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Author Topic: First powered flight
Doc J.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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For as long as I can remember, I have believed unquestioningly that Wilbur and Orville Wright were the first humans to experience powered flight - and maybe this is true.

However, I just unearthed a short article on British inventors which casts just a hint of doubt on the Wright brother's success . . .

The article is derived from a piece by Adam Hart-Davis, a popular British historian, probably most famous for his recent TV work . . . "What the Romans did for us", "What the Victorians did for us" etc.

http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~robodyne/inventorsworld/iwstring.htm

However, I am having trouble finding any more concrete info on the "event". The US centennial of flight website barely even mentions Stringfellow - not a surprise really.

http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Dictionary/Stringfellow/DI45.htm

Anybody else heard of this ?

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BCE
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I think part of the qualification for the "First powered flight" that gives the nod to the Wrights was the fact that there was a pilot/passenger involved.

Mr. Stringfellow's aircraft weighed in at 9 pounds with a 10-foot wingspan; it's not clear to me from the article whether or not it actually had a human aboard during the flight. If not, a rubber-band-powered paper airplane could equally be considered the first "powered flight."

BCE

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Doc J.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Hmmm, good point. It isn't overly clear from the article whether the plane was manned - but I guess that at a weight of 9lb it probably wasn't !

D'Oh !

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Ursa Major
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It's all in the definition of "powered flight". The one that gives the nod to the Wrights not only includes having a pilot/passenger but also includes a powered, controlled, hard ground landing.

This excludes such daredevils as the Turk who rode a rocket on a 20 second flight and splashed down in the Bosporus during the 17th Century.

If we used a similar definition for space flight, the US couldn't claim the accomplishment until 1981.

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BeachLife
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quote:
Originally posted by Ursa Major:
It's all in the definition of "powered flight". The one that gives the nod to the Wrights not only includes having a pilot/passenger but also includes a powered, controlled, hard ground landing.

This excludes such daredevils as the Turk who rode a rocket on a 20 second flight and splashed down in the Bosporus during the 17th Century.

If we used a similar definition for space flight, the US couldn't claim the accomplishment until 1981.

This is correct.

I think the whole phrase is something like 'first manned, powered flight in a fully controllable aircraft'. The poing being that it was the Wright Brothers who proved that flying could someday be a viable form of transportation.

Beach...gotta hand it to the brits though, they always have a story in their back pocket as to how they invented everything...Life!

Edited to add this link.

--------------------
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Jack Dragon, On Being a Dragon
Confessions of a Dragon's scribe
Diary of my Heart Surgery

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Maybe "the first manned, powered flight in a controlled heavier-than-air craft in which the pilot safely returned alive to the earth."

Because as far back as the Civil War, maneuverable dirigibles were in use.

Brad "true, they weren't much good in a strong headwind" from Georgia

--------------------
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Hear what you're missing: ARTC podcasts! http://artcpodcast.org/

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Animal or god?
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The New Zealanders in their desperate struggle to find non-Maori heroes in their young country list one of their own as being some kind of inventor of the aeroplane. However as far as I could make out, this gentleman, although a genius of sorts never really got his accomplishment more widely known thanks to NZ's isolation.
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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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A French inventor, Clement Ader, is another person with some claim, although he apparently exaggerated his achievements rather (ie lied), so nobody quite knows whether his planes flew at all. The most likely flight was of 50 metres in 1890 in a plane called the Eole. Doc J's page mentions him rather dismissively.

Even so, he doesn't beat the Wright Brothers as his flight wasn't controlled.

Ader's 3rd plane

The eole

There's an interesting claim about the French word for aeroplane on that site - I'll start a new thread though...

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Doc J.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Beach Life:
...gotta hand it to the brits though, they always have a story in their back pocket as to how they invented everything...

Well, we've got to keep you guys on your toes, or you'd try and take credit for everything. [Wink]

Edited to add:

Ah, I see from another thread that Pepsi and Coca-Cola have just successfully re-invented water. I'd love to have seen the guy's face down at the patent office. Apparently, given the right marketing, people WILL buy anything. [Big Grin]

Peckam spring anyone ?*

"More bottles please Rodney" [Roll Eyes]

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Doc J.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Waffle
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'Lester
The Red and the Green Stamps


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--- Today, I tripped across an article,
("Flight Journal" October 1998 - "Did Gustave Whitehead fly first?")

. -- This article also mentioned Clement Ader's "Eole", which was good for short hops, under minimal chance of control (eg: if a gust hit, or you "discovered" Ground Effect)

Ted Basche wrote a feature article in Bridgeport Sunday post describing the August 14,1901 "Whitehead Half-Mile Flight", followed by Sports Editor, Dick Howell Bridgepoint Sunday Herald

Book "Lost Flights of Gustaf Whitehead" (1937 - Stella Randolph)

Book "Before the Wrights Flew" (1966 pub. G.P. Putnam & Sons)

. -- The Smithsonian NASM has pictures of Whiteheads' aircraft (none in flight), & there was a rumour that a full-scale model was built by a German team, finding that Whiteman tried for a naturally-stable machine, not understanding how he would create mechanisms to control this machine in all three axes.
(any landing you can "Pancake" & walk away from is a good one? [Smile] )

. -- The Wright Brothers, however, were the first in controlled flight, with a man aboard;

-- First to have these flights photographically documented,

-- First to patent the machine they used for the flight (although Orville confused this as a patent on "Controlled Flight", & harrassed Glen Curtiss, who was using Aileron Flaps on his aircraft, not Wing-Warping)

-- And, First to turn this machine (& its' descendants) into a Commercially Viable product, for the future benefit of other investors, consumers, etc. [Big Grin]

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Sgt Otter
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I believe that the late 19th/early 20th century flying New Zealander was a hoax, perpetuated by Peter Jackson in his silent film mockumentary "Forgotten Silver."
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Cabus
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I've questioned this for a long time, but here in Brazil we're taught in school that the first powered flight was made by brazilian inventor Alberto Santos Dumont. It just seems biased to me, though.

