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ARP

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Topaz, The reason the Wright brothers chose the outer banks was primarily because of the winds. A secondary reason was it's seclusion from prying eyes. Maxim certainly built his machine as a test rig as it was experimental and was not just working on trial and error. His propellers were able to accelerate the 3.5 tons up to over 40mph with three crew on board in a short distance without the aid of external power, gravity or wind. If there was no intention that at some stage the machine would go into free flight why did he add dihedral? As I say the power on the Wright flyer was marginal and therefore the Wrights designed their propeller for the main purpose of flying and were aware of "slip" caused by the difference in forward velocity of the propeller and the forward velocity of the airplane relative to airflow. This was probably the reason they resorted to external launch power with dropping weight catapults on their later tests. Had they had more powerful engines, to overcome the inefficiency of their propellers at rest, they might have produced a more practical aircraft or developed variable pitch to compensate. The wind speed on 17th December 1903 was recorded at 27mph not the mistakenly often reported 21mph. I am not hostile to the Wrights but am interested in all of the pioneers. Why are you so pro towards them without due acknowledgement to others working to the same goal regardless of nationality. ("And they repeatedly said the Flyer was capable of taking off in still air. You're saying that's not true, and I'm sorry if I take their word over yours, without some kind of actual information to back it up.") see the following:-
Tom D Crouch states in his book 'A Dream of Wings' page 300 " The winds were too light to attempt to fly the machine...." referring to the test on 11th Dec 1903. He is the foremost 'expert' on the Wright's work so you can check for yourself. For the test flight on the 14 Dec the take off track was set on a down slope due to the light wind. Peter L Jakab says in his book 'Visions of a Flying Machine' page 209 about the 17th Dec " At about 10.00am they put out the signal flag and began to set up the launching rail on a level stretch near their camp building. Because of the stiff wind , there was no need to lay the track on a slope this time. "
 
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Aircar

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**** you Autodidact !! - I HAD to watch the whole video (bloody enthralling ) just to see WHAT was at 55.46 !!! (Waterman Aerobile -- roadable yes and still up with the state of the art sad to admit ) -but equally you could have nominated 20.48 (Cayley using ATO -a launch trolley) or 22.01 (Henson and Stringfellow model flying off a wire (take note Holden!) or 29.01 (Trajan Vuija 'flying car' before Wrights) not to mention (but I will anyway ) the Australians like Kingsford Smith and Hinkler (@ 47.55 ) - I am named after Ross Smith actually (the London to England 1919 race winners Keith and Ross Smith ) -- @49.o The Vickers Wellesley long range flight to Australia -one of my gliding instructors Richard Gething was on board . or 54.39 (Whirlwing landing ON THE STREET outside the Whitehouse -don't get any ideas Holden...) and several other ATOs -the Tiger Moth drones @ 56.35 etc etc -- it was nice that they ended the whole film with footage of gliders and the peaceful side of flight .

Many thanks for the posting AD -enjoyed it a lot.

Just goes to show what an international enterprise flight has been - and still is (witness HBA...)
 

Autodidact

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**** you Autodidact !! - I HAD to watch the whole video (bloody enthralling ) just to see WHAT was at 55.46 !!! (Waterman Aerobile -- roadable yes and still up with the state of the art sad to admit )
:gig: Well, since my attention span is basically microscopic and since I sat through the whole thing pretty much spellbound, I figured someone else might enjoy it as well. And for an airport dependent roadable, the Aerobile is a very neat solution (especially considering its age) as long as the pilot understands the quirks of a tailless aircraft. It would have the minimum amount hooking and un-hooking.
 

Topaz

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Well Marc -if it comes to it , the first human presence on the Moon was Lunakod with "made in Russia" stamped on it (in Cyrillic of course ):gig:...
Actually, it was the probe called, in English, "Luna 3", and it was a hard-lander - crashed at high velocity on the surface, destroying the spacecraft in the process. Yes, it was Soviet. The first manned landing was Apollo 11, unless one is a denialist conspiracy theorist. "Lunokhod" is the generic name for a later series of Soviet lunar rovers from the early 1970's. One of which still holds the record for distance driven on another planet or moon, at least for a few months more until the NASA Mars rover "Opportunity" passes it by.

For a really good primer on Soviet/Russian lunar exploration programs, both manned and unmanned, I can recommend Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration by Brian Harvey, Springer Books/Praxis Publishing, 2007.

