Oldest Aircraft

Discussion in 'Classics' started by fastaviationdata, Sep 4, 2013.

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  1. Sep 9, 2013 #41

    ARP

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    Yes Autoreply, If present day ratification by the FAI was required the Wright's 17th Dec 1903 flight claims would be rejected.
     
  2. Sep 9, 2013 #42

    Autodidact

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    Here's a good picture of the 1903 Flyer showing the blade angles. I can't say whether the angle is above stalling with no wind velocity. Wasn't there a story that the 1908 Flyer took off using only its skids?

    Wright-SI-2003-19429~A-631.jpg
     
  3. Sep 9, 2013 #43

    Topaz

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    The static pitch angle of the 1903 props was just above 27°. If that number were all that mattered, it would be above stall angle in still air. It's not all that matters. The Wright's props were very long, wooden, high-aspect-ratio affairs. Under load, they'd tend to flatten in pitch as the airfoil wants to turn nose-down.* Under load, the effective pitch would be quite different than the static pitch, even in still air. The Wrights were taking this into account, after their 1902 research showed that the 15° pitch test prop flattened out too much and didn't produce the expected thrust.

    This means that unless a replica prop not only duplicates the shape of the original 1903 article, but also its exact material, grain angles, and construction methods, it's not going to replicate the performance of the originals, either. It will twist differently - probably less - than the originals. For example, the Wright's blades were shaped from solid wood. Modern practice is to make them from laminated stock, which is going to be much stiffer in torsion. Every single replica I've seen of the Flyer has laminated propellers. A laminated replica of the 1903 prop might very well stall the blades in still air because it won't twist as much under load. Doesn't mean the original, non-laminated one did.

    Don't know about that, but the Wrights were constantly working on their props, just like the rest of their aircraft. The 1904 props were different than the 1903 ones, and there were further improvements in 1905. The 1908 designs were quite a bit different than the 1903 props, as a result.

    *They also had the opposite problem, with aeroelastic effects from wing downwash, etc., sometimes causing the props to diverge and increase their pitch in certain circumstances. Sometimes asymmetrically around the prop arc, resulting in a lot of vibration. It's why their later props actually have a bit of aft sweep out at the tips -they were trying to control these divergence cases aerodynamically.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  4. Sep 9, 2013 #44

    Brian Clayton

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    you forgot inexpensive
     
  5. Sep 10, 2013 #45

    Tiger Tim

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    And roadable! You guys like roadables, right?

    -Tim
     
  6. Sep 10, 2013 #46

    TFF

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    No license required
    No fuel
    No annual
    No hangar fees
    Minimal instruction
    Indefinite TBO
    > +/-10 g load factor
    Take off distance = 1/2 driveway :gig:.

    Most have variable CG and some can be converted to a swept wing with just an exacto. I miss the biplane versions.
     
  7. Sep 10, 2013 #47

    Dana

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    Two points. First, who cares if the 1903 Flyer needed a headwind to take off in the space available (i.e. the length of the track)? My T-Craft required 350' to take off in no wind. With more wind, less space. If I can't take off from a 200' strip unless the wind is blowing 15 knots, does that mean the T-Craft isn't a real airplane?

    Prop pitch: Like any modern propeller, the Wright's blade were twisted. Speaking of "27° pitch angle" is meaningless unless you specify where along the blade it's measured. Spin a prop in static air and the inner portion will be stalled, yes, while the outer portions will be not so much so. Furthermore, even a stalled airfoil generates considerable lift; the drag increases rapidly but while the lift (i.e. thrust) drops off it doesn't suddenly go to zero. There's also induced inflow, so no prop is ever operating in really static air. Thrust may be diminished at lower speed, perhaps not even enough to fly, but it will be enough to start it moving; the faster it goes the more thrust it makes until it reaches its design airspeed... which wasn't all that high anyway.

    Dana

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself. - Mark Twain
     
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  8. Sep 10, 2013 #48

    Topaz

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    Yep, and I wish the people who research these things would work with conventional nomenclature. The 27° figure I got from here: Wright propellers (rev3) It's an interesting bit of study, but they also overlook the aeroelastic effects on the prop just like the replica makers, and their thrust margin figures at lower airspeeds are almost certainly too low by a wide margin.