--------------------
You can't spell failure without U R A.

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Ursa Major
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quote:
Originally posted by Cabus:
I've questioned this for a long time, but here in Brazil we're taught in school that the first powered flight was made by brazilian inventor Alberto Santos Dumont. It just seems biased to me, though.

Alberto Santos Dumont was, indeed, a pioneer in powered, controlled flight, however his work prior to the Wright's flight at Kitty Hawk was in lighter-than-air craft. He didn't test a heavier-than-air craft until 1906 when he managed to do what even the Wright Bros. had yet to achieve by having his plane take off under its own power.
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Animal or god?
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"I believe that the late 19th/early 20th century flying New Zealander was a hoax, perpetuated by Peter Jackson in his silent film mockumentary "Forgotten Silver.""

Maybe, but it's still appearing in the famous NZers lists long after that was revealed as a fake. An NZer filled me in on the Forgotten Silver story several years back.

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Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Adam Hart-Davis, a popular British historian
More a sort of popular scientist and historian thereof.

I love Adam Hart-Davis. I wonder if he'll build me a Science Shack...

Embra

--------------------
I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.

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Doc J.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Embra:
quote:
Adam Hart-Davis, a popular British historian
More a sort of popular scientist and historian thereof.

I love Adam Hart-Davis. I wonder if he'll build me a Science Shack...

Embra

Hey, not fair, I want one of those too - just like Wilf Lunn used to have. Actually, my lab IS about the size of a shed, and as well decorated.

[Frown]

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Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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The weekend before last he rigged it up to supply a nice hot bubble bath, champagne cooler, chandelier, soft music, and hot food, all without the aid of mains electricity.

Classy.

I do have a shed at the end of the garden, but unfortunately it only contains a poorly maintained bicycle and a colony of spiders.

Embra

Edited to say: Blimey, Wilf Lunn eh?!

--------------------
I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.

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'Lester
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--- Signs Of The Times: ---

"Flight by Heavier-than-Air Craft is impossible"
( Lord Kelvin )

"Aerial flight is one of that class of problems with which Man will never be able to cope."
( Simon Newcomb )

"The (flying) machines will eventually be fast; they will be used in sport -- but they should not be thought of as commercial carriers."
( Octave Chanute, 1910)

"Railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 mph by engines which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort through the countryside, setting fire to the crops, scaring the livestock, and frightening women and children.
. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed--"
( Martin Van Buren )

"Rail Travel at such high speeds is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia."
( Dr. Dionysius Lardner (1793-1859))

"We must not be misled to our own detriment to assume that the untried machine can displace the proved and tried Horse."
( Maj. Gen. John H. Kerr, 1938)

"We hope the professor from Clark College (Dr. Robert H. Goddard) is only professing to be ignorant of Elementary Physics if he thinks that a rocket can work in a vacuum...."
( Editorial, New York Times 1920)

"Space Travel is utter Bilge"
( Sir Richard van der Riet Wooley, The Astronomer Royal, 1956)

______________________________________________

Recently, I've found Disc 4 (out of HOW many?) of CD-ROM texts from Project Gutenberg (Illinois Benedictine College)
. -- Lester -- still MOSTLY harmless ...

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cei
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Wilf Lunn, we are going back a while there. To the time when Tomorrow's World did experiments that never worked (mind you I am glad to see Adam Hart-Davis on TW now) and Heinz Wolf and the get egg race.

Them were the days when TV were worth it ;-)

Cheers Al

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Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Wilf also used to appear on "Eureka!" - the programme that brought us the history of great inventions. He had a slot at the end where he'd show off his inventions. It was in this way I learned that when you see seagulls stamping on the ground in a field, they are simulating the effect of heavy rain and trying to get the worms to come to the surface. I have no idea if this is true, but it was the basis of Wilf's tricycle adapted for worm-charming...

Embra

--------------------
I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.

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wee wifey
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ahhh, but you'll never beat Johnny Ball for his ability to explain all! [Big Grin]

little miss "think of a number...."

--------------------
once known as little miss

"I don't Pretend to be an ordinary Housewife" Elizabeth Taylor

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Animal or god?
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posted 28 July 2002 04:00 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--- Signs Of The Times: ---

"Flight by Heavier-than-Air Craft is impossible"
( Lord Kelvin )

"Aerial flight is one of that class of problems with which Man will never be able to cope."
( Simon Newcomb )

"The (flying) machines will eventually be fast; they will be used in sport -- but they should not be thought of as commercial carriers."
( Octave Chanute, 1910)

"Railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 mph by engines which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort through the countryside, setting fire to the crops, scaring the livestock, and frightening women and children.
. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed--"
( Martin Van Buren )

"Rail Travel at such high speeds is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia."
( Dr. Dionysius Lardner (1793-1859))
-------------------------

Isn't this much like what people say about time travel and warp speed?

JK "I wonder" Will

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