Monday, March 9, 2009

Major success in 1909

Throughout the winter and spring — The Wrights fly for royalty all over Europe, launching their airplane from France and Italy.

February 19 -- Glenn Curtiss and Augustus Herring incorporate the Herring-Curtiss Company to manufacture airplanes. They have no intention of licensing the Wright patents.

May-April -- In France Henry Farman develops a biplane that uses ailerons to control roll. It is the first practical European airplane with ailerons.

June 16 -- Glenn Curtiss delivers the Golden Flier to the Aeronautic Society of New York. It is the first commercially-sold airplane in America.

June 29 to July 30 -- The Wrights deliver their new Military Flyer to the U.S. Army Signal Corps at Fort Meyer, Virginia, and put it through the required trials. The Army accepts the flying machine and becomes the first military aircraft in the world.

July 17 -- Glenn Curtiss flies 25 miles in the Golden Flier to win the Scientific American Trophy for a second year in a row.

July 25 -- Louis Bleriot crosses the English Channel in a Bleriot XI monoplane. This has an enormous psychological effect around the world because it shows that natural physical boundaries that had protected nations for millennia can be crossed easily by airplane.

August 22 to 29 -- 22 pilots from all over the world converge on the old French cathedral city of Rheims for the first-ever aviation meet. There are hundreds of flights over seven days, and one spectator, David Lloyd George (who would later become Prime Minister of England, remarks, "Flying machines are no longer toys and dreams; they are an established fact."

August 27 -- Farman makes the first flight of over 100 miles and wins the contest for endurance flying at Rheims.

August 29 -- Curtiss comes in first in the speed contest at Rheims, capturing the Gordon Bennett Cup and setting a new world's speed record of 46.5 miles per hour.

September 7 -- Eugene Lefebvre dies while testing a new French-built Wright airplane. He is the first pilot to die at the controls of his craft.

October 2 -- Orville Wright makes the first fight above 1000 feet in altitude.

September 30 to October 4 -- For the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in New York, Wilbur Wright circles the Statue of Liberty and flies up the Hudson River to Grant's Tomb and back. Over a million people see him fly.

October 6 to November 2 -- Wilbur Wright trains Lieutenants Frank Lahm and Fredrick Humphreys to fly at College Park, Maryland. They become the first U.S. military pilots.

November 22 -- Orville and Wilbur Wright incorporate the Wright Company to manufacture airplanes. The company is backed by New York financiers, including Delancy Nicoll, Cornelius Vanderbilt, August Belmont, Morton Plant, Thomas F. Ryan, Theodore P. Shonts, Russel Alger, and Robert Collier.

Aviation in 1907 to 1908

September 21 — Wilbur Wright sets a new world record for time aloft, 1 hour and 31 minutes. He does the best flying of his life in the months that follow, knowing he has to give the press something to talk about besides Orville’s terrible crash. He sets new records almost daily.

January 13 — Henry Farman wins the Grand Prix d’Aviation in a modified Voisin biplane, flying the first circle in Europe.

February — The Wrights reach an agreement with the United States War Department to deliver a two-seat aircraft for $25,000.

March — A syndicate of French businessmen agree to manufacture Wright airplanes if the Wrights will come to France and demonstrate one.

March 12 — The Aerial Experiment Association tests its first plane, the Red Wing on a frozen lake in Hammondsport, New York. It makes a 319-foot hop and crash-lands.

April 9 — Wilbur Wright returns to Kitty Hawk to practice flying before he demonstrates the improved aircraft they now call the Wright Model A.

April 25 — Orville Wright joins Wilbur in Kitty Hawk

May 6 — Orville and Wilbur resume flying tests.

May 21 — The Aerial Experiment Association tests its second plane, the White Wing with Glenn Curtiss at the controls. It makes a 1,017-foot flight and lands safely.

May — The Wrights decide to divide their forces — Orville to Fort Meyer, Virginia, Wilbur to France.

May — Henry Farnam, France, challenges the Wrights to a fly-off for cash stakes — $5,000 — for best speed and distance. When newspapermen confront Wilbur with the challenge, he characteristically has no comment.

