Two years before the Wright brothers

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According to the American newspapers of the beginning of the last century, exactly 115 years ago, 14 August 1901, a controlled flight of an airplane made by talented self-taught mechanic Gustav Whitehead took place in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Whitehead was the son of German immigrants and in childhood wore the name Weiskopf, but upon his arrival in America he changed it to English manners. During his life, he built more than 20 various aircraft, among which were kites, gliders, airplanes and even a helicopter. He also designed engines for them and made them himself.



Whitehead developed an original control system for his airplane, which he called the "aeromobile". The wings of the apparatus with the help of rope could fold like a fan. The designer expected that he would make turns, slightly “pressing” the right or left plane and thereby changing its lift force, as do the soaring birds. Control in the vertical plane was carried out by raising and lowering the tail, which played the role of elevator.

The power plant consisted of two steam engines, each of which worked on one propeller. An interesting feature of the Whitehead aircraft was that, with fully folded wings, they, as conceived by the designer, could just drive on the ground like cars, for this the front wheels of the chassis were made leading, and the rear wheels - controlled and equipped with brakes. Transmission from the engine switched from screws to wheels and back.

According to the memories of Whitehead’s friend and companion named Louis Darvarich, the first flight of the “air car” under the control of Darvarich himself took place in April or May 1899 in Pittsburgh, and the device allegedly flew whole 750 meters, blocking the results of the first flights of the Wright brothers. True, the completion of the experiment cannot be called successful: Darvarich lost control, the plane crashed into a three-story house and was blown to smithereens, and the pilot was taken to hospital for two months. Although the accident was confirmed by fireman Martin Davin arriving at the scene of the incident, supporters of the Wright brothers’s priority called the story of Darvarich about his flight in Pittsburgh an unsubstantiated fiction.

The next unit, No. 21 or "Type 21", was made by Whitehead along the same lines, but not with steam engines, but with two two-cylinder internal combustion engines of 20 hp, which operated on acetylene or a gas lamp. As already mentioned, the flight tests of this airplane began on 14 August 1901, in Bridgeport. According to a note by Dick Howell, a reporter for the Bridgeport Herald newspaper, who was present at the trial, Whitehead, who personally drove the car this time, managed to fly 800 meters and climb to a height of 15 meters. In this case, the pilot several times changed the direction of flight in order to avoid collisions with trees.

In total, Whitehead made at least four successful flights, confirmed by the testimony of a dozen witnesses given under oath. The maximum distance that he was able to overcome in the air was about two kilometers, and the maximum height was about 60 meters.

Unlike the previous Whitehead aircraft, from which there are no documents or images left, a number of 21 Type photos have been preserved. In 1986, a full-size copy of this aircraft was built on them, which was able to lift off the ground and fly 500 meters. True, instead of gas engines there were modern gasoline engines of the same power on it.

Now, many researchers are inclined to believe that, on the basis of available data, priority in the implementation of a controlled flight of a vehicle heavier than air should go to Whitehead, however, the Wright brothers' heirs, as well as the leadership of the National Museum aviation and US astronautics continue to claim a lack of convincing evidence.



Bluehead machine drawing # XXUMX and one of its engines. The frame of wood and bamboo was covered with lacquered silk, screws and wheels - wooden, rear edge of the wing - of wire. In the top view, the left plane is shown both in the unfolded and folded position.



Whitehead (second from left) with friends near his airplane. Front on the ground is a gas engine.



Whitehead Airplane #21, top view.



The illustration accompanying the Whitehead flights in the Bridgeport Herald. Sketch of an eyewitness or fantasy artist?



Modern reconstruction of the Whitehead apparatus, made for filming.



