Among his many achievements, his most important contributions to aeronautics include:.
Cayley's first innovation was to study the basic science of lift by adopting the whirling arm test rig for use in aircraft research and using simple aerodynamic models on the arm, rather than attempting to fly a model of a complete design. In he set down the concept of the modern aeroplane as a fixed-wing flying machine with separate systems for lift, propulsion, and control.
In Cayley constructed a model glider which was the first modern heavier-than-air flying machine, having the layout of a conventional modern aircraft with an inclined wing towards the front and adjustable tail at the back with both tailplane and fin. A movable weight allowed adjustment of the model's centre of gravity. In , goaded by the farcical antics of his contemporaries see above , he began the publication of a landmark three-part treatise titled "On Aerial Navigation" — He also identified and described the importance of the cambered aerofoil , dihedral , diagonal bracing and drag reduction, and contributed to the understanding and design of ornithopters and parachutes.
In he had progressed far enough to construct a glider in the form of a triplane large and safe enough to carry a child. A local boy was chosen but his name is not known. He went on to publish in the design for a full-size manned glider or "governable parachute" to be launched from a balloon and then to construct a version capable of launching from the top of a hill, which carried the first adult aviator across Brompton Dale in Minor inventions included the rubber-powered motor , [ citation needed ] which provided a reliable power source for research models.
By he had even re-invented the wheel, devising the tension-spoked wheel in which all compression loads are carried by the rim, allowing a lightweight undercarriage. Drawing directly from Cayley's work, Henson's design for an aerial steam carriage broke new ground. Although only a design, it was the first in history for a propeller-driven fixed-wing aircraft.
Employing two contra-rotating propellers on the first attempt, made indoors, the machine flew ten feet before becoming destabilised, damaging the craft. The second attempt was more successful, the machine leaving a guide wire to fly freely, achieving thirty yards of straight and level powered flight.
He advanced Cayley's work on cambered wings, making important findings. To test his ideas, from he had constructed several gliders, both manned and unmanned, and with up to five stacked wings. He realised that long, thin wings are better than bat-like ones because they have more leading edge for their area. Today this relationship is known as the aspect ratio of a wing. The latter part of the 19th century became a period of intense study, characterized by the " gentleman scientists " who represented most research efforts until the 20th century.
Among them was the British scientist-philosopher and inventor Matthew Piers Watt Boulton , who studied lateral flight control and was the first to patent an aileron control system in In Wenham and Browning made the first wind tunnel. Meanwhile, the British advances had galvanised French researchers. Developing his ideas with a model powered first by clockwork and later by steam, he eventually achieved a short hop with a full-size manned craft in It achieved lift-off under its own power after launching from a ramp, glided for a short time and returned safely to the ground, making it the first successful powered glide in history.
In , Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris made the first flight higher than his point of departure, by having his glider " L'Albatros artificiel " pulled by a horse on a beach. He reportedly achieved a height of meters, over a distance of meters. The planophore also had longitudinal stability, being trimmed such that the tailplane was set at a smaller angle of incidence than the wings, an original and important contribution to the theory of aeronautics.
A tailless monoplane with a single vertical fin and twin tractor propellers, it also featured hinged rear elevator and rudder surfaces, retractable undercarriage and a fully enclosed, instrumented cockpit.
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It was powered by compressed air. Flown tethered to a pole, this was the first model to take off under its own power.
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Sir Hiram Maxim was an American engineer who had moved to England. It was intended as a test rig to investigate aerodynamic lift: lacking flight controls it ran on rails, with a second set of rails above the wheels to restrain it. Completed in , on its third run it broke from the rail, became airborne for about yards at two to three feet of altitude  and was badly damaged upon falling back to the ground.
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It was subsequently repaired, but Maxim abandoned his experiments shortly afterwards. In the last decade or so of the 19th century, a number of key figures were refining and defining the modern aeroplane. Lacking a suitable engine, aircraft work focused on stability and control in gliding flight.
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In Biot constructed a bird-like glider with the help of Massia and flew in it briefly. It is preserved in the Musee de l'Air , France, and is claimed to be the earliest man-carrying flying machine still in existence. The Englishman Horatio Phillips made key contributions to aerodynamics. He conducted extensive wind tunnel research on aerofoil sections, proving the principles of aerodynamic lift foreseen by Cayley and Wenham. His findings underpin all modern aerofoil design.
Between —, the American John Joseph Montgomery developed a series of three manned gliders, before conducting his own independent investigations into aerodynamics and circulation of lift. He duplicated Wenham's work and greatly expanded on it in , publishing his research in as Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst.
He also produced a series of hang gliders , including bat-wing, monoplane and biplane forms, such as the Derwitzer Glider and Normal soaring apparatus. Starting in he became the first person to make controlled untethered glides routinely, and the first to be photographed flying a heavier-than-air machine, stimulating interest around the world.
He rigorously documented his work, including photographs, and for this reason is one of the best known of the early pioneers. Lilienthal made over 2, glides until his death in from injuries sustained in a glider crash. Picking up where Lilienthal left off, Octave Chanute took up aircraft design after an early retirement, and funded the development of several gliders.
In the summer of his team flew several of their designs eventually deciding that the best was a biplane design. Like Lilienthal, he documented and photographed his work. In Britain Percy Pilcher , who had worked for Maxim, built and successfully flew several gliders during the mid to late s. The invention of the box kite during this period by the Australian Lawrence Hargrave would lead to the development of the practical biplane.
In Hargrave linked four of his kites together, added a sling seat, and was the first to obtain lift with a heavier than air aircraft, when he flew up 16 feet 4. After a distinguished career in astronomy and shortly before becoming Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution , Samuel Pierpont Langley started a serious investigation into aerodynamics at what is today the University of Pittsburgh. In he published Experiments in Aerodynamics detailing his research, and then turned to building his designs.
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He hoped to achieve automatic aerodynamic stability, so he gave little consideration to in-flight control. It was launched from a spring-actuated catapult mounted on top of a houseboat on the Potomac River near Quantico, Virginia. On both occasions the Aerodrome No. On November 28, , another successful flight was made with the Aerodrome No. The Aerodrome No. So little remained of the original aircraft that it was given a new designation. With the successes of the Aerodrome No. Spurred by the Spanish—American War , the U. With the basic design apparently successfully tested, he then turned to the problem of a suitable engine.
Langley's assistant, Charles M. Now with both power and a design, Langley put the two together with great hopes. To his dismay, the resulting aircraft proved to be too fragile. Simply scaling up the original small models resulted in a design that was too weak to hold itself together. Two launches in late both ended with the Aerodrome immediately crashing into the water. The pilot, Manly, was rescued each time. Also, the aircraft's control system was inadequate to allow quick pilot responses, and it had no method of lateral control, and the Aerodrome ' s aerial stability was marginal.
Langley's attempts to gain further funding failed, and his efforts ended. Nine days after his second abortive launch on December 8, the Wright brothers successfully flew their Flyer. Glenn Curtiss made 93 modifications to the Aerodrome and flew this very different aircraft in From to he designed and built early flying machines and engines. On August 14, , two and a half years before the Wright Brothers' flight, he claimed to have carried out a controlled, powered flight in his Number 21 monoplane at Fairfield , Connecticut.
History of Flight
The flight was reported in the Bridgeport Sunday Herald local newspaper. About 30 years later, several people questioned by a researcher claimed to have seen that or other Whitehead flights. In March Jane's All the World's Aircraft , an authoritative source for contemporary aviation, published an editorial which accepted Whitehead's flight as the first manned, powered, controlled flight of a heavier-than-air craft.