June — Wilbur Wright arrives in France, finds the Wright Model A that was shipped there was smashed by Customs officials. He begins to repair it with hired French workmen in a corner of the Le Mans automobile factory.

July 4 — The Aerial Experiment Association wins the Scientific American prize with the June Bug, a plane designed and piloted by Glenn Curtiss. The same day, Wilbur Wright is badly burned in France when a radiator hose explodes.

August 8 — With the French press taking pot shots at the Wrights, Wilbur decides "it would be a good thing to do a little something," even though the Wright Model A is not quite ready. A crowd gathers at the Le Mans racetrack, including Bleriot, Archdeacon, and other French aviators. Wilbur makes a flight of almost 2 minutes and the French are won over. Says Delagrange, "Well, we are beaten." Bleriot says, "Monsieur Wright has us all in his hands." Only Archdeacon is a little sour.

Aviation in 1906

January — The Aero Club of France meeting is rocked by the news of the Wright’s accomplishments. Ferber accepts the Wrights claims, Archdeacon refuses to give in. Archdeacon sends a taunting letter to the Wrights, challenging them to come to France and claim the Grand Prix d’Aviation. The Wrights do not respond.

January — The French journal L’Aerophile publishes the details of the Wright’s patent, but members of the Aero Club ignore it.

March -- The first tractor monoplane, a Vuia, is tested. It's unsuccessful, but it starts an important design trend.

July 23 — Albertos Santos-Dumont, France, tests the control of his powered airplane, the 14-Bis, tethered underneath a dirigible.

September 13 — Albertos Santos-Dumont, France, makes several short hops in his 14-Bis.

October — Octave Chanute writes the Wrights that the Europeans are catching up to them. Wilbur writes back that he believes the Europeans won’t have a flyable airplane for 5 years.

October 23 — Albertos Santos-Dumont, France, flies 197 feet in his 14-Bis. But he never gets far enough the ground to get out of "ground effect" and it’s not counted as a true flight.

November 12 — Albertos Santos-Dumont, France, flies 722 feet in his 14-Bis. This is considered the first true flight of a powered aircraft in Europe.

Aviation in 1905

June — Robert Esnault-Peltrie, France, builds a Wright-style glider. It performs poorly and he blames the wing-warping system. He substitutes ailerons and publishes his findings. Later, other aviators will use Peltrie’s ailerons to get around the Wright’s patents.

June — The Wrights take to the air with a new machine, the Flyer III. It is the world’s first practical airplane.

October 5 — The Wrights fly for 24 miles in 38 minutes, landing only when their gas tank runs dry.

October — The United States government tells the Wrights it has "no requirements" for a flying machine.

November — The Aero Club of France learns that the Wrights have made of flight of 24 miles, circling the Huffman Prairie. They are skeptical, dispatch a correspondent to the United States to investigate. The correspondent corroborates the Wright’s accounts.

November — Gabriel Voison and Ernest Archdeacon, France, test a box-like glider, towing it behind a motorboat. It flies successfully.

Fall — Louis Bleriot, France, meets Gabriel Voisin who is building gliders for Archdeacon. The two agree to collaborate and build several unsuccessful powered machines.

Fall — Albertos Santos-Dumont produces an unsuccessful helicopter.

The First to Fly 1904

March — Ernest Archdeacon, France puts up a purse of 25,000 francs for the first officially recorded circular flight of one kilometer, called the Grand Prix d’Aviation. French oil magnate Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe matches Archdeacon, raising the prize to 50,000 francs, or about $10,000.

Spring — Albertos Santos-Dumont, France, a pilot famous for his pioneering work in dirigibles, begins to experiment with gliders.

May — The Wrights attempt to fly at Huffman Prairie, Ohio before the press on two occasions with a new machine, the Flyer II. However, because it is so underpowered, it can only manage brief hops.

July — The first of the Wright’s patents is granted.

August — The Wrights are making hops of 600 feet in the Flyer II, but they still have trouble getting into the air and staying there.

