• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Firsts in the History of Aviation

Retrofit

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
603
Reaction score
131
The joke falls a bit flat when you realise it is factually wrong, a classic fake news item. You are describing the acknowledged abortive attempts of 14 December, see for example https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/first-flight where the Smithsonisan's bulldog Tom Crouch roars forth on his home turf. He adds (my bold):

"On December 17, on the other hand, Orville took off from the sand flats near their camp and flew into a headwind gusting from 24 to 27 miles per hour. The speed of the machine over the ground was perhaps eight miles per hour, so low that Wilbur, as seen in the famous photograph, had no trouble keeping up. This time, while the distance over the ground was only 120 feet, the true distance flown through the air into that headwind was calculated at 540 feet, well beyond the 300 feet the brothers had decided would constitute a sustained flight. Each of the four flights that the brothers made that morning was longer than the one before, culminating in Wilbur’s final effort just before noon, in which he flew 852 feet over the sand in 59 seconds"

There, I hope I have both attacked and defended that venerable institution enough in this thread to demonstrate impartiality - something I would like to see more of in discussions of Ader and early flights.
Is it an impression or the iconic photo of the "first flight" presented on the NASM website has been "photoshoped" to show an horizontal background (but a tilted personnage)?
 

Attachments

  • SI2003-3463_640.jpg
    SI2003-3463_640.jpg
    116.5 KB · Views: 27
  • 1903_Dec_14_Trial_Ready.jpg
    1903_Dec_14_Trial_Ready.jpg
    82.9 KB · Views: 22
  • SI2003-3463_640 modified.jpg
    SI2003-3463_640 modified.jpg
    221.7 KB · Views: 22

steelpillow

So many projects, so little time...
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,037
Reaction score
496
Website
www.steelpillow.com
Is it an impression or the iconic photo of the "first flight" presented on the NASM website has been "photoshoped" to show an horizontal background (but a tilted personnage)?
They were not called Kill Devil Hills for nothing, as the 14 December image shows. But I believe that contemporary documents support Crouch's assertion that the historic flight took place on the sand flats beneath. Many impartial historians have covered these events in microscopic detail - I have a couple of tomes on my shelf which devote some space to it - and I have never found cause to doubt these claims. One must remember too that they were strong enough for intense legal pressure to cow the Smithsonian Institute itself - it did not give in lightly.
I find historical research into contradictory sources a bit like an Agatha Christie murder mystery - you look for motive, weapon (modus operandi) and opportunity. There are plenty of red herrings along the way, and very few characters come out smelling of roses.
 

Retrofit

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
603
Reaction score
131
Another interesting website:
So, if I understand well this website very detailed presentation, the Wright aircraft was unable to take off under the sole force of its engine unless it was facing a wind of 32.2 km / h, or launched on an inclined ramp or, for the later aircraft, accelerated by its catapult system.
And , the brothers never bothered to put wheels on their aircraft to built-up sufficient forward speed to reach the take-off speed
PLEASE tell me I'm wrong, or just naive.
 
Last edited:

aim9xray

ACCESS: Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2007
Messages
593
Reaction score
280
So, if I understand well this website very detailed presentation, the Wright aircraft was unable to take off under the sole force of its engine unless it was facing a wind of 32.2 km / h, or launched on an inclined ramp or, for the later aircraft, accelerated by its catapult system.
And , the brothers never bothered to put wheels on their aircraft to built-up sufficient forward speed to reach the take-off speed
PLEASE tell me I'm wrong, or just naive.

Neither the Bell X-2 (first to Mach 3) nor the North American X-15 (first to Mach 4, 5, and 6) were capable of takeoff under their own power. Neither had wheeled main landing gear, just skids. This design decision was made on the basis of design trade-off studies which revealed that the capability for unassisted takeoffs increased weight and made performance goals unattainable and thus, was undesirable.

Could this trade-off have also been made by the Wright brothers in their research program?
 

Retrofit

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
603
Reaction score
131
So, if I understand well this website very detailed presentation, the Wright aircraft was unable to take off under the sole force of its engine unless it was facing a wind of 32.2 km / h, or launched on an inclined ramp or, for the later aircraft, accelerated by its catapult system.
And , the brothers never bothered to put wheels on their aircraft to built-up sufficient forward speed to reach the take-off speed
PLEASE tell me I'm wrong, or just naive.