I am indebted to Autoreply to add the qualifier about "without external power" --since many considered that the use of ATO was a breach of the unwritten rules --and allowed the Wrights to dispense with the weight and drag of a landing gear as well as getting 'over the hump' on take off (even for the man powered aircraft contest rules external assistance was outlawed because it gave an 'unfair advantage' to getting airborne --as it still does ;) ...
Let's stamp that myth out right now: The Wrights did not use a catapult ( or any other form of ATO) until their 1904 flights at Huffman Pasture, where the limited space precluded the longer takeoff rail necessary in the light winds of the area. The 1903 flights did not use any form of assisted takeoff. The rail used was only 60' long (50' in some accounts), which is an extremely short takeoff distance for any aircraft, particularly one as low-powered as the Flyer. You'll note in the picture above that the aircraft is well airborne even as it's leaving the end of the track. Taking off into the wind, just as it does with modern aircraft, shortened the takeoff roll. No more, no less.
 
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Topaz

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Topaz, The reason the Wright brothers chose the outer banks was primarily because of the winds. A secondary reason was it's seclusion from prying eyes. Maxim certainly built his machine as a test rig as it was experimental and was not just working on trial and error. His propellers were able to accelerate the 3.5 tons up to over 40mph with three crew on board in a short distance without the aid of external power, gravity or wind. If there was no intention that at some stage the machine would go into free flight why did he add dihedral?
I'm merely quoting Maxim. He said it, and it was his machine, so I figure he knew what he intended for it to do.

As I say the power on the Wright flyer was marginal and therefore the Wrights designed their propeller for the main purpose of flying and were aware of "slip" caused by the difference in forward velocity of the propeller and the forward velocity of the airplane relative to airflow. ... Had they had more powerful engines, to overcome the inefficiency of their propellers at rest, they might have produced a more practical aircraft or developed variable pitch to compensate. The wind speed on 17th December 1903 was recorded at 27mph not the mistakenly often reported 21mph. ("And they repeatedly said the Flyer was capable of taking off in still air. You're saying that's not true, and I'm sorry if I take their word over yours, without some kind of actual information to back it up.") see the following:- Tom D Crouch states in his book 'A Dream of Wings' page 300 " The winds were too light to attempt to fly the machine...." referring to the test on 11th Dec 1903. He is the foremost 'expert' on the Wright's work so you can check for yourself. For the test flight on the 14 Dec the take off track was set on a down slope due to the light wind. Peter L Jakab says in his book 'Visions of a Flying Machine' page 209 about the 17th Dec " At about 10.00am they put out the signal flag and began to set up the launching rail on a level stretch near their camp building. Because of the stiff wind , there was no need to lay the track on a slope this time. "
Yes, absolutely the case. Not because of "propeller slippage", but because the track was so short. Just like modern aircraft, taking the Flyer off into a headwind shortens the ground roll considerably. The Wrights, according to witnesses, had a 60' rail for takeoff. There was no catapult on the 1903 flights. We'd consider a 60' takeoff run to be very exceptional even today, and the Flyer was airborne in quite a bit less than that distance in "the" first-flight photo. That's because of the headwind. Let me quote How We Invented The Airplane (Wright, Oriville; Kelly, Fred C., Dover Books, 1953, p.21), an annotated and edited version of a paper submitted as sworn testimony by the Wrights during some of the legal action regarding aircraft design during 1920:

"It may be added that the obtaining of a good picture of the first flight was not accidental. The single-rail starting track was 60 feet long, but the brothers knew that with a wind of more than 20 miles an hour they would not need to run to the end of the rail before taking off. ... Orville Wright estimated accurately what he was going to do, and had set his camera, for another man to operate, aimed at just the right place to catch the machine as soon as it was in full flight." (emphasis mine)
The Wrights were fully aware of the effect of wind on the ground-roll of their aircraft, so much so that Orville was able to predict where the aircraft would be positioned for a good in-flight shot with a fixed camera. You've yet to provide a scrap of evidence for your supposed "propeller stall" theory, and I'm not buying it until you do.

This was probably the reason they resorted to external launch power with dropping weight catapults on their later tests.
Let me quote Orville Wright, from the same source, p.45:

"... As it was not possible to start this machine from the short monorail we used, except in winds of 11 miles and over, late in the year we began using a falling weight to assist in launching." (emphasis mine)
So again, you'll note that neither the Wrights nor the witnesses say anything about the wind being "necessary" for the propellers. Orville himself relates wind speed to takeoff run, exactly as we would for modern aircraft. Can we put this "propeller" theory to rest now?

