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Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

Old 03-18-2013, 06:24 PM
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abufletcher
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Default Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

There a new claim (by an Australian aviation historian) that the Wright Bros weren't the first to fly. Rather than honor should belong to Gustav Weisskopf ("Whitehead") who was widely reported in newspapers around the globe to have flown in 1901.

http://www.gustave-whitehead.com/his...hoto-analysis/

http://whitehead-gustave.com/home.html

What do you all think?
Old 03-18-2013, 06:59 PM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

no true photo of it that can be seen so im all for the wright bros
Old 03-18-2013, 07:20 PM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

This is old "news." 

I remember a program that built a replica of Whiteheads plane and flew it successfully, albeit with a modern engine and a experienced pilot. That program only proved to me that the Wrights were head and shoulders above the rest. Not only did they build a truly flyable 3 axis controllable airframe, but they mated it with an engine and launching system capable of getting it airborne and keeping it there (for increasingly longer periods of time), picked a geographic area of suitable winds and finally they taught themselves to fly it. Whitehead maybe had one of those components. 

For my money Glenn Curtiss had infinitely more long term contributions to man carrying powered flight, but who did it first? The Wright Brothers, end of story.

Whit

Old 03-18-2013, 07:44 PM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

A lot depends on how strict we are with the phrase "powered flight." If we just mean the first person to get a man-carrying glider with some type of engine up in the air for any "sustained" period of time (gliding down off a cliff doesn't count) then I might be willing to go with the Whitehead claim. If we add in something like "controlled" flight, then the Wright flyer was clearly a more advanced machine.

I think for me the strongest argument for the Whitehead claim is that it was widely reported in newspapers all over the world. Of course, that can be a simple case of "re-tweeting" false information.
Old 03-18-2013, 07:58 PM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

I find it interesting that the Wright Brothers tried to keep all there designs secret fearing they would be stolen. This may have prevented them from being a successful aircraft manufacture like Boeing.
Old 03-18-2013, 09:05 PM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

Where the Wrights win the day is because they had positive control of their aircraft. Everything else was just a Lilienthal copy. Langley would not recognize the Wrights accomplishments, and being the head of the Smithsonian, claimed it for himself. What is flight? remaining buoyant for a few seconds or having control? if it is just air time, Lilienthal wins, who cares if it has an engine, but during the day they were all trying to figure out how to drive around the air not just ride it out. When the Wrights went to Paris, the reaction from all the aircraft designers were, "Aw crap." Europe had not gone any further than uncontrolled hopping, and just by that reaction, it was a consensus that they won.
Old 03-18-2013, 09:10 PM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

It was a very tight race for "first manned flight." In the 1890's a kite-maker from my area, who the Japanese call the "Father of Flight," Chuuhachi Ninomiya, designed an odd curved wing, sequiplane aircraft but was unable to convince the Japanese military to loan him an engine for it. A clubmate built a small model of it with a small Saito engine and it did fly...just barely. Curiously, Ninomiya's manned design was inspired by insects rather than birds. But he also build flex-tail glider (models) resembling a crow.

And, of course, there were many other "contestants" in the First-to-Fly race.
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:26 PM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

I think the Wright brothers deserve quite a bit of credit for perfecting the propeller’s use in air and for conducting their own flying trials, documenting and promoting their efforts, starting a flying school and interesting the government in flying. Unfortunately, they also appear to have done quite a lot of unsavory maneuvering to sue, plagiarize patents, take undeserved credit, spy on and then discredit other experimenters. Then there is the matter of what can only be described as blackmail to permit the Smithsonian to display their plane. If that isn’t bad enough they tied up other experimenters with litigation in their untiring efforts to claim all credit, (and profit), for being the first to fly. They’re legal wrangling with Curtiss over the invention of the aileron, claiming it was an infringement of their wing-warping patent and not a significant improvement, went on for years and took advantage of the court’s ignorance of aeronautical mechanisms. They had a powerful ally in their benefactor, Dr. Langley, who on numerous occasions unscrupulously betrayed the requested confidence of John Montgomery by feeding them the results of his gliding, control and stability experiments. There are some who claim the Wright’s visited Whitehead’s shop and rumors persist they tried to purchase a Whitehead engine and only had their mechanic , Charles Taylor, construct one when Whitehead was unable to take their order. They later would deny even knowing about him even though he was a respected engine builder of the period. There also seems to be some suspicion the Curtiss V-8 engine that powered the “Silver Dart”, the first plane to fly in Canada, was actually a purchased Whitehead engine ? It’s probably safe to say there’re persistent legal maneuvering cost the United States the lead in aircraft development in the years before WWI. I find it especially suspicious that so many famous authors have written so much contradictory and false innuendo about him in their efforts to praise the brothers. It’s actually quite easy to find some of them attempting to discredit the “agreement” between the Smithsonian and the Wright’s. Considering so much early flying was conducted in a circus atmosphere by people charging admittance to see them perform at the fairgrounds, it’s not hard to understand that two straight-laced minister’s sons would distance themselves from motorcycle racers and sideshow performers.