Neither the Bell X-2 (first to Mach 3) nor the North American X-15 (first to Mach 4, 5, and 6) were capable of takeoff under their own power. Neither had wheeled main landing gear, just skids. This design decision was made on the basis of design trade-off studies which revealed that the capability for unassisted takeoffs increased weight and made performance goals unattainable and thus, was undesirable.

Could this trade-off have also been made by the Wright brothers in their research program?

I am perfectetly OK with that aim9xray but Bell X-2 and X-15 were rocket-powered test aircraft designed to explore high-speed at high altitude therefore it make sense to use a mother-plane to keep thursty engine's properlant reservoirs for the testing sequences. But we cannot hardy described those two aircraft as underpowered ;
what really disappointed me in all this Wright saga is the fact that the brothers perfectly knew that their Flyer was underpowered to reach its take-off speed, so they put the 20 mph facind wind condition as a basic requirement and, when not possible, they have to select Plan B or Plan C that were the inclined track or the catapult system.
If they knew that their engine was powerfull enough, why not selecting a long enough track or a wheeled undercarriage (why not jettisonned wheels if necessary for weight consideration).
But NO: only 20 mph facing wing, or inclined ramp or catapult system..... That's mean engine power was only able to maintain flight once the aircraft is aloft, but not to take-off.
And since 1905, every body claim " The Wright brothers inaugurated the aerial age with the world's first successful flights of a powered heavier-than-air flying machine" (taken from NASM website). My understanding of a "powered heavier -than-air flying machine successful flight" starts with a powered take-off, a powered sustained flight (whatever the hight above ground) and a landing.
But as said in my previous message, perhaps I am naive.
And I not deniying the tremendous advance in aviation we owe to the Whight brothers works and successes.
The Website "The Five First Flights" is quite impartial when it mentions:


The myth that The Flyer had “raised itself by its own power” (first put forward in the press release issued by the Wrights on January 5, 1904) was reiterated in Orville’s December 1913 article. The Flyer in which Wilbur and Orville made their first attempts at powered flight on December 14th and 17th did not and probably never could raise itself “... by its own power into the air...” something which would have been almost certainly known to both Wilbur and Orville Wright at the time (although it seems to have escaped much subsequent notice or mention). In the absence of the application of wind or gravity (or both) to assist it into the air, the 1903 Wright Flyer was at its very best only capable of making short jumps or hops, just the sort of hops which Wilbur dismissed in 1906 as being “...nothing.” In this regard, Wilbur’s comment bears repeating, “There is all the difference in the world between jumping and flying.” Applied fairly, Orville’s definition excludes all of the Wright flights made that December (indeed, it even excludes the Wright flights made between 1904 and 1909 which utilized a falling-weight catapult for launch) for it includes the phrase “... had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight...” Mere repetition of the myth of The Flyer’s unassisted take-offs, however, neither constitutes proof nor historical truth.

But even more disappointing are the Wright (myth) Followers who consider everything done before December 1905 as BS, jumps, hops, or in more lyrical stance as " bogus claim (that) doesn't stand up to scrutiny, ( ). There are soooo many claimants to powered flight before the Wrights and all of them fall short in some way or another, primarily because of lack of evidence except someone spreading a tall tale. Supporters ( ) fly the flag for the likes of Russian Alexander Mozhaisski, New Zealander Richard Pearse, Scotsman Preston Watson, German American Gustave Whitehead, Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont and French Ader; take your pick, choose your nationality".

Soooooooooo sad!

But thanks God, I'm working in the rotorcraft industry where nobody care about (or dare mentioning) the ONE who "inaugurated the aerial age with the world's first successful flights of a helicopter" ....
 
Last edited:

steelpillow

So many projects, so little time...
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,037
Reaction score
496
Website
www.steelpillow.com
what really disappointed me in all this Wright saga is the fact that the brothers perfectly knew that their Flyer was underpowered to reach its take-off speed ... But as said in my previous message, perhaps I am naive.

I'd suggest that you are being a bit naive. Technically the Wrights laid claim to the first sustained and controlled powered flight.

