed much better!

I am not "anti-Wright" and agree that their contribution and dedication was huge, but I feel that the "podium" built for them by their fans is too high and too exclusive; in my opinion the Montgolfier Brothers, Sir George Cayley, Otto Lillienthal, Clement Ader (among others) made equally significant historical contributions; Percy Pilcher would probably have joined this elite group if he had not been killed.

From what I have learned here and elsewhere I am not convinced that Whitehead is in this group.

Finally the "criteria" seem to me to be debatable, especially as heavier-than-air craft can and do fly without 3 axis control mechanisms. Clement Ader has been ruled out of being the "first" because Eole did not have "proper" 3 axis controls, but if we now know that 3AC is not imperative, then why is it still classed as a defining criterion?

For example, I believe that some modern military jets would be incapable of controlled flight without their computers, so by the very criteria used to place the Wrights at Number One, we would logically have to say that modern planes are NOT planes!

longer ron
21st Jul 2015, 19:10
I personally think that the Wrights qualify a little higher than most purely because of the impressive hard work that they put in to further proper scientific/engineering aviation research.
They of course should not have got bogged down in all the legal issues but to an extent it was understandable,it was also understandable that they felt aggrieved about the shenanigans with some of the American scientific community/smithsonian et al.

rgds LR

21st Jul 2015, 23:35
As people have said, the development of heavier-than-air aviation does not depend on a single invention. Some advances were by invention, some by integration of previously existing knowledge.

Trying to decide who was the first to fly is a parlour game, which is OK until some kind of fervour, nationalistic or other, leads people to denigrate great pioneers, such as the Wrights.

You can't even establish a criterion for "practical flight," since what counts as "practical" changes in the light of existing developments. By the standards of 1903, the Wrights achieved practical flight (passage from point A to point B, in the air, not by inertia, where point B is not lower than point A, and where the aeroplane is available for re-use after only minor fettling), but by the standards of 1908, established in part by the Wrights, it was a marginal hop.

But it is interesting to learn about the progress of development, the contributions and sometimes strange omissions of the pioneers.

joy ride
22nd Jul 2015, 07:29
Longer Ron : I personally think that the Wrights qualify a little higher than most purely because of the impressive hard work that they put in to further proper scientific/engineering aviation research.

After this, the previous Wrights thread, and other reading, I reckon I more-or-less agree with this!

However, it seems to me that as soon as they were elevated to "a little higher than most" (by criteria which I find debatable) then all the other pioneers were classed as also-rans and failures, which is absolutely wrong, and often further skewed by nationalistic pride..

Achieving flight was truly a multi-national endeavour, starting long before the Wrights were born. If I were to design a monument to flight it would have to have at least five steps: Montgolfiers, Cayley, Lillienthal, Ader, Wrights.