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177826.  Fri May 25, 2007 5:19 am Reply with quote

Q: Who invented the first flying machine

K: Orville & Wilbur Wright

A: Well .. it's something of a can of worms .. what do you mean by first, what do you mean by flight, what do you mean by machine, are we talking powered or not, manned or not ? as I say a big old can of worms...

The first record of a person flying is ,perhaps unsurprisingly, from China in the final year of the Tianfeng era of the Xin Dynasty (approx 19AD) when an unnamed individual flew "at a swift speed, to spy on the Xiongnu (later known as the Hun). The contraption was lightly built, with two big wings like those of a bird, and feather over the head and body. The flight ran for a few hundred paces, and fell" it is not recorded what happened to the first aviator.

If we agree we are infact talking about a powered manned aircraft capable of taking off and landing under its own power then again we are almost certainly not talking about the Wright brothers, as the Flyer III was propelled along a rail by a catapult of sorts and had the benefit of a headwind to achieve take-off speed.

In 1901 Gustav Whitehead in his "Number 21" took off from a flat surface, flew about 800m at a height of about 15m and landed softly on his wheels again. This flight was witnessed by a number of people including reporters, reports appeard in local papers and affidavits to the flight were signed by the witnesses some 30 years later.

One year later in 1902 Lyman Gilmore flew a steam powered glider, photos were taken in 1898 of the glider but none exist that show it actually flying.

However in 1906 (3 years after the Wrights) Trajan Vuia from Romania achived the first flight by a heavier-than-air, self-propelled aircraft, ("Vuia 1") without the aid of external takeoff mechanisms, such as rail or catapult. Many newspapers in France, the US, and the UK wrote about the first man to fly with a heavier-than-air machine with its own take off systems, propulsion units and landing gear. The thing that has been emphasized about Vuia's achievement is that his machine was able to take off on a flat surface "only by on-board means", without any "outside assistance", be it an incline, rails, a catapult, or whatever.

Basically prior to the Wrights lots of people were experimenting with and succeeding with flight, however as none of these flights were well recorded and no photographs remain, it is very difficult to substantiate many of these reports. In particular, the Smithsonian Institute strongly denies that controlled, powered flight occurred before 1903 (yet the Smithsonian didn't make this decision until 1948, when they signed a contract for the Wright brothers' plane).

For more claimants to the first flier and more on this theme - (


Long Haired Hippy
177851.  Fri May 25, 2007 6:24 am Reply with quote

Are we to miss all talk of the Montgolfiers brothers?

And why are we restricting ourselves to discussion of manned flight? Surely the ealiest flying machines were kites. Whihc have been around for at least 3,000 years. Though if you don't accept them there's leonardo da Vinchi's designs for Ornithopters and Helicopters (you did say invent rather then create and demonstrate)

However I think the earliers and most accurate answer I can find is Chu Ko Liang, born circa 180 CE who invented the paper fire balloon or "Sky Lantern"

177859.  Fri May 25, 2007 6:39 am Reply with quote

what about otto lilenthal (1848 - 1996, from anklam in pommerania)? he started experimenting with gliding machines while in still school and, in 1893, developed the first hang glider to go into commercial production. the "normalsegelapparat" (a beautifully german mouthful that translates into "regular sailing apparatus", but that really doesn't have the same stiff collared ring to it) was produced from 1894 to 1896 in his factory in berlin and sold for 500 marks. it was bought by, amongst others, william randolph hearst and had a us patent on it. for easy transport the wings folded away, so it was really quite a modern contraption. lilienthal's machines flew up to 250 metres and he died after crashing in one in 1896 - guess that hampered consumer confidence in the product a bit, coming to think of it. his death, however, did inspire the wright brothers who set out to build a safe flying machine. and here is herr lilienthal in full flight:

sources for all this are and what i learned in school as a kid.



177896.  Fri May 25, 2007 8:24 am Reply with quote

Long Haired Hippy wrote:
Are we to miss all talk of the Montgolfiers brothers?