First of all, if a wind is blowing then taking off into it has been standard practice ever since. Whether a machine is capable of sustained flight is a different issue from whether it can achieve that with a takeoff unaided by a headwind. One airborne, the Flyer sustained its flight for long enough. Moreover by 1905 they were still the only ones with a machine in sustained and controlled flight - and, by now, certainly capable of taking off under its own power in a flat calm. So really, whether one attributes their "first powered, controlled flight" to 1903 or 1904/5 is at best moot, it is still theirs.

Note too that they do not lay claim to the first "flight" of any kind. Respected air historian Charles Gibbs-Smith has pointed this out before and listed many "first flights" and similar claims of various kinds, but with the Flight archived closed I cannot find the reference. For brevity, and because the Wrights' achievement was such a pivotal moment, theirs is often referred to as the "first flight" (unqualified), and yes, that is all too often misunderstood.

But thanks God, I'm working in the rotorcraft industry where nobody care about (or dare mentioning) the ONE who "inaugurated the aerial age with the world's first successful flights of a helicopter" ....
Again, not so much of the "controlled". And historical verification of some of those early claims seems lacking. I wonder which one you have in mind?
 

Retrofit

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
603
Reaction score
131
First of all, if a wind is blowing then taking off into it has been standard practice ever since.
I agree. And if there is no wind, you push on your engine throtle untill you reach the aerodynamically sustening speed.
BTW, according to Lissarrague's studies, AderI took off his Avion III even with a (1-2 m/s) 3/4 rear-wind.
Note too that they do not lay claim to the first "flight" of any kind. Respected air historian Charles Gibbs-Smith has pointed this out before and listed many "first flights" and similar claims of various kinds, but with the Flight archived closed I cannot find the reference. For brevity, and because the Wrights' achievement was such a pivotal moment, theirs is often referred to as the "first flight" (unqualified), and yes, that is all too often misunderstood.
Well steelpillow presented like that...
I wonder which one you have in mind?
I have not one in mind but rather a long succession of technicians / designers / engineers who each introduced technological contributions up to the first serie-produced helicopters, the Focke-Achgelis Fa-223 & Sikorsky S-47.
Perhaps it can be easier to list those technological contributions (for example Juan de la Cierva: the flaping hinge, Boris Yuriev: The swashplate, etc...) then to look on which rotorcraft they were best combined (Fw-61, Gyroplane Laboratoire, VS-300, etc...)
 
Last edited:

Avimimus

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
1,974
Reaction score
94
May I propose a solution?

Three major heavier-than-air "firsts":
1) First manned flight (using a glider): Possibly Sir George Cayley in 1853
2) First manned sustained flight (i.e. sufficient thrust to sustain airspeed): Possibly Whitehead, possibly 1899.
3) Controlled sustained flight (defined as an ability to fly a circuit and return to the starting point: September 20, 1904 (Wright Brothers)

The whole argument about 'controlled three-axis flight' I've always viewed as trying to game the criteria... particularly as one only needs two-axis to fly well (aileron and elevator for good control... although many early aircraft used the flawed approach of rudder and elevator). The irony is that the Wright Brothers still take the record if one requires the flight to demonstrate a capacity to turn in any direction and pick the location of landing.

Honestly, the first functional proof-of-concept designs were usually drones... so they should be the main focus of records. We should really be recording the first development of component technologies if we wanted to do justice to the history.

Note: We might want to include records for lighter-than-air, powered-lighter-than-air and kite flights. Also, I'm not sure that a hop is that interesting... as it doesn't require sustained flight just being able to build up enough speed on the runway and then spending that energy to temporarily generate lifts. So I left that out. In contrast, I think the first successful demonstration of a soaring glider is a pretty significant achievement.
 

Retrofit

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
603
Reaction score
131
We may add that "hopers" also included "unstable", "unbalanced" & "flat-airfoiled" aircraft unable to remain aloft, even with adequate power installed.
Seconded for the soaring glider!
 
Last edited:

steelpillow

So many projects, so little time...
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,037
Reaction score
496
Website
www.steelpillow.com
Aha! Found my copy of the Gibbs-Smith list: "Hops and Flight", Flight, 3 April 1959, pp.468-470.

With respect to what I wrote earlier, note that "By December 1904 [the Wrights] had made flights of over 5 minutes and done circuits." - a year or so earlier than I had thought.
 

