First Manned Flight

rynner2

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Was it by this chap?

The forgotten father of flight

Sir George Cayley: Unsung hero
As the 150th anniversary of the first manned flight is celebrated on Saturday, BBC News Online's Peter Gould reports on unsung hero Sir George Cayley, the "father of aviation".

Ask anyone about the history of aviation, and they will tell you exactly how it all began.

In December 1903, the Wright Brothers took their wood and fabric biplane to the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Their historic flight - the first by a powered and manned aircraft - lasted just 12 seconds and covered no more than 120 feet (37 metres).

But it was the realisation of a centuries-old dream, and it was to change the world.

Orville and Wilbur Wright secured their place in the history books, and this year, their remarkable achievement is being celebrated at centenary events in the United States and around the world.


The Wright Brothers used Cayley's theories on their first flight
But who now remembers Sir George Cayley?

Very few in Britain, it seems, even though this remarkable inventor paved the way for the Wright Brothers and all the aviators who followed.

If it had not been for Sir George's pioneering work, the Wright brothers may not have got off the ground.

Cayley is the man described by aviation experts as the father of aeronautics.

He designed his first aircraft as long ago as 1799, and by the middle of the 19th Century, he was building and flying gliders.

Alarm

A small boy was the first passenger.

But Cayley realised that only a flight with a grown man would demonstrate the potential of his strange-looking aircraft.

So in 1853, Sir George's coachman was ordered to take to the skies at Brompton-by-Sawdon, near Scarborough.

After his alarming experience of air travel, a shocked John Appleby faced his employer.

"Please, Sir George, I wish to give notice," he said. "I was hired to drive and not to fly."

The servant may not have appreciated it, but he had just made history by completing the first manned flight in a fixed-wing aircraft.

Amazingly, the inventor whose vision made it possible has been largely forgotten in his own country.


Sir George's coachman was an unwilling pilot
"The French and the Americans take more interest in Sir George than we do," says the Reverend Leonard Rivett, a retired pastor who has spent years documenting the Cayley story.

"He laid the foundations of aeronautics in 1799 by discovering the principles of lift and thrust, and the means of vertical and horizontal control.

"The Wright Brothers knew that an Englishman had worked out the theory, and asked for his research.

"If Cayley had come across a lightweight engine, we would have had powered flight 50s years before the Wrights."

'George who?'

But back in the 19th Century, the Yorkshire inventor was way ahead of the available technology.

Powered flight would have to wait for the Wright Flyer with its simple 12-horsepower engine.

The importance of Cayley's work has been acknowledged by the US space agency Nasa, and many other scientific institutions around the world.

But when his name is mentioned in Britain, the puzzled response is usually: "George who?"

His papers are in the archives of the Royal Aeronautical Society, but few museums display his work, and it is difficult to find public recognition for his achievements.

This weekend, 150 years after Sir George's coachman was carried aloft, the aircraft will be given pride of place in celebrations intended to remind Britain about its forgotten pioneer of aviation.

'Understated'

On Saturday, an exact copy of the glider, made from modern materials, will be flown at Brompton Dale, watched by descendants of Sir George and his coachman.

And on Sunday, VIPs will gather and a band will play at the Yorkshire Air Museum, at Elvington, as replicas of Cayley's aircraft and the Wright Flyer are displayed alongside each other.

"Cayley's achievements have long been understated in Britain," says Ian Dewar, the museum's operations manager.

"My generation was brought up to believe that the Wright brothers were the fathers of aviation, but they attributed their success to his achievements.

"After their first flight, they said they owed it all to George Cayley."

This year the world salutes the Wright brothers as we mark the completion of the first 100 years of powered flight.

For us in Britain, it seems a good time to give proper recognition to the Yorkshireman who made it all possible.

(Photos on source page.)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3042182.stm
 
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rynner2

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Or if you want powered flight, was it Richard Pearse?
Richard William Pearse spent much of his lifetime building light, powerful aero-engines and constructing aircraft for his numerous attempts at powered flight.