    Well said. The Flyer had a "design" airspeed of about 24-30mph. In ultralight territory, by modern standards.
     
  9. Sep 10, 2013 #49

    Aerowerx

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    Very few, if any, innovations come completely out of the blue (pun not intended). Instead they are the result of a series of developments punctuated with gifted insight. Perhaps the Wright's biggest contribution was that they used good engineering practice---study what others had done, identify problems, solve the problems, keep improving the product. Yes, their 1903 flyer wasn't all that good, but they kept at it and eventually 'got it right'.

    Hence the quote form Santos-Dumont in my previous post: "To them we are as children." He was admitting that the Wrights were far ahead of any development in Europe.
     
  10. Sep 10, 2013 #50

    Aircar

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    Since the question doesn't specifically say 'manned' aircraft I am going to nominate the Boomerang for 'first heavier than air to fly ' (it's man made so is crafted --also first rotary wing, airfoiled,swept, etc ) --they go back many thousands of years as shown by dated rock ledge paintings (and occuir outside Australia as well so no nationalism here --Egyptian and Indian plus Hungarian types are known )

    I have read that Hawaiins not only surfed but hang glided in antiquity (using woven fronds ) -the Maoris ( their relatives)made high aspect ratio kites with aft tails (like conventional aircraft but modelled on birds I imagine ) and may even have made a man sized one .

    back to the Wrights though ;-I certainly do not belittle their achievement ,in fact I credit them with realizing the need to get some extra help to get airborne when there was no excess power on tap --the RAIL was the ATO apparatus --together with a tiny trolley using ball bearing bicycle hubs . IT ALLOWED them to fly without any undercarriage --as I stated earlier --and THEREFORE to succeed (there were no rules that prohibited such aids but if you doubt the crucial nature of the rail and trolley (sans POWER by falling weight then --the wind supplied the requisite airflow ) then try to fly off the sand ..... that lesson still applies today in the ,now, embryonic roadable ' personal air vehicle field.

    As usual this debate prompted me to dust off my "memoirs on mechanical flight' by Samuel Langley and to marvel yet again at HIS insight in solving independently of the Wrights just as many of the basic problems --it is 320 pages but the full size drawings of his remarkable engine and details of the construction,launch apparatus etc are not included as they are not numbered . He could afford to freely dispense his knowledge (as could Hargrave who refused to patent also) unlike the Wrights but it should not be overlooked that the wrights FIRST offered their know how to the military of a number of countries and were not driven by the purest of motives as sometimes thought .
    Chanute hoped that flight would be so disuptive to normal military operations as to bring warfare to an end as the final page in his book of 1894 states. Marine propeller theory was well established by 1900 just not in inland Dayton I guess - windmills also knew about helical pitch and camber etc --I would need convincing that the Wright's props were aeroisoclonic or aeroelastic by design but the effect might have been known to them by trial and error ( a timing light can 'stop' a prop and show weaving and even flutter unseen in daylight --we found this out using Wankel rotaries in the 80s --their blades might have been inertially unbalanced as well Langley encountered resonance in his shafting and blade flapping.

    it used to be possible to wander into Melbourne uni engineering library and read the actual 1890s proceedings of the Americam locomotive engineers association --with correspondence by the Wrights and reports of lectures --in these Wilbur was supremely confident of the surety of flight by virtue of the square cube law -- at SOME speed it must be possible to flt on a given power as the power dropped as V cubed but the area only increased as1/v squared --basically Paul Mac Cready's insight with the Gossamer Condor.

    Pioneering engineering is to be admired more than just pioneering flying since far less was known and more ways to fail existed.
     
  11. Sep 10, 2013 #51

    Topaz

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    You mean Charles Manly's remarkable engine. This engine was literally decades ahead of its time, and he's one of the unsung heroes of engineering of the period. The fact that Langley's Aerodrome was incapable of controlled flight in its original configuration (the 1911 tests were with a radically modified variant) had nothing to do with the engine developed by Manly. There is little chance of understating how advanced this powerplant was for the period. The power-to-weight ratio, for example, wasn't exceeded until WWI.