Attachments

  • HopsAndFlights.pdf
    1.2 MB · Views: 5
Last edited:

steelpillow

So many projects, so little time...
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,037
Reaction score
496
Website
www.steelpillow.com
And here is the correspondence which came in its wake, from some other well-known authors
 

Attachments

  • 1959 - 1062.PDF
    437.1 KB · Views: 5
  • 1959 - 1197.PDF
    421.2 KB · Views: 4
  • 1959 - 1277.PDF
    437.5 KB · Views: 4
  • 1959 - 1432.PDF
    412.3 KB · Views: 4
  • 1959 - 1433.PDF
    418.1 KB · Views: 5

steelpillow

So many projects, so little time...
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,037
Reaction score
496
Website
www.steelpillow.com
On the subject of taking off into the wind, Gibbs-Smith notes how it shortens the apparent distance covered over the ground, so the Wright Flyer had to stay airborne for longer. One may set this against the easier takeoff run we have been discussing, so if we wish to take the headwind into account, it is unclear whether we should treat it as an advantage or a disadvantage. Even if we disallow the 1903 flights, their 1904 performance was far ahead of any such criteria.

Santos-Dumont's certified "flight" of 1906 was of dubious controllability - he landed because the 14bis was tipping sideways. Ellehammer's "flight" of earlier in that year shows no sign of having been at all controllable. Nobody else achieved a genuine sustained and controlled flight until 1907. Nor was anybody else to fly a full circuit for some time to come.
 

steelpillow

So many projects, so little time...
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,037
Reaction score
496
Website
www.steelpillow.com
May I propose a solution?

Three major heavier-than-air "firsts":
1) First manned flight (using a glider): Possibly Sir George Cayley in 1853
2) First manned sustained flight (i.e. sufficient thrust to sustain airspeed): Possibly Whitehead, possibly 1899.
3) Controlled sustained flight (defined as an ability to fly a circuit and return to the starting point: September 20, 1904 (Wright Brothers)

The whole argument about 'controlled three-axis flight' I've always viewed as trying to game the criteria... particularly as one only needs two-axis to fly well (aileron and elevator for good control... although many early aircraft used the flawed approach of rudder and elevator). The irony is that the Wright Brothers still take the record if one requires the flight to demonstrate a capacity to turn in any direction and pick the location of landing.

Honestly, the first functional proof-of-concept designs were usually drones... so they should be the main focus of records. We should really be recording the first development of component technologies if we wanted to do justice to the history.

Note: We might want to include records for lighter-than-air, powered-lighter-than-air and kite flights. Also, I'm not sure that a hop is that interesting... as it doesn't require sustained flight just being able to build up enough speed on the runway and then spending that energy to temporarily generate lifts. So I left that out. In contrast, I think the first successful demonstration of a soaring glider is a pretty significant achievement.

Some minor observations:
1) Cayley did not himself fly in his manned gliders. The first was an uncontrolled glider carrying a small boy whose name is unknown. The second was controlled and piloted by a servant believed to be his coachman.
2) Whitehead is impossible to verify; the source documents are locked away under gagging orders. Evidence for an early steam-powered flight is the story that his stoker scalded his arm when they hit a wall and he had to go to hospital.
3) A full circuit is too different from sustained and controlled to be a useful criterion. A cross-channel flight must be sustained and controlled, but it certainly does not return to its starting point!

I agree about independent three-axis control. Dunne argued strongly for elevons alone and nobody ever accused him of a lack of control. In fact Orville Wright (who was an official ground observer for one of Dunne's flights) was astonished at the control authority of such small surfaces and the nimbleness they gave the D.5 in the air.

"the first functional proof-of-concept designs were usually drones". These are called models not drones and those early ones were all uncontrolled; a pilot was necessary to achieve controlled flight. What we call "drones", with remote control, did not appear until the interwar period - and then only as conversions of manned types. The radio-controlled model drone was a postwar invention.

Of course there are many other modes of artificial flight with their associated firsts - some lost in the past - and I have several books on the subject. One must not forget rotorcraft, in both vertical- and horizontal-axis forms, or direct engine lift. Whitehead was not building simple aeroplanes but flying cars, nor perhaps should waterplanes, VTOL and ground-effect hovercraft or ekranoplans be ignored. But it is unquestionable that the first sustained and controlled powered flight by a heavier-than-air craft was the key revolution that everyone was working towards and that ultimately shrank the world.
 
Last edited:

Retrofit

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
603
Reaction score
131
Aha! Found my copy of the Gibbs-Smith list: "Hops and Flight", Flight, 3 April 1959, pp.468-470.