His most spectacular flights were those made after the turn of the 20th century using a horizontally opposed twin-cylinder engine fitted to a high-wing mono-plane; both plane and engine were built by Pearse using materials available in the locality.
There are many web pages about Pearse (who emigrated from Cornwall, BTW: there was a local news item about him recently, but I can't find the link).
 

rynner2

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Found a different link.
FIRST FLIGHT 'WAS BY A CORNISH INVENTOR'

09:00 - 04 July 2003

Claims that the first manned flight was made by a Cornishman have been revived, casting new doubt on the Wright Brothers' assertion that it was they who took the honour. The claim has been made by a group of historians from New Zealand, who are staging an exhibition at Flambards near Helston with a replica of the flying machine.

Farmer Richard Pearse, who emigrated to New Zealand from Launceston, spent years constructing a plane out of hollow bamboo tubing held together with calico in a workshop on his remote farm.

It is claimed his first public flight took place eight months before Americans Orville and Wilbur Wright secured their place in history in December 1903.

Now historian Geoff Rodliff, 90, who is originally from St Mawgan near Newquay, has painstakingly recreated the aircraft.

He said: "I think Richard Pearse was very reluctant to ever have anything publicised.

"It was only after he died that anything of his was discovered."

Enthusiasts are so keen to prove that Mr Pearse beat the Wright brothers in the race to fly that they have even tried to fly a replica of the Cornish inventor's plane themselves.

It has not proved too successful so far, but they plan to try again later this year after making a few adjustments.

This reflects Mr Pearse's own attempts at flight, which were none too successful.

There is evidence he was working on ideas for powered flight from 1899 and had built his first two-cylinder petrol engine by 1902.

He then constructed, using bamboo, tubular steel, wire and canvas, a low aspect ratio monoplane.

Of prophetic design, it closely resembled a modern microlight aircraft in appearance.

After considerable taxiing on his farm paddocks, Pearse made his first public flight attempt down the main road next to his farm.

After a short distance aloft, perhaps 50 yards, he crashed on top of his own gorse fence.

A great deal of eyewitness testimony, able to be dated circumstantially, suggests that March 31, 1903 was the likely date of this first flight attempt.

Whether or not Pearse flew in any acceptable sense, and regardless of the exact date, his first aircraft was a remarkable invention embodying several far-sighted concepts - a monoplane configuration, wing flaps and rear elevator, tricycle undercarriage with a nosewheel, and a propeller with variable-pitch blades driven by a unique double-acting horizontally opposed petrol engine.

Richard Pearse's first patented invention, dating from 1902, was an ingenious style of bicycle, with a bamboo-frame, vertical-drive pedal action, rod-and-rack gearing system, and integral tyre pumps.

In the early 1930s, he set about designing and building a second aircraft.
source

(Sorted link - stu)
 

mejane

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It always amazes me that pivotal inventions/discoveries happen to occur to several people at the same time. It sometimes does seem as if we're all in a giant game of SimCity... or maybe it's the "six degrees of separation" effect?

Sir Cayley was featured in Adam Hart-Davies excellent BBC series "Local Heros" as the true (?) father of aviation; Richard Pearse is a new one to me - he sounds like someone I would have like to have met.

Jane.
 

rynner2

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First manned flight recreated
A re-enactment of the first manned air flight has been carried out with Sir Richard Branson in the pilot's seat.
He was in a full-scale replica of Sir George Cayley's glider which took off from Brompton Dale, near Scarborough, in 1853.

Sir Richard, dressed in a 19th Century costume of a braid-trimmed coat and lace cravat, managed to get into the air for a few seconds after he was launched down the hill by a catapult.

He had said he wanted to be part of the 150th anniversary celebrations to "protect British aviation history."

Moments after touching down, he said: "That was fantastic. I can fly. That was exhilarating."

Workers at BAE Systems, in Brough, East Yorkshire, used original designs and modern materials to build the replica.

