Oldest Aircraft

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

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  1. Sep 12, 2013 #61

    Dana

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    One other reason to choose a steady breeze to fly it in is to reduce the groundspeed, softening any potential crash.

    One amusing side note I once came across in their correspondence (I haven't been able to find it since): After their last successful flight, they were considering attempting a further flight down the beach. Apparently they were going to have lunch at a house down there, perhaps the lifesaving station, I don't remember. If the wind hadn't destroyed the plane just then it might have been the first $100 hamburger... :)

    Dana

    When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities.
     
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  2. Sep 12, 2013 #62

    Topaz

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    And you continue to miss the point that it just doesn't matter. Dana has already addressed it far better than I in post #47 of this thread, so I don't see the point of continuing here. And no, the Wrights had a viable aircraft with full (or at least sufficient) control on December 17th, 1903. The fourth flight of the day was pushing a quarter-mile. It's not like they were shot out of a cannon.

    And just for giggles and grins, let's go ahead and entertain your notion that the Wright's flights in 1903 weren't "really" flights somehow. What then? That would make the next confirmed flights the "real" first-flight in the world. And those next flights were made by... The Wrights, in 1904 at Huffman Pasture with the Flyer II. And yes, before you jump in with "No! Catapult!", they made quite a number of flights there without any form of takeoff aid. One of over 1,400 ft. However, the track required ("hundreds of feet long" - much like a modern runway, you'll note) and the confines of the pasture made that dangerous and prone to problems, so they adopted the catapult to shorten the takeoff run.

    So even if your theory were true, and even if taking off into the wind somehow mattered (and neither is the case), it doesn't change anything. The Wrights were the first to fly an airplane. The world has already accepted that and moved on. Please join us.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  3. Sep 12, 2013 #63

    Autodidact

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    To me, the Wrights deserve the title because they did such a good job. Quite a few others were very close even in 1903, but the Wrights documented their work so well and two years after an excellent start they had improved their invention to the point that they were doing circles and figure eights above Huffman Prairie for more than a half hour at a time. And then they were able to take two years off and still travel to France after that and demonstrate a clearly superior state of the art over what anyone else was doing.

    It is worth noting that only a few months after their European demonstrations the others had completely caught up as if all they had to do was make a few adjustments here and there...
     
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  4. Sep 12, 2013 #64

    Aerowerx

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    Hmmm. So I guess Navy pilots aren't really flying?;)
     
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  5. Sep 12, 2013 #65

    fastaviationdata

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    Sorry if the question is not complete guys. What i mean is the oldest existing aircraft today. Is it the Wright Flyer?
     
  6. Sep 12, 2013 #66

    autoreply

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    A few of the Bleriots (version?) are still in existence, one flying afaik. Over 100 years old.

    The original Fokker Spin can be seen in our Rijksmuseum They flew it around the St Bavo Church in Haarlem (1910 afaik)
     
  7. Sep 12, 2013 #67

    BBerson

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    I think the original Wright Flyer is in the Smithsonian collection.
    It went to Europe for a while.... That is another story.
     
  8. Sep 12, 2013 #68

    Topaz

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    The original 1903 Wright Flyer is in the Smithsonian Air & Space museum in Washington D.C., currently as part of a special exhibition on the Wrights.

    http---airandspace.si.edu-webimages-collections-full-A19610048000CP15.jpg

    Until moved for that exhibition, it was hanging in the main entrance with Lindbergh's The Spirit of St. Luis and a flight spare of one of the Voyager space probes. That was quite a sight!

    As Dana and Autoreply have pointed out, the oldest aircraft that is still flown is the 1909 Bleriot in the Shuttleworth Trust collection in the UK. I had the pleasure of seeing it in person in 2002:

    104-0463_IMG.jpg 104-0467_IMG.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  9. Sep 12, 2013 #69

    ARP

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    From 'fastaviationdata', His question still does not specify if he means an aircraft still flying but I think he has had enough suggestions as to which aircraft suits his purposes best. Topaz/Dana I am well aware of the generally held consensus about the Wrights 1903 flight. I did not dispute that it flew on the 17th December it actually flew on the 14th December as well. However it did so from a slope but does that mean it was not a flight? To obtain records certain minimum criteria have to be met for the flight to be ratified. If the first flight had not happened until today those criteria would more than likely specify a maximum wind speed as they do for HPA attempts. The Swift cannot take off from level ground but is one of the best flyers in the bird world. As it catches its prey on the wing and does not need to land on the ground, it has lost that ability. An aircraft that could only take off in a strong wind would then be restricted to flying only on windy days making it impractical, which is all I said. By 1905 they had improved control and upped the power so making it a more practical aircraft. Other earlier aircraft than the Wright 1903 flyer did fly but were even less likely to meet the criteria to claim the record. As you know the Wright's claim was not always as clear cut and accepted by all, hence the Flyers long stay in the UK before being shipped back to the USA after the second world war. This preoccupation with who was first and obtaining records tends to lose the context and understanding of the history. Best to record all information and not make any one event more important than all that went before.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  10. Sep 12, 2013 #70

    Tiger Tim

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    This is going way off the original topic but I have to disagree. There are no such rules for the first of any exciting new technology, only the future developments of it.

