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"Who Flew First" film on ABC now (Sunday 2.30pm)


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Who Flew First: Challenging The Wright Brothers

Sunday 22nd March at 2:30 pm (54 minutes)

Australian aviation historian John Brown explores whether German-American aviator Gustave Whitehead achieved powered flight in the world's first aircraft two years before the Wright Brothers.

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This is a documentary made by W.A.'s Artemis Films, and it has been on the ABC before. In the link below, there is a scanned review of the documentary and the investigations behind the making of the film, from the West Australian newspaper.

 

What I found interesting was that the Smithsonian cut an agreement with the Wrights, that only allowed them to display the 1903 Kittyhawk Flyer, provided that they never conceded that anyone else flew before the Wrights.

 

Surely an indication that the Wrights themselves knew of the possibility that they had been beaten in the race to get airborne?

 

I believe that numerous other inventors and experimenters probably beat the Wrights into the air, but they simply lacked enough witnesses and connections to the media outlets of the day.

 

http://www.artemisfilms.com/productions/who-flew-first

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It's a bit like the invention of Calculus. Isaac Newton or Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. They each claim to be the originators of this form of mathematics.

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I watchedthe film and it was really good.

The Smithsonian institute, really should own up to being bias, after the film showed the contract with the wright brothers.

The film of the successfull flight is a phony too,as it was a later Two seat Flyer.

Who would have guesed not only lies, but theft of the others design.

spacesailor

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I'm of the opinion that Richard Pearse more than likely beat the Wrights into the air. But of course, there's a number of different definitions for "flying". Some of the earliest machines must have still been in ground effect.

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The film of the successfull flight is a phony too,as it was a later Two seat Flyer.

 

We do have the still photo of the first flight that has been attested to as being truthful. I imagine that having a moving picture cameraman on site would have been an expense the brothers could not justify. At least they did detail someone to take the photo we know so well.

 

First to achieve controlled powered flight? You really have to reach an agreement on what one means by "controlled" and "flight" It's pretty obvious whether an aircraft was powered or not.

 

Firstly, "flight" must include an increase in height above the starting point, otherwise it's simply a ballistic trajectory with some complications.

Next, "control" must include the ability to correct any deviation from the desired path caused by the effects of air currents, as well as the ability to effect major changes from the initial heading.

 

To my mind, a simple "controlled powered flight" would involve gaining altitude from the start point and making a pilot induced significant change of direction before a deliberate descent to the ground. I wouldn't call the December 1903 flights controlled flight because there was no significant change of direction. I would say that it wasn't until September 20, 1904, that Wilbur flew the first controlled powered flight in history by completing a circular flight, covering 4,080 feet (1,244 m) in about a minute and a half.

 

In the red-blooded American way, the Wrights did everything they could to monopolise on their work. They did not have the luxury of being able to give away their invention; it was to be their livelihood. Thus, their secrecy, encouraged by advice from their patent attorney, Henry Toulmin, not to reveal details of their machine. Later this lead to expensive patent violation litigation.

 

A lot of the claimants to "First to Fly" honours probably did manage to get off the ground, but the first flights were short and lacking positive pilot control. And few of them continued to develop their ideas for a flying machine. What is often forgotten is that the Wright's Flyer 1 was an aircraft that had undergone proper product development that had provided answers to questions of control. The Flyer 1 was more or less a practical glider to which an engine had been fitted. The only thing the in fact had to be tested in 1903 was whether the airframe could lift the extra weight of the engine, transmission and propellers.

 

It's a bit of luck that they struck on the idea of two propellers, thereby eliminating adverse prop torque effects.

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" We do have the still photo of the first flight that has been attested to as being truthful. "

In that 1st still picture, "that they say 1903single pilot", shows three black blobs " two people and an upright motor" the same as a 1908 flyer, with vertical engine.

Could be all lies but it looks good on that film.

spacesailor

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Pearce used ailerons, the Wrights used their crap system, lawfully stopped anyone using ailerons, and it took a war to get them into the public's hands.

 

So to me Pearce wins because he first flew the origins of what controlled aircraft come to be, be it before or after the Wrights..

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Guest Machtuk

Does it really matter these days? No one will ever know for sure but at the end of the day powered flight was invented by someone, or many at sometime that led to what we have today, most of the world's A/C grounded due hysteria!

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The Russians will no doubt have somebody also. I don't have any difficulty giving the Wrights a lot of credit for their effort. It did have effective roll control even if it was wing warping. Others of the time used the further effect of rudder. The "Flyer" was built under licence in France after it eventually "presented "and impressed many with it's maneuverability. Nev

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I was born in Timaru NZ just down the road from Waitohi where Richard Pearse farmed. The locals always thought that he was the first to fly and the Timaru Airport is named in his honour. He was by all accounts a bit of an eccentric but quite an inventor making everything himself including the engine. The eye witness report from a 16 year old farmers son have him taking off & flying along but was unable to gain enough height to get over a gorse hedge & the wheels caught on it & the plane crashed.

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There will always be what ifs. But it's a bit like a tree falling in the forest, if no one was there to see it, did it happen? There's heaps of evidence the wrights did what they did, but not much that others beat them to it. Another contender is Pierce in NZ.

 

To me there will never really be any doubt the wrights achieved powered controlled flight first. They went about their task in such a scientific manner it seems to me with the technology of the time you needed every last bit of performance that resulted from their research. Any uninformed tinkering and guessing would not result in success at that time in my view

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