From Inventing aviation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"A mechanically driven fixed-wing aircraft, heavier than air, which is supported by the dynamic reaction of the air against its wings."

In its initial definition within Class 244 of the patent classification system, the United States Patent Office defined an airplane as a structure adapted to fly freely above the earth, sustained by the reaction of the air on one or more planes.[1]

Schematic of early airplane types appearing in Graffigny, 1909, Les Aéroplans, p. 20.

According to Albert Francis Zahm (Zahm, 1944, p. 326), William Samuel Henson invented the airplane, and patented it with Patent GB-1842-9478.

Chronology of proto-aviation: Graffigny, 1909, Les Aéroplans, pp. 14–17.

The airplane archetype

Freudenthal, 1940, The Aviation Business, pp. 13–14:

Curtiss considered this transatlantic flight immediately practicable, and his words reveal his opinion that the models of 1912 were not basically different from the earliest models:

There is no doubt that such a flight [across the Atlantic] is possible today, just as the flight across the United States was possible in even the early stages of aviation. For the machine and the motor which actually accomplished this trip were almost the same as the very first models; . . . (Italics mine).9

Other authorities, writing later, agree on this similarity of the essentials of the airplane since the first models: the Boeing Clipper of 1938, for example, had a Wright Cyclone engine of 1,500 horsepower compared with the 24-horsepower motor used by Santos-Dumont in 1906, but the essential fact of the internal-combusion engine remains the same.10 General William Mitchell, who had studied with Curtiss early in his career, confirmed the quotation just cited eighteen years after Curtiss had written it:

The first successful airplane of the Wrights contained all the principal parts that a modern plane has. Their landing gear and method of controlling the various surfaces, although somewhat different in mechanical arrangement from those now in use, were essentially the same . . . it is a question whether the airplane of today is any safer than were some of those constructed by the Wrights.11

Pessimism regarding

See: People who said controlled heavier-than-air flight was impossible

Recalled by Mark Sullivan (b. 1875):

To dismiss aviation with the damnation of jeers was orthodox. Puck, a periodical genially confident of the ultimateness of things as they are, printed on October 19, 1904:

"When," inquired his friend, more for the sake of asking than for the answer, "will you wing — I believe that is the correct term — your first flight?"
"Just as soon," replied the flying machine inventor, "as I can get the" — And, yet, it has been said that lunatics have no sense of humor — "laws of gravitation repealed."

Newspapers occasionally published articles or fiction stories that dealt with the coming day of the flying-machine in the spirit of a kind of semi-precious pseudo-science; of the Jules Verne sort — perpetual motion, rain-making, pits dug through to China, messages from Mars, and visitors from outer space. Aviation was regarded as kin to these, a legitimate field for increasing fantasy.[2]

This wiki has 1,728 patents in category "Airplane". Other techtypes related to Airplane: AU 90.3, Austro-Daimler engine, Aviation, CA 244/11, CA 244/12, CA 244/5, CA 244/6, CA 244/7, CA 244/8, CA 244/9, CA 272/25, CPC B64, CPC B64C, CPC B64C23/005, CPC B64C27/26, CPC B64D27/023, Drachenflieger, FR 6.4, GB 4 aëroplanes, HU V/h, IPC B64C, Rarefaction, USPC 244, USPC 244/13, USPC 244/154, USPC 244/4, USPC 244/6, USPC 244/7, USPC 244/8, USPC 244/9

Patents in category Airplane


See also


Enclosing categories Simple tech terms
Keywords Propulsion, Langley's Law, Airfoil
Start year
End year