With respect to what I wrote earlier, note that "By December 1904 [the Wrights] had made flights of over 5 minutes and done circuits." - a year or so earlier than I had thought.
LOL! Thank you very much steelpillow for Gibbs-Smith article published in Flight (and the subsequent correspondance letters) : Indeed, this discussion is effectively a never-ending one (and my naivety is shared by some others).
I will only add that, during the 60 years since 1959, some serious aviation researchers have spent time and money (ok, from time to time State-one) on the subject.
I wasn't aware of the Whitehead and Santos-Dumont 14Bis replicas' flights, but they are very interesting.
Concerning Ader's aeronautical works, I am of course refering to Lissarrague book "Createur d'avions" which is quite convincing.
My feelings about the Eole and Avion n°3 are that both represented wonderfull Jules Verne area's creatures which did reached "sustained flight equilibrum" but were completely unpratical: Far too complex (99% bio-mimetic) therefore too costly, and barely controlable (except by a Shiva-type pilot or a computer-aided one).
Lieut. Binet, who was present at Satory, resumed all:
"My very clear opinion following these experiences has been and still is the following. The Avion n ° 3 seemed to have everything it needed to fly, that is to say to lift itself first and to steer afterwards, ( ) but the Avion n ° 3 lacked a pilot who knew how to maneuver it after having left the ground, and that's the hard point in my opinion"
 
Last edited:

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
5,103
Reaction score
2,970
Nobody else achieved a genuine sustained and controlled flight until 1907. Nor was anybody else to fly a full circuit for some time to come.

"Le prix du kilomètre" was offered by Archdeacon in 1904 (from memory).


In October 1904, Ernest Archdeacon joined Deutsch de la Meurthe to offer a prize of 50,000 francs for the first heavier-than-air flight around a one kilometre closed circuit. The sum represented about 20 times the annual earnings of a Parisian professional worker.[15] Archdeacon and de la Meurthe understood that apart from the Wrights (see below), all heavier-than-air flights had been in a straight line. The prize was intended to encourage the development of an airplane that could turn, so the prize winner would have to fly a closed circuit.

On the French side nothing of notice happened until Santos Dumont 11-1906 flight of 200 ft. From this moment until January 1908, longer and longer flights were made, but always in a straight line.

The Archdeacon price was finally claimed by Henri Farman in January 1908. At least this got the Wrights getting their heads out of the... sand. While they were alone in 1904-1905-1906, from 1907 the French were catching up.
1908 saw the Wrights curbstomping every competitor in Le Mans, July 1908. It was a short-live phenomenon, however.

Then Gabriel Voisin started the controversy for the exact reasons stated in that thread

- the Wright Flyer used a catapult / counterweight

- Ader had not

And voisin stuck with that gun until his death, in the early 60's. Personnally I've never bought in that controversy nor on Voisin, for the two reasons I exposed in the other thread
- the Wrights self-funded and persisted, Ader was crushed after 1897 when the Army gave up
- the Wrights managed controlled flight, Ader did not

Also I'm not a great fan of chauvism / nationalism, and Voisin was packed full with it.

Whitehead 1899 flight

Fantasy. Never happened. 1901 and 1902 - we don't know. But I'm not really convinced. The whole controversy got restarted in 1935 - 8 years after Whitehead death and 30 years after the facts. Plus Whitehead wife (his wife, damn it) didn't remembered anything.
 
Last edited:

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
5,103
Reaction score
2,970
Moreover by 1905 they were still the only ones with a machine in sustained and controlled flight - and, by now, certainly capable of taking off under its own power in a flat calm. So really, whether one attributes their "first powered, controlled flight" to 1903 or 1904/5 is at best moot, it is still theirs.

Here is my own take as "how the controversy started".

I would say, the celebration of the December 17, 1903 flight is misleading.

Pros
It was the first powered flight of the Wrights, WHO SOON THEREAFTER BUT NOT THAT DAY (1904 or 1905, still well ahead of the french) ACHIEVED CONTROLLED SUSTAINED FLIGHT

Cons
This tickled Gabriel Voisin chauvinism and nationalism when the Wrights come in 1908 and basically said "screw Santos Dumont and screw Farman, we did all this by 1904-1905".
And then Voisin found TWO STRAWMANS (yes, two freakkin' strawman) to screw the Wrights.