    Yes, that was a common hobby-horse of the period. Maxim hoped his dynamite and machine-gun would do the same, as did Gattling, et al.

    Marine propeller "theory" at the time was confined to tables of empiric measurement, not theory as we conceive it today. One could not design a propeller to specification and expect it to perform according to design at the time. The Wrights were the first to develop a rational theory and design methodology for propellers in any medium. Their development of an early form of blade-element theory was, perhaps, their greatest contribution to science and engineering, but perhaps their least-recognized.

    Exactly the latter case. Their theory held up, but didn't acknowledge the realities of aeroelasticity in their real-world propeller designs. This is why they increased the pitch between their 1902 test propeller designs and the design used on the 1903 Flyer. They realized that the reason the thrust developed by their 1902 test prop was less than their theory specified was because the thing was twisting and reducing the effective pitch. They compensated by increasing the static pitch of their propeller designs. It wasn't based upon theory (aeroelastic theory was decades in the future at the time), but they were aware of the results and what, pragmatically, needed to be done about it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
  12. Sep 10, 2013 #52

    ARP

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    "This means that unless a replica prop not only duplicates the shape of the original 1903 article, but also its exact material, grain angles, and construction methods, it's not going to replicate the performance of the originals, either. It will twist differently - probably less - than the originals. For example, the Wright's blades were shaped from solid wood. Modern practice is to make them from laminated stock, which is going to be much stiffer in torsion. Every single replica I've seen of the Flyer has laminated propellers. A laminated replica of the 1903 prop might very well stall the blades in still air because it won't twist as much under load. Doesn't mean the original, non-laminated one did." All of the references to the 1903 props, that I can find, indicate they were laminated. Can you indicate where you found the information that it was shaped from solid wood ? Thanks.
     
  13. Sep 10, 2013 #53

    ARP

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    "Two points. First, who cares if the 1903 Flyer needed a headwind to take off in the space available (i.e. the length of the track)? My T-Craft required 350' to take off in no wind. With more wind, less space. If I can't take off from a 200' strip unless the wind is blowing 15 knots, does that mean the T-Craft isn't a real airplane?" No one is saying the Wright Flyer of 1903 was not a real aeroplane but simply not a practical one. Your T-Craft has more than enough power to get up to flying speed given sufficient distance. With such low power HPA aircraft have great difficulty in getting moving forward at all from rest in zero wind let alone up to flying speed. So too the Wright Flyer had relatively low power and the Wrights did not attempt any flights from level ground in low wind. They had plenty of space to increase the take of distance but used a slope instead for ATO for their test on 14th December 1903, because of low wind.
     
  14. Sep 10, 2013 #54

    Dana

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    OK. I think we can all agree that the 1903 Flyer wasn't a practical airplane... by any objective standard it was a horrible airplane... underpowered, unstable, and fragile. But it did fly.

    Interestingly, if you read the Wright's memoirs, their earlier gliding experiments (particularly when Chanute was staying with them) sound just like a modern bunch of hang glider guys hanging out (no pun intended) at the launch site and watching each other fly. It was only later, after they flew the powered plane, that they decided (and rightly so, though they probably went about it in an unpleasant way) they should be rewarded for all their hard work. They naturally got upset when nobody took them seriously.

    Dana

    Congress shall make no law....What part of NO didn't you understand?
     
  15. Sep 10, 2013 #55

    ARP

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    Dana, I think the Wrights had their eye to the main chance from the off and their subsequent actions show how determined they were to get what they thought they deserved. A pity as they wasted their talent ending up spending more time in court than furthering aircraft development leaving the field open for the Europeans.
     