September — The Wrights develop a catapult launching system to get their aircraft up to flying speed. It works well, and they begin to make progress again.

September 20 — Wilbur Wright flies the first complete circle in an airplane.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

1900 - The Kitty Hawk

Throughout the spring and summer — The Wrights plan and build parts for their first glider.

May 13 — Wilbur Wright writes Octave Chanute and asks for advice.

August 3 — Wilbur Wright writes to Kitty Hawk, asking for information on weather and lodging.

August 16 — Joseph Dosher, the chief of the Kitty Hawk weather station, responds to Wilbur’s letter. Dosher also refers Wilbur’s letter to William Tate, the postmaster. Tate also writes Wilbur, providing more details about Kitty Hawk

September 13 — Wilbur Wright arrives in Kitty Hawk, stays with the Tates, and begins to assemble a glider.

September 28 — Orville Wright arrives with camping gear, food, and a mandolin. He also brings a camera, the first ever seen in Kitty Hawk. The brother stay in a 12-foot by 22-foot tent, about a mile from the Tates. They assemble a biplane glider with movable front elevator — they have located the elevator at the front not only to provide control, but to serve the same function as Lilienthal’s rebound bow. They begin to test the glider as a kite. Orville begins a humorous correspondence with his sister Katharine, whom he is very close to. Wilbur will not let Orville fly until he’s sure the glider is safe.

October 10 — The Wrights experience their first crash. They rebuild the glider, and once again test it like a kite.

The Wrights send 10-year-old Tom Tate, William’s nephew up on the glider as they fly it like a kite. Later on, just before they leave to go back home, Wilbur makes about a dozen free flights.

October 23 — The Wrights break camp and head for Dayton. Puzzled by failure of glider to produce calculated lift, but encouraged by success of wing warping and elevator control.

1899- Wright Brothers

The Wright brothers experiment with twisting wings, trying to deform the front edges. They can’t come up with a device light enough or strong enough to control a glider in flight.

May 30 — Wilbur Wright writes the Smithsonian asking for published materials on aeronautics. He is answered by Richard Rathbun, who sends four pamphlets and a list of other publications.

July — Wilbur Wright sells a woman a bicycle inner tube, then nervously twists the box that it came in while she talks to him. He notices that when he twists one end of the small rectangular box in one direction, the other end twists in the opposite direction. In his mind’s eye, he sees the twisting wings of a biplane.

July — The Wright brothers build a biplane kite with a wingspan of 5 feet and a wing warping system. When tested by Wilbur, it works just as planned. Unable to contain his enthusiasm, he pedals miles out into the country side to find Orville, who is on a camping trip with friends. Immediately the brothers begin planning a man-carrying version.

September 30 — Percy Pilcher dies in a crash of his Hawk, just as he is preparing to test a powered airplane.

November 27 — Wilbur Wright writes the United States Weather Bureau and inquires about locations with high winds. The weather bureau sends him The Monthly Weather Reviewand wind charts, and Wilbur learns of Kitty Hawk.

1895 to 1896 Airplane

<------Pilcher's first three gliders, from the top: the Bat, the Beetle, and the Gul.

The Pilcher Hawk in flight -- it was controlled exactly the same way as Lilienthal controlled his gliders. Pilcher kicked his legs to shift his body weight in the direction he wanted to go.---->

1889 to 1894 Airplanes

<------Hargrave's model "Flyer No. 7," powered by a compressed air motor.

Lilenthal's first succesful glider, his "No. 3."---->

While Maxim's airplane may not have been successful, his engines were technological marvels. Each engine was light enough the Maxim could lift them.
To facilitate his gliding experiments, Lilenthal built a hill to launch from. He named this "Flight Mountain." -------->

1884 Airplane

Alexander F. Mozhaiski, Russia, builds a steam-powered monoplane and tests it at Krasnoye Selo, near St. Petersburg. It takes off on a jump ramp and flies for approximately 100 feet before crashing. This is the second power-assisted take-off in history.