Cayley's glider was designed and flown 50 years before the Wright brothers took to the skies in America.

When the Cayley Glider took its first flight he was aged 79, so his coachman John Appleby became the world's first pilot.

The craft flew for 153 metres before it crash-landed in a field.

Decendants of Sir George, and the coachman, were at Brompton Dale on Saturday to watch the re-enactment of the first flight.

On Sunday, the replica of Cayley's aircraft and the Wright flyer will be on display at the Yorkshire Air Museum.

Ian Wormald, chairman of the 150th anniversary committee, said: "Cayley made a vital contribution to the development of manned flight so we're delighted to be able to celebrate his achievements with such a varied programme of events."
 

rynner2

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Of course, if there's any truth in the stories about the Sonora Aero Club then all the above are just also-rans! :D
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Percy Pilcher

One of the nearly rans was Percy Pilcher - part of a much longer article:

Percy Pilcher's life ended on September 30 1899, when he was 32, as the result of a rapid and unforeseen reduction in the distance between his homemade wooden glider, the Hawk, and the well-kept lawns of Stanford Hall in Leicestershire. Until that moment, the atmosphere among the moneyed gentlemen gathered to watch him must have been one of high anticipation: Pilcher's display, in what he called a "soaring machine", was the final fundraiser for a project so revolutionary that it promised to make him one of the most famous men of the coming century.

For years, the race to design a motor-powered aeroplane had obsessed professionals and eccentrics across Europe and America; now Pilcher announced that he was days from completing one - all he needed was a bit of cash to fix its broken engine. But then, on his third flight at Stanford Hall, the Hawk "came down heavily", in the words of one aristocrat in the audience, the Honourable Adrian Verney-Cave, "with a crash that could be heard some hundreds of yards". Two days later, Pilcher died. Four years later, on December 17 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright coaxed their own biplane jerkily upwards from a North Carolina field and into history.

Almost accomplishing a pioneering feat, then failing utterly but honourably at the last minute, has generally been a reliable way to achieve immortality in Britain. But Pilcher wasn't destined for a fate like Captain Scott's. All but a few scraps of his plane vanished, his diagrams vanished, and just about the only thing left was a question: if it hadn't been for a gliding accident, would the world's first aeroplane have been invented by a Briton?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1096724,00.html

This is a led up to a documetary recreating his machine on Horizon on December 11th.

Emps
 

liveinabin

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On QI the other day they said it was some chap living near Chard (Cricket St Thomas, near Chard, for anyone living in the HTV region in 1980) in somerset. He built a miniture 'plane though so maybe it doesn't count!
 

bagins_X

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Well If were going for the first recorded manned flight I nominate.... Daedalus

Wm.

spelling corrected
 
A

Anonymous

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CNN are running with the Brazilian angle. A book about Alberto Santos-Dumont was reviewed in FT a few months back.

Story follows:

PETROPOLIS, Brazil (Reuters) -- As Americans prepare to celebrate the centennial of the Wright brothers' first flight, a whole country is cringing at what it believes to be a historical injustice against one of its most beloved heroes.

Ask anyone in Brazil who invented the airplane and they will say Alberto Santos-Dumont, a five-foot four-inch (1.6 meter) bon vivant who was as well known for his aerial prowess as he was for his dandyish dress and high society life in Belle Epoque Paris.

As Paul Hoffman recounts in his Santos-Dumont biography "Wings of Madness," the eccentric Brazilian was the first and only person to own a personal flying machine that could take him just about anywhere he wanted to go.

"He would keep his dirigible tied to a gas lamp post in front of his Paris apartment at the Champs-Elysees and every night he would fly to Maxim's for dinner. During the day he'd fly to go shopping, he'd fly to visit friends," Hoffman said.

An idealist who believed flight was spiritually soothing, Santos-Dumont financed his lavish lifestyle and aerial experiments in Paris with the inheritance his coffee-farming father had advanced him as a young man. Always impeccably dressed, he regularly took a gourmet lunch with him on his ballooning expeditions.

