After success with various unmanned rubber, steam and petrol-powered
model aircraft, US inventor Samuel Pierpont Langley progressed to a
full-size man-carrying machine he called the 'Aerodrome'. Feeling it was safer
to fly over water, Langley spent half the project cost (supplied by the War
Department) on a houseboat fitted with a catapult launcher. He assembled
his Aerodrome on the roof.
His first attempt ended in collapse when the catapult force overstressed
the airframe. On 8 December 1903 he tried again. The Aerodrome broke up
and fell in the Potomac River. Nine days later the Wright Brothers flew at
Kitty Hawk. As secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Langley did all he
could to promote his achievements and belittle the Wrights', leading to a
| MODEL||Aerodrome A|
| ENGINE||1 x 52hp Manly radial piston engine|
| Take-off weight||340 kg||750 lb|
| Wingspan||14.60 m||48 ft 11 in|
| Length||16.00 m||53 ft 6 in|
| Height||3.50 m||12 ft 6 in|
Sounds like the good Mr. Langley would writhe in agony to see the special place the Smithsonian reserves for the Wright Flyer. ;)
|Terrence I. Murphy, 18.02.2012|
Langley's unmanned steam-driven model "number 5" did make a successful 90-second flight of over half a mile about 25 miles an hour at a height of 80 to 100 feet on May 6, 1896. In November model "number six" flew more than 5,000 feet. Both aircraft were launched by "catapult" from a houseboat in the Potomac River near Quantico, Virginia, south of Washington, D.C. But when he added the weight of a man, it wouldn't fly.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?
FACTS AND FIGURES
© Despite the perceived greater safety
of flying over water, the Aerodtome
had no floats or other gear for
landing on either land on water.
© Unlike the Wright Brothers,
Langley had not appreciated the
problems of control, and the
Aerodrome had no ailerons or other
method of steering except a rudder.
© The Aerodrome was launched with
the aid of a catapult, which would
have ruled it out as the first self-powered
manned flying machine,
even if it had flown successfully.