Flying replica of Whitehead aircraft with gasoline engines.
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36 comments
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  1. The comment was deleted.
  2. +5
    August 21 2016
    However, most serious aviation historians consider fiction information about allegedly successful Whitehead flights in 1901-1902. The following arguments are provided:

    a) there is no reliable evidence of the flight - there are no photos of the aircraft in flight, the testimony of "witnesses" is extremely contradictory (one of the two eyewitnesses named in the "Bridgeport Sundey Herald" dated August 18, 1901, publicly refused to confirm the fact of the flight), people who knew the inventor, never heard from him about flights in 1901-1902;
    b) according to the testimony of one of the pioneers of American aircraft construction, C. Menley, who saw Whitehead No. 21, its structure was very fragile and would certainly break if it attempted to fly;
    c) according to many who knew Whitehead at that time, his knowledge and skills were insufficient to independently construct an engine suitable for flight.
    However, the main argument indicating the fictionalization of the story about the flights of 1901-1902 is, in my opinion, the fact that in the future Whitehead was not engaged in the development of his aircraft, which, in his words, showed excellent flight qualities (similar results were achieved only in 1908), and began to build primitive and unsuccessful gliders. The biplane aircraft he created in 1906 turned out to be unable to fly.
    1. +3
      August 21 2016
      no reliable evidence of flight

      The same as "flying to the moon".
      1. +3
        August 21 2016
        Here are the drawers that the American drags in his hands
        astronaut (they are called corner reflectors), Russian and
        other scientists are still calibrating instruments on Earth.
        1. +2
          August 21 2016
          Maybe it's corner reflectors, BUT THE BROWN MOON! It was necessary to study better at school! Warrior oh!
          1. 0
            August 21 2016
            "BUT THE MOON IS BROWN! You should have studied better at school!" ////

            Do you want pictures fresher? Will 2009 suit you?
            Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) circled and photographed
            The moon with the newest and most powerful camera ever
            existed 7 years ago.
            And the pictures are exactly the same color as the Apollo astronauts in the 60s.

            In the photo: Apollo 17 landing site.
            By the way: 5 American flags are on the moon
            so far, one has fallen. From them, distinct long thin shadows are visible (thin shaft of the shaft)
            on the surface of the moon.
          2. +1
            August 21 2016
            Here is a collage of 6 pictures taken in 2009.
            All 6 Apollo seats are clearly visible.

            And the Indian probe fotkal some of them, and Japanese.
            And the Soviet lunar rover fotkali, by the way. And everywhere the same color and everything else
            very similar to the shooting of the 60s.

            1. +2
              August 21 2016
              Warrior, you claim that the moon is gray? And why do I need NASA images that have been exposed for a long time? And further. Ours hung the flag of the Russian Federation outside the station. He stuck out for 2 years, then to dust. Do you have 40 years old as new? And there are no dust storms on the Moon, since there are traces left? And where are the traces of the Soviet lunar rover? Dee and in general, where is the lunar rover? I strongly suspect that the floor is a layer of moon sand.
        2. +1
          August 21 2016
          Where are the stars ??????
          Best regards
          1. +2
            August 21 2016
            Americans erased with a mop. laughing
          2. 0
            August 21 2016
            Here is a modern shot: no stars are visible.
            Like 50 years ago.

            1. +2
              August 21 2016
              1. Obviously, stars are visible only from the Earth.
              2. In the photo, the moon is clearly not gray, as in NASA images. Boom to argue further or watch a movie?
    2. The comment was deleted.
    3. 0
      August 21 2016
      it is not clear how to copy the text to which you want to answer? Text is not highlighted.
  3. +2
    August 21 2016
    The illustration accompanying the Whitehead flights in the Bridgeport Herald. Sketch of an eyewitness or fantasy artist?

    There are "lumpy" doubts about the reality of the first flight on such an "airmobile". fellow
  4. +4
    August 21 2016
    But Mozhaisky’s plane really flew before the beginning of the twentieth century.
    1. +3
      August 21 2016
      in September 1876 he built the first flying model of the aircraft. This model, which he called the "flyer", consisted of a small boat-fuselage, to which one rectangular bearing surface was attached at an angle. The thrust of the model was created by three propellers, one of which was located in the bow of the boat, and the other two - in specially made slots of the wing. The screws were driven by a twisted rubber band or clock spring. For takeoff and landing, the model had four wheels located under the fuselage. The model made steady flights at a speed of over 5 m / s. Renowned shipbuilding engineer, member of the Marine Technical Committee, Colonel P.A. Bogoslovsky wrote about this: "The inventor quite rightly solved the long standing issue of aeronautics. The apparatus, with the help of its propellants, not only flies, runs on the ground, but can also float. The flight speed of the apparatus is amazing; it is not afraid of either gravity or wind. and is capable of flying in any direction ...