It was on November 12, 1906, when Santos-Dumont flew a kite-like contraption with boxy wings called the 14-Bis some 722 feet (220 meters) on the outskirts of Paris. It being the first public flight in the world, he was hailed as the inventor of the airplane all over Europe.

It was only later that the secretive Orville and Wilbur Wright proved they had beaten Santos-Dumont at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, three years earlier on December 17.

But to bring up the Wright brothers with a Brazilian is bound to elicit an avalanche of arguments -- some more reasonable than others -- as to why their compatriot's flight didn't count.

"It's one of the biggest frauds in history," scoffs Wagner Diogo, a taxi driver in Rio de Janeiro, of the Wrights' inaugural flight. "No one saw it, and they used a catapult to launch" the airplane.

Did it count?
Apparently, the debate comes down to how you define the first flight of an airplane.

Henrique Lins de Barros, a Brazilian physicist and Santos-Dumont expert, argues that the Wright brothers' flight did not fulfill the conditions that had been set up at the time to distinguish a true flight from a prolonged hop.

But Santos-Dumont's flight did meet the criteria, which in essence meant he took off unassisted, publicly flew a predetermined length in front of experts and then landed safely.

"If we understand what the criteria were at the end of the 19th century, the Wright brothers simply do not fill any of the prerequisites," says Lins de Barros.

Brazilians also claim that the Wrights launched their Flyer in 1903 with a catapult or at an incline, thereby disqualifying it from being a true airplane because it did not take off on its own.

Even Santos-Dumont experts like Lins de Barros concede this is wrong. But he says that the strong, steady winds at Kitty Hawk were crucial for the Flyer's take-off, disqualifying the flight because there was no proof it could lift off on its own.

Peter Jakab, chairman of the aeronautics division at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington and a Wright brothers expert, says such claims are preposterous.

By the time Santos-Dumont got around to his maiden flight the Wright brothers had already flown numerous times, including one in which they flew 24 miles (39 km) in 40 minutes.

"Even in 1903 the airplane sustained itself in the air for nearly a minute. If it's not sustaining itself under its own power it's not going to stay up that long," Jakab says.

Even in France -- never a country too eager to agree with the U.S. point of view -- the Wrights are considered to have flown before Santos-Dumont, says Claude Carlier, the director of the French Center for the History of Aeronautics and Space.

"There's a strong nationalist issue at play here," says Marcos Villares, Santos-Dumont's great grandnephew. "Flight was a very important step in human history, in the history of technology. Every country wants to claim priority."

First to use a watch?
But that is not to say that Santos-Dumont does not deserve recognition for his other contributions.

By rounding the Eiffel Tower in a motorized dirigible in 1901, he helped prove that air travel could be controlled and a practical means of transportation.

"Just to show that the flying machine was practical is an incredible achievement," says Hoffman, his biographer.

At his summer home in the Brazilian mountain town of Petropolis, tour guides perpetuate myths about Santos-Dumont -- such as how he invented the wristwatch.

Santos-Dumont experts deny that assertion, although they concede he was probably the first male civilian to use a watch after asking his friend Louis Cartier to make him a timepiece he could use while flying. Previously, only royalty and soldiers had used watches.

To this day, you can still buy the Santos-model Cartier watch for only a couple of thousand dollars.

http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/ptech/12/10/brazil.santosdumont.reut/index.html
 

Mighty_Emperor

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The Flying Octopus: The first helicopter?

I thought this was interesting in the story of the earliest working helicopter (a story that to a lesser degree pos. parallels the story of winge flight):

October 1990, Vol. 73, No. 10

Sikorsky's was the first practical helicopter, but a different Russian and a younger Air Service got a chopper off the ground in 1922

The Flying Octopus

By C. V. Glines

MOST aviation historians agree that Igor I. Sikorsky deserves credit for designing, building, and flying the first practical helicopter. His XR-4, the first rotary-winged aircraft accepted by the Air Force, weighed 1,900 pounds and could lift 500 pounds of payload. It first flew in January 1942 and was demonstrated to Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold the next July. General Arnold liked what he saw. "The Army Air Force," said he, "has taken flyers before with not so much gain promised."