  16. Sep 11, 2013 #56

    Aircar

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    I think Topaz makes a very valid and possibly even a crucial point about the flexing of the Wright's props --and some explanation of why so few of the replicas replicated their success . It was indeed Manly who designed and built Langley's engine (just as Taylor built the Wrights ) and it was a much superior design --Langley discusses it in great detail in his 'memoirs' including the need for odd number of cylinders -- Hargarve built his own radial engines and flew a number of models using them to drive 'flappers' initially --not sure who lays claim to inventing the radial engine. It is interesting to survey the state of the art in a number of technologies and see how much was being invented simultaneously by unconnected people --the development of mechanics itself is a case in point with Newton really 'joining' up the efforts of earlier 'scientists' and he himself only believed that he was rediscovering knowledge already posessed by the ancients . The simultaneous creation of calculus by newton and Leibniz is a classic example and relativity with Einstein Eddington et alall nearly there at the same time . We should be glad that someone found the way regardless of who .
     
  17. Sep 11, 2013 #57

    ARP

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    Topaz says the 1903 Flyer had propellers carved from solid wood. All the references I have seen say they were laminated. So the flexing issue is not clear. The idea for Langley's engine was probably influenced by Hargrave's design as he allowed free use of his designs. Interestingly on the two occasions that I visited the Power House museum Hargrave's display was not available for the public to see. It seems that Australian's do not appreciate the pioneer that was in their own backyard. Is that because he was an ex pat Brit?
     
  18. Sep 11, 2013 #58

    Topaz

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    I'm finding mixed references on the construction of the Wright's 1903 props. Certainly some of the ones from later years were laminated. The historians who research this stuff seem to care so little for such technical details. However, even if the 1903 props were laminated, my point still stands - a replica would need to copy the aeroelastic behavior of the originals in addition to their shape. Simply having laminated props doesn't mean that the blades weren't twisting, it simply is a matter of degree. From their wind-tunnel testing on scale prototypes (mostly 1902) the Wrights knew their blades were twisting, and they were trying to compensate for it.

    BTW, I finally found a reference to the 2003 replica, that you assert was incapable of flight, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_Flyer#Flyer_reproductions You'll note that it clearly says that the particular replica in question "... had previously made several successful test flights, sour weather, rain, and weak winds prevented a successful flight on the actual anniversary date." So let's lay this idea of yours to rest, shall we? More than one replica has flown successfully, so I think it's abundantly clear that the 1903 Wright Flyer was perfectly capable of living up to its name.

    And, just to be sure, here's a couple of videos of 2003 flights by the 2003 replica. Really rough flights, certainly, but it gets airborne and flies for a bit. Gives you a lot of respect for the original brothers, who got an 852' flight out of the same machine before it was finally damaged in a ground accident.

    [video=youtube;o1mscspl-VU]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1mscspl-VU[/video]

    [video=youtube;kg46QLzO3b0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg46QLzO3b0[/video]

    Fascinatingly - I'd never seen this before - there seems to exist a shot of the Flyer airborne in that last flight. See below. Linked from here, where there is a description.

    WrightFlyer4thFlight.jpg

    Manly was not influenced by Hargrave in the design of the engine for the large, manned Aerodrome. Even the least research shows that he was working from Balzer's source material. While Balzer's original design did not live up to its billing, Manly's enlarged and refined "version" (hard to call it that, when it was functionally a complete redesign) was the most advanced aircraft engine until WWI.
     
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  19. Sep 11, 2013 #59

    Autodidact

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    I wonder, if Langley had been successful, how would the Wrights have proceeded from there? From the control standpoint, Langley seemed to have gone the inherent stability route like many of the Europeans were doing.
     
  20. Sep 12, 2013 #60

    ARP

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    Topaz, Your point about getting the replica props to behave the same as the original 1903 props applies equally to whole aircraft, airframe and engine etc. so a flying replica can only be a best guess at the originals performance. You seem to miss the point I made about the original 1903 flight being in a strong wind. Likewise the wind on the replica flights was blowing at 15-18mph so again could the Flyer have flown in zero wind conditions? Thanks for the reference to Balzer. I had not looked into the question but who knows how far Hargrave's influence reached as his work was certainly readily available, to all the early pioneers, via Chanute. The link you gave is worth reading as it shows that it was not until 1905 that the Wrights had a viable aircraft with full control. Tony
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013

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