First Airplane
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History Of Flight - Information concerning early pioneers in the history of flight, from Chinese flying Kites in 400BC to the first balloon flights. First airplane, first flight, Concorde's last flight and links.



A look at pre 20th century aviation pioneers, Leonardo Da Vinci, Emanuel Swedenborg, George Cayley, Montgolfier Brothers and more. Sketches of early airplane designs included.


First Airplane

A look at pre 20th century aviation pioneers, some early first airplane designs and pictures included.

1500 A.D.
Leonardo Da Vinci -"A bird is an instrument working according to a mathematical law. It lies within the power of man to make this instrument with all its motions". Leonardo began making sketches of ideas on how one might escape from say a burning building.

First Airplane

Leonardo Da Vinci, Sefl Portrait

1600 A.D.
Fausto De Veranzio - Made the first recorded parachute jump. Exact date is unclear.

Emanuel Swedenborg, (1688-1772) was a theologian and a philosopher whose life and work left a profound legacy in those fields. Here, however, it is Swedenborg's Daedalian which deserves our attention.

This "Machine For Flying" was a remarkable aeronautical design for its time, featuring wheeled landing gear, a concave lifting surface (curved in both length and width), a central location for the operator and beating blades for propulsion. There is even an indication that a means of control was sought, through the manipulation of the propulsive blades. Considering the state of knowledge and the absolute dominance of balloons at this point in aerial matters, Swedenborg's design, rough and naive as it is, stands as a testament to his ability.

First Airplane

Swedenborg's Daedalian (front on right) - A Machine For Flying - 1714

1700 A.D.

George Cayley, (1773-1857) is considered the father of aviation. Cayley was a relatively well to do baronet who lived on an estate in Yorkshire, England. An educated man, Cayley spent his life working intensely on engineering, social, and political problems in England. However, the dominant interest of his life was heavier-than-air flight, and in 1799 he set forth for the first time in history the concept of the modern airplane. Cayley had identified the drag vector (parallel to the flow) and the lift vector (perpendicular to the flow). It was this concept which was to be utilized by the Wright brothers in the first successful airplane more than a century later.

First Airplane (Click to enlarge)

In 1804, he designed, built, and flew a small model glider (pictured). In 1804 this glider represented the first modern configuration airplane in history, with a fixed wing, and a horizontal and vertical tail that could be adjusted. He found that setting the wings at a slight dihedral gave lateral stability and that a tail plane set behind the main wings gave longitudal stability.

First Airplane (Click to enlarge)

Sketch By George Cayley Of The Monoplane Glider - 1848

Montgolfier Brothers - First demo flight in a Hot Air Balloon

Pilatre de Rozier - Flew 5.5 miles over Paris in a balloon

1746 Benjamin Robins - Whirling Arm design's (wind tunnel designs) An english mathematician, was the first to employ a whirling arm. His first machine had an arm 4 feet long. Spun by a falling weight acting on a pulley and spindle arrangement, the arm tip reached velocities of only a few feet per second.

1783 Louis Sebastien Lenormand - Credited with the First person to demonstrate the parachute in France



The most relevant links we could find, placed here free

Wright brothers history - First Flight, 1903 - Although the 1902 flyer was the first truly-effective heavier-than-air craft, it didn't have a propulsion system, and so counts only as a glider, not as an airplane. Read more a bout the history here. www.wright-house.com

First to Fly - Wright Airplanes. www.first-to-fly.com

Site written by Alex Szeremeta