One "flyer" to which General Arnold may have been referring was an earlier helicopter venture. Sikorsky's helicopter was not the first bought by the organization that would eventually become the United States Air Force. World War I had stimulated many to explore the possibility of true vertical flight. None had solved the riddle of stability, but the potential of vertical lift machines for military purposes continued to interest many.

Among these were a few officers of the Army Air Service who had become intrigued with the writings of a Russian with a French name: Dr. George de Bothezat. De Bothezat, a scientist who had fled the Bolshevik Revolution, was a big, bearded man with a quick wit and a violent temper. He was also an extreme egotist who once boasted publicly, "I am the world's greatest mathematician and scientist."

In Russia, de Bothezat had gained international renown for his theories about vertical flight. He had earned degrees in five countries and had published two acclaimed theses: "General Theory of Blade Screws" and "Theory of Helicopter Stability." Both found their way to the library of the Air Service Engineering Division at McCook Field, near Dayton, Ohio.

In the early 1920s, McCook Field was the Air Service's engineering and flight test center. Workers investigated, researched, and developed any idea that might prove useful to the nation's young air arm. Maj. Thurman H. Bane, chief of the Division, read de Bothezat's treatises and felt that the theories had merit. He asked his superiors for permission to contact de Bothezat and invite him to Dayton. Permission was granted, and the Russian emigre was delighted to accept.

After de Bothezat arrived in Dayton, Maj. Gen. Mason Patrick, Chief of the Air Service, authorized a contract with him, without open bidding, for the construction of a helicopter. This unusual procedure was authorized because no other qualified bidders existed. However, de Bothezat first had to produce a written proposal to make the transaction legal.

Putting It on Paper

De Bothezat was exasperated by this bit of Army red tape, but he nevertheless submitted an eighteen-page letter. "The helicopter here disclosed," it stated, "is. . . to possess all qualities of inherent stability and maneuverability which are essential for the navigation of any vehicle of locomotion. The helicopter considered is essentially composed of four lifting blade screws identical in size and shape and disposed cross-wise."

The letter, accompanied by drawings and diagrams, further described the principles of operation and structure of the craft. General Patrick was impressed. In the 1921 budget, Congress appropriated the astonishing sum of 0,000 for work on the project. De Bothezat was hired as acting chief of the Engineering Division's Special Research Section at an annual salary of ,000. The government specified that de Bothezat was to produce "drawings and data to design, construct, and supervise flight tests of a helicopter." In turn, the government was to provide engineering assistants, materials, equipment, arid hangar space.

When the Engineering Division received the first set of drawings and computations from de Bothezat, he was to receive ,000. When the machine was fully constructed, he would receive another ,800. If it actually left the ground, climbed to 300 feet, and returned to its takeoff point without mishap, he would receive further payments totaling ,000. The craft was to be ready for flight by January 1, 1922--that is, in seven months.

To keep the curious away and allow de Bothezat and his assistants to work unmolested, the project was given "top secret" status. Work began in a tin-roofed hangar. When the machine began to take shape and outgrew the hangar, a wall of canvas was erected outside to enclose it from view.

Engineers assigned to work with de Bothezat enjoyed the task, despite the Russian's angry outbursts when things didn't go his way. He hovered over their workbenches, watching them turn his drawings into strangely shaped pieces of metal. He spent his waking hours tinkering, figuring, and writing furiously.

The existence of a top secret project right under their noses caused curious McCook test pilots to try to sneak a look at "the thing." Some took to the air to spy on the "mad scientist." At the end of routine test flights, they would swoop low and marvel at the crazy collection of tubing and blades. De Bothezat would shout curses in Russian and shake his fists, but the pilots merely waved back. Several VIPs were allowed to view the machine, however. These included former Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, and Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell.