    -Tim
     
  11. Sep 12, 2013 #71

    ARP

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    Tim, The idea of specifying what constitutes a flight were widely discussed at the time and even monetary prizes offered for certain "firsts" like the channel crossing etc. Think of some task in your aircraft that no one has done before or go for a record and then submit it to the FAI for ratification and see how many rules they impose. Of course the FAI did not exist then but other organisations did. Tony
     
  12. Sep 21, 2013 #72

    Aircar

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    By chance almost I stumbled upon a site that disinters the Whitehead vs Wrights etc issue yet again but with a big twist -- it turns out to be an open letter and solid evidence debunking John Brown's assertions of "new incontrovertible evidence" that Whitehead flew first --and persuaded Jane's all the world's aircraft to retract their support for the Wrights as first.

    I find it compelling and definitive (it also explains what John Brown has been up to for the past year and not published his book on roadables --which although full of errors in the first draft at least, contains a wealth of gathered information on the origins of roadable aircraft which would, if published, contribute to the progress of flying cars precisely by compiling the mistakes of the past in one place. )

    John's website is at Gustave Whitehead.comGustav Weiskopf (c) John Brown Gustave-Whitehead.com, Gustav Weißkopf, © John Brown

    the rebuttal and forensic demolition of his claims and evidence is at GUSTAVE WHITEHEAD - What Did He Do ?

    Maybe Topaz is not aware of this source (only since August this year ) and the confirmation of misrepresentation by Whitehead supporters but mostly it is a scathing critique of John Brown and pulls few punches . From my personal dealings with John I am saddened, but not surprised, to see others finding out about his tendency to overstate and misrepresent and his 'salesmanship' exceeding his scholarship in this area as well as in the roadable field where he could have done a lot to further progress had he continued the work of Lionel Salisbury on roadable times and been open about his personal involvements.

    Whatever else it is the truth that should prevail regardless of whose reputations or agendas are hurt . Let's see what other HBAers make of it.
     
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  13. Sep 21, 2013 #73

    Topaz

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    I don't know of John Brown or his works, but the Whitehead "evidence" is based solely upon a newspaper article and supposed "witnesses" who came forward decades later. There is no photographic evidence, and newspapers of the time were constantly reporting "flights" by wildly improbable "flying machines".

    If you look at pictures of Whitehead's aircraft, you can see that the claims are absurd. He didn't have even the slightest idea of the importance of controllability, and was firmly in the "stable vehicle like a ship or a carriage" school.
     
  14. Sep 21, 2013 #74

    Aircar

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    That's about what the site I linked to concludes Topaz -- Whitehead did have a working elevator and was controllable in pitch -- he might have been relying on differential thrust for yawing and thence secondary effect of rudder for banking. As Head in the Clouds can assert --the Wheeler Scout (first ultralight in Australia under the relaxed regulations from 1976 ) had no ailerons and a quite "Whitehead like" wing of higher aspect ratio -- it only used secondary effect of rudder to turn and worked quite well --Whitehead had considerable dihedral (unlike the Wrights )which facilitates this type of control . Of course no hang glider or trike has either a vertical tail, elevators or ailerons yet all fly controllably (flying fleas are much like this also )
    Whitehead claimed to have had some involvement with Lilienthal and his wing if of the same type --he could have relied on weight shift or warping (as claimed) -birds easily demonstrate wing and tail warping for control. Of course hindsight is cheap but it has to be admitted that Whitehead was credible at the least and produced a vehicle that DID fly when reconstructed much later - we cannot know why he took so long to get witness accounts --the photograph that John Brown declared was of him in flight is CLEARLY a blurred one of the Montgomery glider but John has done Whitehead a disservice by dragging his own red herring across the trail . I fear that John has been forced into a corner defending his assertions about Whitehead and lost perspective -- I KNOW that he was unable to admit a completely erroneous misunderstanding about aircraft trim and that he has similarly 'dug in' and unable to see the mistake he has made. He is a very persuasive person it could be said .
     
  15. Sep 21, 2013 #75

    Topaz

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    I think the point made by the Smithsonian article is by far the most relevant: Whitehead continued to build airplanes for several years after his supposed 1901-1902 flights. And yet none of those later aircraft left the ground. Did he suddenly forget how to make a flying aircraft? Why change designs radically when he had something that worked?

    The Wrights flew in 1903, and progressively expanded the capabilities of their aircraft in 1904 and 1905, to the point in 1909 in their European demonstrations that they were making flights of miles and of arbitrary endurance limited only by the fuel supply of their aircraft.

    Whitehead, not so much.
     
  16. Oct 4, 2013 #76

    fastaviationdata

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    Thank You Sir! I also got the info on the other one you posted.
     
  17. May 20, 2014 #77

    mauld

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    This is the Shuttleworth Collections Bleriot XI The World's Oldest Flying Aeroplane

     
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  18. Aug 22, 2014 #78

    haiqu

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    Maybe. "Good evidence exists that on 31 March 1903 Pearse achieved a powered, though poorly controlled, flight of several hundred metres" - Richard Pearse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    That would make a kiwi the first.
     
  19. Aug 22, 2014 #79

    Topaz

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    Except that he wasn't, and the rest of the world has already agreed on this. There really is no credible evidence that Pearse or anyone else achieved sustained, controlled flight before the Wrights.

    Even Pearse himself didn't make the claim. From the very same Wikipedia article you're linking:

    And...

     
  20. Aug 22, 2014 #80

    BJC

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