The 1914 Test of the Langley "Aerodrome". Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Volume 103, number 8. Publication 3699.


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Washington, Smithsonian Institution, 1942. 8vo. Uncut and partly unopened in the original printed wrappers. Orville Wright's copy, with "From the private library of Orville Wright. Coexecutor" printed on title-page and signed by "H.S. Miller", the coexecutor. A very fine and clean copy, near mint. (2), 8 pp. First printing, Orville Wright's own copy, of this paper in which the Smithsonian Institution apologizes for and retracts former statements about the precedence of the Langley machine, thereby ending the Smithsonian-Wright controversy: who made the "first man-carrying aeroplane in the history".The Langley Aerodrome was a pioneering, but unsuccessful, manned, powered airplane designed by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Langley. At its first attempt in 1896, it plunged into the river "like a handful of mortar," according to one reporter. At the second attempt, in 1903, the craft broke and crashed into the Potomac River. This scenario repeated itself for nine days. Nine days after the final attempt, the Wright Brothers flew into history with their four successful flights in North Carolina and patented their airplane. The Smithsonian Aerodrome was heavily modified and flown a few hundred feet by Glenn Curtiss in 1914, as part of his attempt to fight the Wright brothers' patent, and as an effort by the Smithsonian to rescue Langley's aeronautical reputation. Nevertheless, courts upheld the patent. However, the Curtiss flights emboldened the Smithsonian to display the Aerodrome in its museum as "the first man-carrying aeroplane in the history of the world capable of sustained free flight". "It was a lie pure and simple, but it bore the imprimatur of the venerable Smithsonian and over the years would find its way into magazines, history books, and encyclopedias, much to the annoyance of those familiar with the facts." (Howard, 1987). The Smithsonian's action triggered a decades-long feud with the surviving Wright brother, Orville.This feud was finally ended with the present publication in which is stated "So far as I am aware, all men agree that on December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright, alternately piloting their plane, made the first sustained human flights in a power propelled heavier-than-air machine.". Bookseller Inventory # 46567

Bibliographic Details

Title: The 1914 Test of the Langley "Aerodrome". ...
Binding: Soft cover
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: 1st Edition

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