Toward the end of 1921, de Bothezat realized he could not meet the deadline and pleaded for more time. He got an extension, and he and his assistants worked through the winter, spring, and summer, inching toward the day of reckoning. By the fall of 1922, the Air Service's first helicopter was near completion. On December 18, 1922, the machine was ready for the world to see.

Spectators quickly gathered around McCook Field as word of the aircraft spread. It had snowed the day before, but it was now sunny, with virtually no wind. Just after 9:00 a.m., the canvas walls parted, and de Bothezat's crew pushed their pride and joy to the center of the field.

Airborne Octopus

Several spectators gasped, snickered, and then broke into loud guffaws. They saw a strange framework of tubes and wires built into the shape of a giant cross, hung together with a spidery network of pulleys, chains, and metal strands. Four giant, six-bladed rotors were mounted on each end of the cross, and four other fans served as stabilizers. To an onlooker, the machine was a nightmare of steel and aluminum tubing, complicated gears, and guy wires.

It was immediately dubbed "The Flying Octopus."

Thurman Bane (by then a colonel) had decided that he would serve as test pilot on the first flight. Taking his place in the pilot's seat, he slowly primed the engine. and started it. The huge contraption started to vibrate as the four giant rotors began to turn slowly like horizontal windmills.

As Bane opened throttle, de Bothezat and his crew stood clear. According to one McCook Field observer, "the movement seemed graceful and there was no noise of friction in any part of the machine. The craft began to lift itself a little--an inch, two, three--until it was about three feet above ground. It hovered at an altitude of two to six feet for one minute and forty-two seconds. Hovering at this height, the helicopter drifted some 300 feet with the wind. Having drifted close to a fence, [Colonel] Bane made a quick landing, which was done under complete control."

The powerplant in the "Octopus" was a 180-horsepower Le Rhone engine, later replaced by a 220-horsepower British Bentley Rotary, which rotated in a horizontal plane directly in front of the pilot's lap. Brig. Gen. Harold R. Harris, one of the helicopter's test pilots, once observed that "the Bentley Rotary was a good engine except that it had a bad habit of throwing cylinders. Fortunately, it never threw one while the tests were underway."

The controls were similar to those of the day's fixed-wing aircraft. A stick and rudder pedals controlled the pitch of the main blades, and an automobile-style steerwheel controlled the pitch of the three-bladed rotors mounted above the engine. A small hand throttle controlled the engine speed. There were so many gears, idles, and wheels to operate, said one test pilot, that not only looks like an octopus, it takes an octopus to fly it "

For example, the test pilot noted, "if the engine failed, the pilot had to reach forward to release the stop on the overall pitch wheel [and] grasp another wheel to adjust the pitch of the center stabilizing propellers so he could slow down the windmilling blades. At the same time, the pilot had to maintain lateral, longitudinal, and directional control with the stick. If he could do all this as he was falling, a fast twist was still needed on the main pitch control at the last minute to soften the landing."

General Harris recalled that "balancing the de Bothezat job. . . was really a tightrope walk in four directions."

Weird, but Workable

Weird as the de Bothezat contraption looked, it made over 100 flights and accomplished all of its initial test objectives. On January 23, 1923, it left the ground with two people aboard and lifted a payload of 450 pounds to a height of four feet. The next month, it set an endurance record of two minutes and forty-five seconds. In April 1923, it lifted four men off the ground.

In the late spring of 1923, the government contracted with de Bothezat for an improved version of the helicopter The Air Service specified that he had to redesign the central part of the machine to give it strength and reduce size of the main rotors and make them less flexible. The changes, however, produced no substantial improvements in the aircraft's performance. Reluctantly, General Patrick ordered the project canceled.