Before the Wright’s Flew by Stella Randolph
Quest for Flight by Craig S. Harwood & Gary B. Fogel

http://www.zoominfo.com/#!search/profile/person?personId=1181117688&targetid=profile
http://www.wright-brothers.org/Histo...g/June_Bug.htm
Old 03-18-2013, 10:51 PM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

ORIGINAL: denoferth
They’re legal wrangling with Curtiss over the invention of the aileron, claiming it was an infringement of their wing-warping patent and not a significant improvement, went on for years and took advantage of the court’s ignorance of aeronautical mechanisms.
Sounds like Apple's attempts to claim exclusive patents to "round corners" on their smartphones.
Old 03-19-2013, 02:14 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

Although it is possible that Gustave may have flown before the Wrights (no relation btw) it is not documented with unbiased witnesses. There were claims but they were made after the Wrights first flight and were from friends and business associates. The Wrights had the forethought to have several independent witnesses and photographic proof and documented the flights in journals and newpaper articles.

Granted, the Wrights may have at times been unscrupulous in their business practices but many successful businessmen and women have to be in order to protect their intellectual property. Did they spy, cheat, steal? Perhaps. Should that take away their place in history? That's a matter of opinion but for me, I'll give them the credit for the first ones to leave the earth using a powered machine in a sustained, controlled flight.




Old 03-19-2013, 04:09 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?



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Old 03-19-2013, 04:26 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

To weigh in here, I once read an article where they defined the first flight as being (1) powered; (2) sustained; (3) controlled; (4) piloted; and (5) non-tethered (there was supposedly at least one tethered powered flight recorded somewhere, though my recollection could be worng).

There was one non-Wright Brothers claim for powered flight where one of the witnesses who was submitted was actually dead at the time...

Just my $.02

Bob
Old 03-19-2013, 05:45 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?


ORIGINAL: abufletcher

A lot depends on how strict we are with the phrase ''powered flight.'' If we just mean the first person to get a man-carrying glider with some type of engine up in the air for any ''sustained'' period of time (gliding down off a cliff doesn't count) then I might be willing to go with the Whitehead claim. If we add in something like ''controlled'' flight, then the Wright flyer was clearly a more advanced machine.

I think for me the strongest argument for the Whitehead claim is that it was widely reported in newspapers all over the world. Of course, that can be a simple case of ''re-tweeting'' false information.

You are right about the re-tweeting false information. a lot of false info made its way into papers of all kinds during those years. A claim like that would be picked up immediately by all papers. Papers published all kind of false stories about scientific discoveries and particularly medical issues... Of course my grand grand grand grand grandfather MIGHT have flown too... (As yours might have too). But there is a big gap between "might" and "did".

All we know is the Wright "did", al the rest "might".

My 2 cents


Gerry
Old 03-19-2013, 05:56 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

My basic feeling is really "someone was bound to" and it's pretty much just luck and circumstances that made it the Wrights. If the Japanese military had been a bit more generous man's first powered flight may even have taken place in Japan (10 years before the Wright Bros. flight). But they weren't and so it didn't.
Old 03-19-2013, 06:37 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?


ORIGINAL: abufletcher

My basic feeling is really ''someone was bound to'' and it's pretty much just luck and circumstances that made it the Wrights. If the Japanese military had been a bit more generous man's first powered flight may even have taken place in Japan (10 years before the Wright Bros. flight). But they weren't and so it didn't.
Exactly, and in history of science, once a team makes a breakthrough on something, you find out that, unknowingly somebody else was doing the same research, and they were close to get the same results. Nowadays, with the instant gobal communications, teams can actually know what other teams are doing (unless of course the subject is secret for one of many reasons).

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" comes to my mind. If somebody did do a deed, but there is no proof, the deed did not exist:-)

A couple of year back, I was a Rhinebeck (NY) looking at some of the very very old airplanes, and my in-law said: These people really, reallly, really, wanted to fly... And yes, some humans really wanted to fly and some tried their best to do. Some succeeded earlier than others.

Gerardo
Old 03-19-2013, 07:04 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

There are several instances where contemporary reports on Whitehead's achievements referred to photos of the machine in flight being displayed. Apparently, they were present in the local hardware store window, but were lost. 