I am not hostile to the Wrights but am interested in all of the pioneers. Why are you so pro towards them without due acknowledgement to others working to the same goal regardless of nationality.
You misunderstand me completely. I don't dismiss what others were doing. The simple question put forth in this thread is which was the oldest airplane - what was the first airplane to fly, by accepted terms? That's the Wright 1903 Flyer. Period. Full stop.

I'm fascinated by all the early developers. Chanute, Whitehead, Maxim, Lilienthal, Pilcher, Cayley, Ellehammer (Autoreply, this one's for you)... I'm the only person I know with a copy of Alberto Santos-Dumont's book, My Airships in his personal library. There's no nationalism on my part. I'd applaud anyone who flew first. If you guys want to have a conversation about various early pioneers and their contributions, I'll be just as happy to discuss Maxim's (or Stringfellow's) remarkable steam engines as the Wright's discovery of modern aircraft stability and control theory. But that's not the topic here, and this modern tendency to revisionism and to dismiss the people who come in first, and to give "equal credit" to those that didn't - just like giving all the kids trophies (and of all the same size) at a little-league competition - is simply absurd. Someone did it first. In powered, heavier-than-air, man-carrying flight, it was the Wrights. There is no really creditable evidence to the contrary.

I'm also sensing a lot of hostility in this thread towards the Wrights because they didn't, to paraphrase, "give up their knowledge for free, for the good of humanity," and that they had the temerity to patent and expect royalties from their work. If you guys want to judge late-19th, early-20th century values from a 21st-century perspective and value system, that's fine, but that's philosophy, not history. It doesn't change the facts. Whether or not the Wrights were "evil dirty capitalists" from the perspective of a different value system a full century later doesn't mean you can take away or even diminish what they did. The Apollo Lunar Excursion Module was built by the Grumman Corporation, and Grumman made a profit on the project. You can't take away the lunar landing history because you think profit is immoral, and you can't take away the Wright's first flight because they tried to patent their work.
 
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Dana

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Let's keep this in perspective.

The Wright's 1903 Flyer was certainly not a practical flying machine. Far from it. With 12HP for a 600lb machine, it was woefully underpowered, and like any underpowered aircraft, would need a l-o-o-n-g takeoff run in the absence of wind. But once airborne, it was capable of sustained, controlled, level flight without lifting air currents, something nobody prior to that had achieved. Almost certainly it could have taken off with no wind if the launching rail was long enough.

Certainly the Wrights "stood on the shoulders of giants." Much of what they did was refinement of others' previous work, though they did it more scientifically than most others had before them. However, unlike everybody else they made two critical innovations: Wing warping for roll control (which contrary to what somebody said earlier wasn't a "dead end"; modern ailerons are an adaptation for doing the same thing), and the idea that the pilot had to actively fly the aircraft (and must learn to fly it), like a rider balancing a bicycle, rather than depending on passive stability and steering it like a boat or a car. Several years later, when the Wrights came out of seclusion and demonstrated their airplane in Europe, while others had gotten airborne, none had achieved the level of control (and controlability) that the Wrights had acheived several years earlier.

Dana

"An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field." - Niels Bohr
 

ARP

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"Let's stamp that myth out right now: The Wrights did not use a catapult ( or any other form of ATO) until their 1904 flights at Huffman Pasture, where the limited space precluded the longer takeoff rail necessary because there weren't the steady winds of Kill Devil Hills. The 1903 flights did not use any form of assisted takeoff." Tom D Crouch states in his book 'A Dream of Wings' page 300 " The winds were too light to attempt to fly the machine...." referring to the test on 11th Dec 1903. He is the foremost 'expert' on the Wright's work so you can check for yourself. For the test flight on the 14 Dec the take off track was set on a down slope due to the light wind. Peter L Jakab says in his book 'Visions of a Flying Machine' page 209 about the 17th Dec " At about 10.00am they put out the signal flag and began to set up the launching rail on a level stretch near their camp building. Because of the stiff wind , there was no need to lay the track on a slope this time
 

Topaz

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"Let's stamp that myth out right now: The Wrights did not use a catapult ( or any other form of ATO) until their 1904 flights at Huffman Pasture, where the limited space precluded the longer takeoff rail necessary because there weren't the steady winds of Kill Devil Hills. The 1903 flights did not use any form of assisted takeoff." Tom D Crouch states in his book 'A Dream of Wings' page 300 " The winds were too light to attempt to fly the machine...." referring to the test on 11th Dec 1903. He is the foremost 'expert' on the Wright's work so you can check for yourself. For the test flight on the 14 Dec the take off track was set on a down slope due to the light wind. Peter L Jakab says in his book 'Visions of a Flying Machine' page 209 about the 17th Dec " At about 10.00am they put out the signal flag and began to set up the launching rail on a level stretch near their camp building. Because of the stiff wind , there was no need to lay the track on a slope this time
Q.E.D.
 