In a long letter, Colonel Bane praised de Bothezat. "It is my sincere belief," said the officer, "that your helicopter is the biggest aeronautical achievement since the first flight of the Wright brothers." No less a personage than Thomas A. Edison, who had experimented with helicopters in the 1880s, told the Russian, "You certainly have made a great advance; in fact, as far as I know, the first successful helicopter. "

De Bothezat was keenly disappointed by the cancellation but went on to other projects. In 1936, he built another experimental model, which did not show marked improvement over the earlier version. Even so, he appeared before the House Military Affairs Committee that year to advocate continued helicopter research. He predicted that the chopper "would give rise to an entirely new method of warfare, battalions of swift and silently flying machine guns, able to land at night behind [an] enemy's lines."

On February 1, 1940, de Bothezat died in Boston following an emergency operation. He was fifty-eight. Long before then, de Bothezat's "Flying Octopus" had been sent to the McCook salvage yard. However, one rotor hub and four main blades have been preserved and are in the National Air and Space Museum's collection in Washington, D. C.

Pity the images are broken :(

http://www.afa.org/magazine/1990/1090octopus.asp
 

phi23

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On terry jones' program last night he mentioned a medeival monk who jumped from the top of his monastry tower with a set of wings and managed to fly 200m until he landed and broke both legs. He realised he need a tail fo rthe flying devise to work but his abbot forbade him to try again - anyone know anything about this flying monk?
 

rynner2

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Eilmer (also Oliver, Elmer) of Malmesbury, a monk from the Abbey, built himself wings and "flew" from the top of the old Minster Church until the lack of a tail caused him to land rather abruptly, breaking both his legs in the process.
also...

It is recorded that the English Monk Eilmer built a glider resembling bat wings. For stability he attached the wings to his hands and feet. This did not present a problem as he stood on the edge of the abbey tower. It is not recorded when it dawned on the monk that this did not provide anything to land with. The leap off the abbey tower resulted in a 200 yard glide and a crash landing

http://flightmuseum.com/earlyconcepts.html

also...

William of Malmesbury, an 11th Century historian, recorded in his De Gestis Regum Anglorum 1120 AD:

"He was a man learned for those times, of ripe old age, and in his early youth had hazarded a deed of remarkable boldness. He had by some means, I scarcely know what, fastened wings to his hands and feet so that, mistaking fable for truth, he might fly like Daedalus, and, collecting the breeze upon the summit of a tower, flew for more than a furlong. But agitated by the violence of the wind and the swirling of air, as well as by the awareness of his rash attempt, he fell, broke both his legs and was lame ever after."

http://216.156.65.111/sf/sMonk.htm

also...

Oliver of Malmesbury, an English Benedictine monk studied mathematics and astrology, earning the reputation of a wizard. He apparently built some wings, modelled after those of Deadalus. An 1850's history of Balloons by Bescherelle describes the legend of his experiments.

"Having fastened them to his hands, he sprang from the top of a tower against the wind. He succeeded in sailing a distance of 125 paces; but either through the impetuosity or whirling of the wind, or through nervousness resulting from his audacious enterprise, he fell to the earth and broke his legs. Henceforth he dragged a miserable, languishing existence, attributing his misfortune to his having failed to attach a tail to his feet."

http://www.desktopaero.com/appliedaero/ ... mping.html

also...

Oliver of Malmesbury. This ecclesiastic was considered gifted with the power of foretelling events; but, like other similarly circumstanced, he does not seem to have been able to divine the fate which awaited himself. He constructed wings after the model of those which according to Ovid, Daedalus made use of. These he attached to his arms and his feet, and, thus furnished, he threw himself from the height of a tower. But the wings bore him up for little more than a distance of 120 paces. He fell at the foot of the tower, broke his legs, and from that moment led a languishing life. He consoled himself, however, in his misfortune by saying that his attempt must certainly have succeeded had he only provided himself with a tail.
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http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/timeline0.html
And plenty of other early aviators on the same webpage (and the links)!
 

rynner2

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On terry jones' program last night he mentioned a medeival monk who jumped from the top of his monastry tower with a set of wings ...