I personally believe that he was successful, based on the publicity (at least  locally) that he received, and photos of his aircraft, which all look quite remarkable and flyable. This doesn't take away from the Wright's achievements, but I believe that the development of aircraft has been a long evolution, certainly not limited to a specific "breakthrough" at one point. Hence, the "first flight" moniker is quite irrelevant. 

Graeme 




(Lets be honest, though - that would make a sweet model!)


Old 03-19-2013, 08:20 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

One of the long standing issues has been the relationship between the Wrights and the Smithsonian. After spending a fortune sponsoring Samuel Langley to build the failed Aerodrome, the Smithsonian fought for years with the Wrights over the title of "first flight". The Smithsonian had on display the Aerodrome, but had incorrectly labeled as the first successful powered aircraft, which of course (and they knew it) was a complete falsehood. The Wrights, meanwhile, had the Flyer displayed in England, and refused to allow the Smithsonian the aircraft unless they supported the claim that anyone flew before themselves. The Agreement is below:

 "Neither the Smithsonian Institution or its successors, nor any museum or other agency, bureau or facilities administered for the United States of America by the Smithsonian Institution or its successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date than the 1903 Wright Aeroplane, claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight."

Of course this has done nothing but hinder other historic investigations or allowed recognition to other deserved pioneers. That this sort of agreement existed is a bit disturbing, especially coming from one of the most respected historic societies in the world. 

I've got a late 1970's copy of "Model Aviation" that has a several page article of Whitehead that breaks down the evidence. I'm going to see if I can find it; It was really interesting. I know it included a detailed 3 view as well.



Old 03-19-2013, 08:28 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

I don't think I would agree that the "first flight" recognition is not without merit. There ARE rewards for success. Recognition being one of them.. Speculation and unverified claims fill the history books. If the first flight was in Germany several years before the Wright Bros. then why not a second flight? Or a third flight? Was it simply due to finances?
Not only did the Wright brothers make the First flight but they went on to demonstrate that it wasn't a fluke but a proven technology that actually worked more than once! Repeatability is Scientific proof.
Old 03-19-2013, 08:35 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

Who was first to "fly" as it is generally defined, is an immense subject.

There were so may who made contributions that were later adopted, but that didn't happen to be the first to put all the necessary parts together first.

I remember a Flying magazine article from many years ago (by Peter Garrison, I think) about how few of the Wright's innovations were adapted by others of the time.
Wing warping, the canard elevator, catapult launching, and contra rotating propellers come to mind.
They did borrow much from Lilienthal, but much more was their own work. I would consider their development (invention?) of the wind tunnel for testing airfoils to be highly significant.

There is no question that the engine the Wright's used was far inferior to those of Whitehead, Langley, Curtiss and others of the time though.
Old 03-19-2013, 09:06 AM
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There was much important progress during the 19th century but by the turn of the century it had reached an impasse and required new ideas. Investigators understood that the invisible air was full of unseen forces...updrafts, downdrafts, eddies, currents, gusts from any direction, but had no idea what to do about it.

By the end of the century Lilienthal and Pilcher, had died in crashes of hang gliders caused by these forces. Chanute and Herring believed automatic aerodynamic controls were the only answer. Ader, Maxim and possibly others had made brief hops in calm air that were uncontrolled and unsustainable, ending in crashes of expensive machines that taught practically nothing because the crashes did not permit re-testing. Penaud, improving on Cayley, had made stable flying models; Langley made much larger ones. They were flown only in calm air and they taught nothing about control in the air. Other than the hand glider experimenters, none of them even tried to deal with dangerous and invisible forces of moving air.

This was Wilbur's remarkable analysis at the time and he was not only correct, but also saw a way toward a breakthrough. His initial goal was only to make a contribution toward one aspect of the problem, namely, lateral control. He built a kite in 1899 that was fully controllable in pitch and roll. As far as I can tell, this was a first.

In 1900, their first field season in Kitty Hawk, he and Orville developed a simple test of lift and drag, flying their machine as a kite. Amazingly, none of the others seem to have done this. Langley and the rest never knew the L/D of their machines. They just used tables derived from lab experiments. The Wrights discovered that the results were disappointing.
By the end of 1901 they were so discouraged they were ready to quit. Their machine had way too little lift, it had been wildly unstable in pitch, and their attempts to use roll to turn caused what we now call adverse yaw. They corrected the pitch problem and were flying a far bigger aircraft than anyone had attempted to control before and they were learning to use the elevator effectively, something no one else had done. But without good lift and a way to turn it all seemed useless.

