The forgotten father of flight

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Marcus
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The forgotten father of flight

Post by Marcus » 05 Jul 2003 11:20

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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3042182.stm

/Marcus

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Eightball
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Post by Eightball » 05 Jul 2003 15:26

I did not know that.

Yngwie J.
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Post by Yngwie J. » 05 Jul 2003 19:32

I actually saw a replica of the Cayley Glider at the Yorkshire Air Museum just a week ago. An amazing construction.

The picture shows the replica in the air.
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Aufklarung
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Post by Aufklarung » 05 Jul 2003 21:15

I always knew the Wright Bros did not invent (as some would have us believe) the Airplane but were the first to attain a documented powered flight.
Thanx for the data on the inventor of manned flight.

regards
A :)

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Victor
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Post by Victor » 06 Jul 2003 07:08

True, but they were not the first ones to take off like a real airplane. They had a catapult.

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Ken McCanliss
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Leonardo Da Vinci

Post by Ken McCanliss » 07 Jul 2003 16:12

We stand on the shoulders of giants; Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the first.

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 07 Jul 2003 17:07

We British have tendency of forgetting that our guys invented quite a few things, such as the computer etc.


Oh well!


Thanks Marcus.



regards,

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davethelight
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Post by davethelight » 12 Jul 2003 11:39

I watched a documentary about ten years ago (so my memory is a little hazy on this one), and to my recollection it was about a man in New Zealand who achieved powered filight in 1903 or 1904, just a few weeks after the Wright Brothers, but, having just been beaten by the Wright brothers, he has been almost completely forgotten by history (which shows by the fact that I have forgotten his name :lol: )
The thing which came across as truly remarkable was that he designed and built the entire aircraft by himself, not just the airframe, the actual engine as well, he made the whole lot. Beats me how he was able to do that, but he did.
The sad part of the storey was that he was initially unaware that the Wright brothers had already won the race and so he thought, for a short time, that he was the first man to acheived powered, controlled flight in a heavier than air machine.
In some ways I think his acheivement was more remarkeable than that of the Wright brothers.
Anyone else ever here anything about this aviation pioneer from New Zealand?

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Von_Mannteufel
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Post by Von_Mannteufel » 14 Aug 2003 08:30

I saw a program in history channel talking about an american who built a flying machine in 1902, maybe you americans know hist name, but was forgoten by history since he had no big cover of the media.

Yngwie J.
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Post by Yngwie J. » 16 Aug 2003 00:06

davethelight wrote :

I watched a documentary about ten years ago (so my memory is a little hazy on this one), and to my recollection it was about a man in New Zealand who achieved powered filight in 1903 or 1904, just a few weeks after the Wright Brothers, but, having just been beaten by the Wright brothers, he has been almost completely forgotten by history


You are probably thinking of Richard William Pearse. He made an attempt on powered flight in Mars 1904. He wrote himself, in 1915, that the attemtp had been unsuccessful. And research on Pearses patent application ( from 1906 ) has shown that the aircraft could not had taken to the air unaided.

I did however see a documentary myself, a couple of years ago, about two brothers from New Zealand ( again ) who apparently should have successfully achieved powered flight before the Wright brothers. I can´t remember their names however. :roll:

Yngwie

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Von_Mannteufel
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Post by Von_Mannteufel » 16 Aug 2003 05:36

On the documentary i've seen they rebuilt the plane and it did fly. Maybe we're not talking about the same guy.

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Juha Tompuri
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Post by Juha Tompuri » 17 Aug 2003 10:08


Gwynn Compton
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Post by Gwynn Compton » 19 Aug 2003 01:03

Richard Pierce (Pearse?) was believed to have flown before the Wright brothers, but the attempt has never been verified as far as I'm aware. And from memory, nobody is sure where he hid his plane.

Gwynn

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