      No need to praise what has been done later by the Russians for a quarter of a century, and much worse.
  5. +1
    August 21 2016
    damn who is interested in studying someone else's history of aircraft construction, and even a little reliable?
    1. AUL
      +1
      August 21 2016
      If you are not interested, why read, and even comment? But there are people (and many) who are interested in it!
      1. 0
        August 21 2016
        as you can see there are almost no such "people" laughing
        and as for why I comment? Well so I comment not in content, but in form. We need to study our history, and let the Americans study American.
        1. 0
          August 21 2016
          This is what you blasted off enchanting nonsense. History cannot be "ours" and "not ours."
          1. 0
            August 21 2016
            why can't? whoever has this story, that’s what it is. Have you heard about the Baerschelceramiler?
            1. 0
              August 21 2016
              And what should I have heard of them? Or shouldn't?
              You talk about propaganda, but call it history.
            2. 0
              August 21 2016
              And what should I have heard of them? Or shouldn't?
              You talk about propaganda, but call it history.
  6. +1
    August 21 2016
    With such a wingspan, take-off speed should be decent. IMHO
  7. +1
    August 21 2016
    Quote: voyaka uh
    Here are the drawers that the American drags in his hands
    astronaut (they are called corner reflectors), Russian and
    other scientists are still calibrating instruments on Earth.


    it’s a lie to get a laser beam from the earth through the atmosphere, which refracts light by 300 thousand km. into an object, the angular size, which is a thousandth of an arc second, is IMPOSSIBLE. This is a lie that is spread not for thinking people, but for a plebs who do not understand and cannot verify. But let's give the link.
    1. 0
      August 21 2016
      I read somewhere that a laser beam from the Earth will leave a spot with a diameter of 3 km on the moon. So, having the right appliances .... easy.
      1. +1
        August 21 2016
        link, come on ...
      2. +1
        August 21 2016
        Here, by the way, is also a unique historical shot:
        Soviet lunar rover descends to the surface of the moon.
        And also: the stars are not visible, the moon is not brown.
        Mosfilm conspired with Hollywood, apparently. smile
        1. +2
          August 21 2016
          funny and who removes the lunar rover? By the way, the picture is black and white so it cannot be brown.
  8. 0
    August 21 2016
    Soviet lunar rover took a picture in the same way as numerous
    items from Apollo landing sites. Nothing happened with the Soviet Lunokhod,
    nor with the American Rovers. Corner reflectors of those years, as American,
    so the Soviets have been working for 50 years without problems - they calibrate objects
    on the ground.
    No one refuted the pictures of 2009-2010. Even the Japanese probe failed to get
    best quality.
    1. +1
      August 21 2016
      So why did the Chinese Jade Bunny broadcast footage of the brown moon? To spite the Yankees and Jews?
    2. 0
      August 21 2016
      About laser calibrations, I asked you for a link.
  9. 0
    August 21 2016
    Mozhaisky was mentioned, and we should recall Kryakutny.
  10. 0
    August 21 2016
    vicvladol,
    Well, if you haven’t heard, what can you even know about history?
    1. 0
      August 22 2016
      You came up with an answer for me and made a definitive conclusion from it. Class! Well, in the discussion you are quite self-sufficient. PS: It was impossible to answer in the branch? (This is a rhetorical question)
  11. The comment was deleted.
  12. 0
    August 21 2016
    And the window for the comments was specially moved upstairs, so that the comments would be written without reading to anyone? Soviet propaganda did not go as far as denying American flights to the moon, because in those days no such obscurantism occurred to anyone.
  13. 0
    August 21 2016
    If the copy flew, there is a high probability that the original could. By the way, the engines are not so massive in appearance. And 40 horses for a single unit is enough. Interestingly, somewhere there are characteristics of the device in more detail?

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