Horatio F. Phillips, England, experiments with cambered wings in a wind tunnel and lays down the scientific foundation for modern airfoil design. He is the first to discover that when the wind blows across a curved surface, it creates a low pressure area on top of the surface and high pressure beneath it. This, in turn, generates lift.

1880 to 1884 Airplane

1881-Louis Moulliard, France, writes another milestone in aeronautics, Empire of the Air, in which he proposes fixed-wing gliders with cambered wings, like birds. He also proposes that aviators practice in gliders to gain the skill needed to pilot an aircraft in the air. Up until that time, everyone in the infant field of aviation presumed you could navigate the sky with no more skill than a chauffer. It split the field into two camps, each with a different approach to making a practical aircraft. The chauffeurs focus on engineering, making a powered flying machine. The pilots practice with gliders to gain skill before attempting powered flight.

1883 - John J. Montgomery of California builds a monoplane glider and makes the first gliding flight in America. The glider crashes and is destroyed at the end of its maiden flight, and Montgomery barely escapes with his life.

Charles Parsons, England, inventor of the turbine motor, tests a small 1/4 horsepower steam turbine engine in a model airplane, propelling it for approximately 300 feet. Although Parsons experiments had little effect on the development of aviation, some consider this to be the first jet aircraft.

1878- Begining of new Era

Bishop Milton Wright, then living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, brings home a rubber band-powered Penaud-type helicopter for his sons. They build several successful copies. Orville tells his schoolteacher that he and his brother Wilbur plan to build a large enough machine to carry the both of them. But when the try to build a larger model, it doesn’t fly.

1871- Planophore

Alphonse Penaud builds a planophore, a 20-inch long monoplane with a pusher propeller powered by a rubber band. It flies 131 feet in 11 seconds — the first flight of an inherently stable aircraft.

1870 - Helicpoter

Alphonse Penaud, France, uses twisted rubber bands to power a miniature helicopter. It’s copied by dozens of toymakers in Europe in America

1868 Airplane

Jean-Marie Le Bris tests an improved version of his glider, making several unmanned glides before it crashes.
The first exhibition of flying machines, in England, sponsored by the Aeronautical Society.

John Stringfellow, England, proposes a man-carrying triplane, similar to Henson’s aerial steam carriage. It captures the public’s imagination, although the model does not perform well when tested.

Foundation of Aeronautical Society

1866- The Aeronautical Society is founded in England.

Francis Herbert Wenham, England addresses the first meeting of the Aeronautical Society. His speech, titled Aerial Locomotion, is another milestone in aeronautics. He also proposes that aspiring pilots should practice first in gliders before trying to fly powered aircraft. His own 5-wing gliders have little success.

1857 to 1865 Powering Up

Jean-Marie Le Bris, a French sea caption, tests a glider modeled after an albatross. This "artificial bird" makes one short glide, but on the second glide it crashes and Le Bris breaks his leg.

Felix Du Temple and his brother Louis, France, fly a model monoplane whose propellers are driven by a small steam engine. It takes of under its own power, flies a short distance, and glides to a safe landing. It is the first successful flight of a powered aircraft of any sort.

1853- Coachman Carrier

Sir George Cayley builds an improved version of his glider and convinces his coachman to pilot it. The coachman, whose name is lost to us, makes an wavering, uncontrolled glide of a few hundred feet -- the world’s first true manned flight in a fixed-wing aircraft. The coachman quits Cayley’s service immediately after his one and only feat of airmanship, reportedly saying, "I wish to give notice, sir -- I was hired to drive, not to fly."

1845 to 1849 Airplane

1845-48-William Samuel Henson and John Stringfellow attempt to form the Aerial Transit Company, which (if only they had a practical airplane), would have been the world's first airline. To drum up support, they build and test a model of Henson's aerial carriage with a 20-foot wingspan. It makes brief glides, but does not sustain flight.

1849-Sir George Cayley builds a small glider designed to lift about 80 pounds of the ground. He refers to it as his Boy Glider. It is the first recorded manned (or boyed) fixed-wing aircraft. It lifts a 10-year old boy off the ground for a few yards on test runs. Cayley also flew it in a high wind like a kite, tethered to the ground.