ARP

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The Dec 14 attempt used gravity so your statement that ATO was not used until 1904 is not correct. Tom Crouch says " The winds were too light to fly " so where is your QED ? "You misunderstand me completely. I don't dismiss what others were doing. The simple question put forth in this thread is which was the oldest airplane - what was the first airplane to fly, by accepted terms? That's the Wright 1903 Flyer. Period. Full stop. " The original question was "the oldest aircraft" which could include almost anything including gliders or dirigibles so unless the poster elaborates then it could be a Lilienthal glider or an airship.
 
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Topaz

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The Dec 14 attempt used gravity so your statement that ATO was not used until 1904 is not correct, so no QED there.
And the December 17th flights did not. None of them. You're just trying to pick nits now.

The original question was "the first aircraft" which could include almost anything including gliders or dirigibles so unless the poster elaborates then it could be a Lilienthal glider or an airship.
Oh, then by all means, lets put credit where it belongs: The Chinese in about 3BC. Or 500AD if you're talking fixed-wing.

Look, it's pretty obvious that, for whatever reason, you simply can't cotton to the fact that the Wrights were the first to fly an "airplane" as the term is generally accepted. Why that is, I don't know, and you're picking some pretty fine nits in order to discredit what the rest of the world accepts as history. A lot of people contributed to our current ability to fly. Personally, I don't diminish any of their accomplishments. But the Wrights were the first to fly a powered, manned, heavier-than-air vehicle that could be fully and completely controlled by the pilot. They took off on those first flights from level ground without any form of external assistance. That's history. That's what happened. Someone was going to be first, and they were the ones that did it. They got there through a dedicated and methodical research program, that happened to be very well documented and happened to produce results before the research others were conducting.

Maxim is a nearly legendary figure in engineering. The fact that his "test rig" wasn't the first airplane to fly is no discredit to his name. It wasn't ever intended to be a free-flying airplane, by the man's own statement.

Everybody gets a trophy. Huzzah.
 
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ARP

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Topaz, the devil is in the detail, you made the statement I just pointed it out. Without a strong wind the take off could not have been achieved with the equipment they were using. See Tom Crouch's statement. So as I said not a practical aircraft. Yes maybe the oldest would be a Chinese kite . Have you any photos for the original poster to see?
 

Topaz

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Topaz, the devil is in the detail, you made the statement I just pointed it out. Without a strong wind the take off could not have been achieved with the equipment they were using. ...
Oh come on. Really?

The "equipment" in question was the track, not the airplane. :rolleyes:
 

ARP

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The fact remains that if a strong wind (27mph) was not blowing the aircraft would not have been able to take off. They needed the slope on the 14th December to take off when there was insufficient wind. The track was very cheap to build and could easily have been extended and took very little time, but they did not do that they waited for a strong wind, why? The wind overcome the slippage as did the rolling start afforded by the slope take off on the 14th. If the slippage prevented flying speed being reach it would not matter how long the runway was the aircraft would not have left the ground.
 
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Topaz

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And so another conspiracy theory begins. :roll:

Sorry, I don't have time for the tinfoil-hat stuff. You and I will simply have to disagree, and leave that disagreement unresolved.
 

autoreply

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Dang.

So close.
I feel sympathetic, hard to make out that distinction with a sombrero over your eyes :gig:
The Dec 14 attempt used gravity so your statement that ATO was not used until 1904 is not correct. Tom Crouch says " The winds were too light to fly " so where is your QED ? "You misunderstand me completely. I don't dismiss what others were doing. The simple question put forth in this thread is which was the oldest airplane - what was the first airplane to fly, by accepted terms? That's the Wright 1903 Flyer. Period. Full stop. " The original question was "the oldest aircraft" which could include almost anything including gliders or dirigibles so unless the poster elaborates then it could be a Lilienthal glider or an airship.
Well, thát's a can of worms. I've followed some of the bickery at the FAI for a while. They need half a page to describe a piston airplane <660 lbs and you can literally not leave out a single sentence without opening up possibilities for "non-aircraft". It's surprisingly hard to make, let alone agree upon, a clear definition. Only mildly bemusing and terribly frustrating if you're seriously looking at world records and those kind of things I guess. Being a lawyer must be a nightmare...
 
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