In the winter of 1901 they built a wind tunnel and did the most sophisticated wind tunnel testing anyone had done so far. They also developed a theory about the adverse yaw, and thought they could correct it with a vertical fin in the rear. In 1902 they achieved a spectacular improvement in L/D. Tests with the vertical fin resulted in crashes due to what we now call spiral mode instability. They solved that problem with a moveable rudder, and soon were making glides of half a minute. During 1903 they learned to make soaring flights of up to a minute and a half. The best hang glider flight had been 15 seconds. The 1902 glider was the first to make coordinated turns, it was the first to be designed on the basis of accurate wind tunnel tests, and it achieved a far higher aerodynamic efficiency and far better gliding performance than any previous machine. It was the first modern aircraft.

By the end of 1905 the Wrights were able to make powered flights of more than a half hour, fly in complete circles and figure eights, and controlled the aircraft so well they could glide it in to a stop in front of the shed after the engine quit.

This actually understates what they did. It’s easy to say in retrospect that someone would invent an airplane soon, but that’s not how it was at the time it happened. There’s a good reason for the national parks and stone monuments.
Old 03-19-2013, 10:14 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

The reason for so few of the Wrighs inventions being carried forward by others was the zealous use of lawsuits by the Wrights to defend not only their technical inventions (wing warping) but even "Roll control of an aero plane" in any form! Thus when Curtiss tried to go around the Wrights wing warping patents through what were basically ailerions, the Wrights sued him on the basis that they held the patent on control of an aero plane in flight by any technical means! By their logic a BAE Harrier would violate their patents, had it been flown back in time, with its variable ducting of jet exhaust! 

This is why the USA, even with the Wrights and Curtiss, individually let alone combined being years ahead of anyone anywhere else in the world, was totally outclassed by the beginning of the First World War. Not a single US designed airplane saw combat. This lead to the US Government stepping in and combining the two companies and merging their patent holdings into the Curtiss Wright company. 

Note that many Curtiss inventions are still in use today, such as the motorcycle throttle and hand brake.

Whit
Old 03-19-2013, 10:40 AM
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Default RE: Wrights Wrong? What do you think?

One very significant concept that the Wright's came up with was the idea to build their airplane unstable so as to be able to make it more controllable. They even used a negative dihedral.



Here is a link to the Peter Garrison article "Wright Brothers: Little Known Secrets to their Success"

http://www.flyingmag.com/pilots-plac...-their-success
Old 03-19-2013, 10:43 AM
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ORIGINAL: BobH

I don't think I would agree that the ''first flight'' recognition is not without merit. There ARE rewards for success. Recognition being one of them.. Speculation and unverified claims fill the history books. If the first flight was in Germany several years before the Wright Bros. then why not a second flight? Or a third flight? Was it simply due to finances?
Not only did the Wright brothers make the First flight but they went on to demonstrate that it wasn't a fluke but a proven technology that actually worked more than once! Repeatability is Scientific proof.
Exactly. You do not develop an airplane to fly once, and then drop the idea. No second flight? No third flight? As you said, "speculation and unverified claims fill the history books"... Even some religious books too I might add. It just does not make sense, it just was never proven to have happened, in my book: it never happened.

Things that REALLY happen always find a way to be documented:-)

Gerry
Old 03-19-2013, 11:47 AM
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Old 03-19-2013, 12:30 PM
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Good response, Matz (though a bit ironic considering your handle!). A lot of Americans love to hate the Wright Brothers.

I can't believe how many times I have seen it written that the Wrights' zealous pursuit of their patents was the cause of the United States falling behind Europe in aviation. This claim is so common nobody seems to think it even needs historical justification.

During 1911 and 1912 Imperial Russia, Italy, Britain, Germany and France all had aeronautical and aviation research facilities. When we started NACA in 1915 it did not even have a budget or a research facility. In Europe, widespread expectation of war even led to public subscriptions financing military aircraft before WWI. Governments were buying airplanes. During 1913 Russia outspent us by FORTY TIMES, to say nothing of other European countries. That had consequences for their aircraft industries, don't you think? Even MEXICO spent almost three times as much on aircraft as the U.S. In one year Mexico appropriated more for aviation than the U.S. had in six. Don't blame it on the Wright Brothers.

The U.S. government should have negotiated with the Wrights for their patent, which is what the Wrights wanted. Instead they haggled them down to a single machine for the ridiculously low price of $25,000 with incentives that, because of its performance, brought the final price to $30,000. This after blowing at least $50,000 on Langley. When the Army announced the criteria in 1908 it was ridiculed for expecting an aeroplane to meet such stringent criteria. The most successful French aviator at the time, Henri Farman, said the criteria were five years ahead of what could be done. That's the measure of how far the Wrights were ahead of everyone else.

Jim

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