Skip to comments.First in Flight?
Posted on 10/15/2012 9:41:50 AM PDT by ThinkingBuddha
Were the Wright brothers really the first human beings to fly?
The short answer, of course, is no. That honor goes to Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and (perhaps) the Marquis d'Arlandes, who were lifted by hot-air balloon in 1783. Is the real question, then, whether the Wrights were the first to fly a heavier-than-air craft? Not exactly. Before the Wrights took off in the Flyer, they had gained experience with unpowered gliders, following the example of other pioneering aviators. That is, piloted, heavier-than-air craft were around before the Wrights, some very much resembling the hang gliders now used for recreation. So the question is whether the Wrights were the first to fly a powered, heavier-than-air vehicleor is it?
A quick investigation into the history of flight reveals numerous reports of piloted, powered flight in heavier-than-air vehicles before the Wright brothers' success. A German immigrant to the United States named Gustave Whitehead (Weisskopf), for example, is said by some to have flown in a home-built, propeller-powered contraption years before the Wrights did. Whitehead's claims are dubious for various reasons, and most aviation historians simply discount them and others of similar ilk. But some of the pre-Wright activity is hard to dismiss as pure invention.
Take the aerial experiments of Augustus Moore Herring. After working under another pioneering aviator, Octave Chanute, with whom he had carried out a number of successful gliding experiments, Herring found independent backing and constructed a biplane hang glider of sorts in 1898, which included a small compressed-air engine. Herring first flew this powered, heavier-than-air craft 50 feet on October 10, 1898, over the lakeside dunes of St. Joseph, Michigan. On October 22, he managed a 73-foot flight, which a newspaper reporter witnessed and described..........
(Excerpt) Read more at americanscientist.org ...
And yet those others weren’t able to accomplish anything with their machines.
It reminds me of people who say "the Vikings really discovered America centuries before Columbus"; however, the Vikings apparently didn't tell anybody.
I hadn’t heard of the steam-powered plane before! Interesting!
The Wrights’ famous first flight was the last flight of the day at Kittyhawk. All the others that day had failed. On the last flight, the Wright Flyer became airborne under its own power and flew 120 feet. Higher and longer flights were made on the following days.
The Wright's achievement was not seen as important at the time by the media of the day, but the Wright's being home for Christmas was.
Similar inventions tend to come at the same time all over the place. It really comes down to a matter of luck and access to resources and funds.
Article to diminish their achievement, First sustained powered flight.
But - hey - I'm no expert.
...except be first to fly a powered heavier-than-air craft, which one of them was.
And truly, the Wright Flyer didn't accomplish much either, except to fly further and more reliably than any HTA craft had done before. I don't minimize this, it was a great accomplishment. The Wrights' accomplishment, really, was to demonstrate sufficient engineering and design skills to reliably repeat the experiment. All the developments in aircraft technology immediately following the flight at Kitty Hawk were based on their design, including the brothers' own work with Glenn Curtiss.
dunno. i kinda favor Gus whitehead myself, fellow nutmegger and all.;-)
I don't doubt they were there. But it was not a discovery. More like a secret. Columbus and the explorers who followed him were the real discoverers.
Lots of people flew before. The landing is the tricky part.
As with Columbus, The Wrights may well not have been the “first” but they were the first entrepreneurs to do it, the first significant doers of the deed, the first to make it commercially useful.
I have NEVER considered the simple act of buoyancy to be “flight”.
The Vikings attempted settling in Newfoundland but failed. However the first southern Europeans didn’t do so hot either. What the southern Europeans did do was keep trying.
Obama invented the airplane with a windmill on top of it. Didn’t work though.
There was literally no room in N.America for the Vikings settle. By the time other Europans started colonizing in the 17th century 80% of the human population had died off due to old world diseases. Plenty of room then.
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