I've said it once, I'll say it twice, if I had to live in the medieval times (as opposed to working at one) I could do worse than be a monk. Besides kneeling on stone for hours, most seemed to get by pretty well: women, wine, psalm, a nice library, warm clothes & now, aviation
 

JamesWhitehead

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most seemed to get by pretty well

According to some revisionist views of monking, the monasteries were actually hotbeds of early mechanical innovation.

Far from being the contemplatives we imagine, monks were among the earliest slaves to the machine. Since such a large percentage of the population was in religious orders, the analysis makes some sense. :rolleyes:
 
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rynner2

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CALGACUS03

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On terry jones' program last night he mentioned a medeival monk who jumped from the top of his monastry tower with a set of wings and managed to fly 200m until he landed and broke both legs. He realised he need a tail fo rthe flying devise to work but his abbot forbade him to try again - anyone know anything about this flying monk?

There was a similar early aerial pioneer (or wannabe aerial pioneer) here in Scotland during the reign of James IV: John Damian.

He tried to fly from the walls of Stirling Castle to France - (nothing like setting your sights high), and ended up breaking his thigh when he landed in a dung heap. From the The Scotsman.

Bishop Leslie, writing of the experiment in a contemporary manuscript, began his account by criticising the money spent by the king in encouraging his alchemist before noting that:

"This Abbot tuik in hand to flie with wingis…and to that effect he causet mak ane pair of wingis of fedderis (feathers)." Leslie describes the flight, relishing in his description of how Damian jumped, but quickly fell breaking his thigh bone.
 

Trevp666

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I saw a thing about some chap who was propelled upwards in a chair by rockets which pre-dated all these reports of powered flight.
I think Chinese?
Probably back in the 1400s?
And I get a feeling they covered it on Mythbusters.
But I'm too lazy to be arsed to check the validity of any of it TBH. lol.
 

Timble2

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I saw a thing about some chap who was propelled upwards in a chair by rockets which pre-dated all these reports of powered flight.
I think Chinese?
Probably back in the 1400s?
And I get a feeling they covered it on Mythbusters.
But I'm too lazy to be arsed to check the validity of any of it TBH. lol.
From The DALEK Pocketbook and Space-Travellers Guide:

One moonlight night in china almost 500 years ago Wan-Hoo a Chinese inventor was ready to amaze the world with his most magnificent creation.it was a machine that he thought that would take him to the stars. Wan-hoos invention was as mass of forty seven rockets tied together with strong rope.At the top of them was a sedan chair for a passenger to sit in.

Of course the Chinese had been using gunpowder rockets for many centuries before. They had used invented gunpowder around 300 BC and had used rockets both for war and celebrations…

… it was on this principle that Wan-Hoo dreamed up his great adventure. Dressed in his finest silks for the occasion he ceremoniously climbed into his seat at the top of his flying machine. Wan Hoo could almost picture the faces of the Emperor and his Nobles on reporting the success of his great achievement. But this was to be just a practise flight. At a given signal forty-seven servants carrying forty-seven blazing torches darted forward and touched the flames of the wick of forty-seven rockets. Wan-Hoo departed instantly in a thundering blast of smoke and flame to join his honourable ancestors.

In spite of Wan-Hoo’s sad and he did have the right idea for it is this method of propulsion that our modern scientists used to thrust today's rockets into space.[/quote}

IMG_3224 (2).JPG
 

EnolaGaia

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Samuel P. Langley is another contender: ...

No, not really ... Langley's two 1903 attempts at launching a powered heavier-than-air craft carrying a man failed badly because his designs and underlying understanding of aerodynamics were flawed. However ...

Langley's three 1896 test flights of his Aerodromes No. 5 & 6 arguably represent the first flights of powered unmanned heavier-than-air aircraft for any substantial distance (minimum 700m; maximum1,460m).

This Odd Early Flying Machine Made History but Didn’t Have the Right Stuff
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smit...ade-history-didnt-have-right-stuff-180977658/
 
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