1810 to 1840 Airlanes

Walker's tandem-wing design featured a wing whose camber was upside down. Had it been built, it would have stayed firmly on the ground.

Cayley also designed lighter-than-air craft.


1809-Sir George Cayley builds a man-sized version of his glider with a wing surface of 300 feet. An assistant makes a few tentative hops in the air, holding onto the fuselage.

Sir George Cayley begins to publish On Aerial Navigation, a three-part article which appeared in Nicholson’s Journal of Natural Philosophy. It is a milestone and for the first time defines the three elements required by an aircraft — lift, propulsion, and control.

1799 to 1804 Airplanes

1799-Sir George Cayley, a baronet in Yorkshire, near Scarborough, England, conceives a craft with stationary wings to provide lift and "flappers" to provide thrust. It also has a movable tail to provide control. So convinced is he that this idea is an earth-shaker, he engraves a drawing of this craft on a silver disk. Cayley is the first to separate the different forces that keep an aircraft in the air, and his engraving is the first recorded drawing of a fixed-wing aircraft -- an airplane.

1804-Sir George Cayley, England, builds a miniature glider with a single wing and a movable tail mounted on a universal joint. It also has a movable weight to adjust the center of gravity. It is the first recorded fixed-wing aircraft of any size capable of flight.

Concept of Airplane

It wasn’t until the turn of the nineteenth century that an English baronet from the gloomy moors of Yorkshire conceived a flying machine with fixed wings, a propulsion system, and movable control surfaces. This was the fundamental concept of the airplane. Sir George Cayley also built the first true airplane — a kite mounted on a stick with a movable tail. It was crude, but it proved his idea worked, and from that first humble glider evolved the amazing machines that have taken us to the edge of space at speeds faster than sound.

Light Air Balloons

The trouble is, it works better at bird-scale than it does at the much larger scale needed to lift both a man and a machine off the ground. So folks began to look for other ways to fly. Beginning in 1783, a few aeronauts made daring, uncontrolled flights in lighter-than-air balloons, but this was hardly a practical way to fly. There was no way to get from here to there unless the wind was blowing in the desired direction.


The dream of flying is as old as mankind itself. However, the concept of the airplane has only been around for two centuries. Before that time, men and women tried to navigate the air by imitating the birds. They built machines with flapping wings called ornithopters. On the surface, it seemed like a good plan. After all, there are plenty of birds in the air to show that the concept does

Friday, March 6, 2009

Flying Machine

Following in Lilienthal's footsteps, efforts to invent an airplane became commonplace in the 1890's. The majority of the efforts were in Europe, but in the U.S., Octave Chanute and Samuel Pierpont Langley made prominent attempts.

Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright are the brothers credited with the first airplane powered by an engine. The brothers requested a patent for a "flying machine" nine months before their successful flight in December of 1903. The brother's were adamant about photographing every prototype and test of their various flying machines; therefore, when it came time for one of their machines to actually work, it was caught on camera. After several test tries, Orville and Wilbur sent a telegram to their father, instructing him to "inform [the] press."

The Wrights brother's success story came so suddenly that their contemporaries could not believe the Wrights had done what they had claimed. After all, prominent scientists and engineers all over the world had been trying to do exactly what the Wright brothers did with absolutely no success.

Invention of Airplane

The story of the invention of the airplane is one of honest, straightforward, hard-working Americans trying to accomplish something that had been evading inventors for years. At the turn of the century, dozens and dozens of people were working on inventing a flying machine. With extensive studies of birds and their flights, hang gliders, and even kites, people were obsessed with this idea of developing a machine that can fly.

It was a German engineer, Otto Lilienthal who finally made a real discovery that contributed significantly to the final development of the airplane. Lilienthal seriously the idea advocated by Sir George Cayley almost a hundred years earlier that the lift function and the thrust function of a bird's wings were separate and distinct. He thought they could be imitated by different systems on a fixed wing craft and began working on the idea. In the end he made two very important contributions to the emerging field of airplane invention by perfecting a glider before attempting powered flight and a table of the lift provided by curved wings.