STRAWMAN-1 "You used a catapult. This is unfair. Santos Dumont and Farman did not, in 1906-1908.
STRAWMAN-2 "Oh, and by the way, neither did Ader, in 1890."

In the process, Voisin conveniently ignored what I quoted from Steelpillow (Moreover- ).

That's how the controversy started right from July 1908 in Le Mans, really. Voisin stocked it like crazy.

Then what happened on the US side ? they looked for the earliest date the Wright had flown with an engine. Well, that December 17, 1903.

The problem in picking that date (here's to you, retrofit)

The flights done on december 17, 1903 had little value except "they were the first powered flight by the Wrights."
Why ?
- these flights were uncontrolled
- maybe (maybe) someone had [lift-off in a straight line like the Wrights that day], on a LONGER DISTANCE before
(Ader in 1890 ?)
yet without a catapult !

That was the core of Voisin argument against the Wrights and for Ader being first.

Why ? because in Le Mans, July 1908 the Wrights crushed every record done by Santos Dumont and Farman in 1906-1908 Then Voisin simply changed horse and started pushing for Ader being first "because, look, the Wrights are cheaters !"

As I said, this completely fails to mention the Wrights 1904-05-06-07 achievements.

So maybe the right way to screw the controversy would be to celebrate the Wrights, not December 17, 1903 BUT first controlled flights in 1904 or 1905.
This would not screw the Wrights in any way since
- They crushed Ader achievements from this moment on
- The French achieved nothing significant until November 1906 and Santos Dumont.
 
Last edited:

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
5,103
Reaction score
2,970
The crux of the Voisin-Ader-Wright controversy relates to 1906-1907 era. Despite Ferber and Archedeacon being aware of the Wrights (but maybe only vaguely) the French were mordicus convinced, Santos Dumont had done it. First flight.

The Wrights were too secrete and paranoids, they feared of being robbed and hopped for a very juicy pattern on their machine.
When they finally reacted to French progresses, in 1908, the controversy erupted. As I said above, Voisin never admitted France (and himself, and Farman) and been beaten. Maybe he could tolerate a gentleman like Santos Dumont getting the first liftoff ahead of him.
But controlled flight ? NO WAY. Farman had achieved it in January 1908.

Voisin arguments centered on the following arguments

- the Wrights were not the first because Ader liftoff before them, and without a catapult

- even if they achieved controlled flight three years before us (Farman and Voisin) this has no value for two reasons
Point a) they used a catapult
Point b) All flights made in France from Santos Dumont were duly recorded.

And he concluded
"The Wright recorded nothing, no record, plus the catapult... or maybe because they were cheating, with the catapult".

That's how Voisin stocked the flames. You guess, the Wrights were incensed.
 

Avimimus

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
1,974
Reaction score
94
3) Controlled sustained flight (defined as an ability to fly a circuit and return to the starting point: September 20, 1904 (Wright Brothers)

3) A full circuit is too different from sustained and controlled to be a useful criterion. A cross-channel flight must be sustained and controlled, but it certainly does not return to its starting point!

I largely agree with what you wrote... so I thought I'd just zero-in on this threshold. The nice thing about landing at the starting point is it requires some precision and also to turn to all four points (which means dealing with cross-winds). So, it does show a degree of control that a semi-straight-line flight doesn't have to. I can also think of a lot of straight line flights which were under control but had an insufficient margin of control to be useful, and where a sudden gust could've lead to something of a disaster.

On the other hand, perhaps a circuit is too simple! Perhaps the criteria could be refined to being able to arbitrarily pick a point of landing...? This (would usually) require an ability to turn in any direction - with more than one turn required, and reasonably good control of altitude... This makes it a pretty good indication of controlled flight.

I also think that a lot of pilots would agree that being able to land is a more important step than having the power-to-drage and lift ratios required to get airborne.
 

steelpillow

So many projects, so little time...
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,037
Reaction score
496
Website
www.steelpillow.com
perhaps a circuit is too simple! Perhaps the criteria could be refined
On the contrary. The simpler and more general the better. The criteria for control are not, and should not, be directly related to any particular flightpath. In fact they are unstated and left to the expert judgement of those qualified to consider the case. Sustained flight is just a matter of distance travelled.
 
Top