Long Haired Hippy wrote:
Surely the ealiest flying machines were kites. Whihc have been around for at least 3,000 years. Though if you don't accept them there's leonardo da Vinchi's designs for Ornithopters and Helicopters (you did say invent rather then create and demonstrate)

well yes, but Da Vincis glider did indeed fly, but was only constructed in the 20th Century with a modern knowledge of aerodynamics, and his helicopter is completely lacks any aerodynamics and would plummet like a stone!

Long Haired Hippy wrote:
However I think the earliers and most accurate answer I can find is Chu Ko Liang, born circa 180 CE who invented the paper fire balloon or "Sky Lantern"

Chu Ko Liang (Zhuge Liang / Chu Ko Kungming) is atrributed as having invented the "Kongming Lantern" to transmit military information. The Chinese were certainly experimenting with hot air ballons in 3BC but according to Joseph Needham (he of "needhams grand question", pre-eminent authority on chinese science, member of both the Royal Society and the British Academy and known in China as Li Yuese) this attribution is apocryphal. He was without doubt a powerful and clever man but he had much attributed to him that was nothing to do with him. (i.e the Zhuge Nu Crossbow).

Further to the above the "Kongming Lantern" or "Sky Lantern" would not have been capable or suitable for human transport.

There is also a chinese proverb stating "three tanners (cobblers) outweigh Zhuge Liang" i.e "two heads are better than one"

sorry I digress...


183500.  Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:36 am Reply with quote

For the sake of completeness :)

post 183341


189342.  Mon Jul 09, 2007 6:56 am Reply with quote

The patron saint of air travellers, pilots and stewards/stewardesses is Guiseppe Maria Desa (aka St Joseph of Cupertino) also known as "The Flying Friar"...

Joseph Desa was initially an outcast, born into such extreme poverty in 1603 that he was delivered in a shed. He seemed to be a simpleton and was nicknamed "The Gaper" because of his habit of wandering around open mouthed. He lost his father at a young age and was resented by his mother, who attempted to rid herself of him by having him join a Capuchin monastery.

Even this seemed beyond him, and he was thrown out after eight months because of his vacant attitude and habit of dropping crockery. Only after being admitted as a novice to a Franciscan order in Grottella did he begin to display his powers, which were witnessed by people of unchallenged integrity, according to the Vatican. Joseph’s most spectacular feats were his ability to soar high over the chapel’s altars and, on one occasion, to help workmen to erect a Calvary Cross 36ft high by levitating himself and lifting the heavy cross “as if it were straw”.

In 1630 in the town of Cupertino the towns folk held a procession on the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi. Legend holds that Joseph was assisting in the procession when he suddenly soared into the sky, where he remained hovering over the crowd. When he descended and realized what had happened, he became so embarrassed that he fled to his mother's house and hid. On hearing the names of Jesus or Mary, the singing of hymns, during the feast of St. Francis, or while praying at Mass, he would go into dazed state and soar into the air, remaining there until a superior commanded him to revive.


189949.  Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:09 pm Reply with quote

Why was garlic bread not allowed on the Hindenburg Airship?

The hydrogen gas within the airship was scented with the smell of garlic so as to allow people to identify if there was a leak. The presence of garlic bread would somewhat defeat the objective of this.

Airships also contain a smoking room with one lighter, which was attached to the table.

189973.  Tue Jul 10, 2007 3:59 pm Reply with quote

Smiley - I like that, and it might make a question. Do you have a source?

189974.  Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:07 pm Reply with quote

James May in "James May's 20th Century"

I think, well thats where i found it out anyway

189975.  Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:14 pm Reply with quote

I saw it on James May's TV programme which aired this evening.

There seem to be a few sources regarding the scenting of the hydrogen gas with garlic, including:

Regarding the smoking rooms, from the Guardian, I found this:

The Hindenburg was the first Zeppelin in which psasengers* were allowed to smoke. The smoking-room was made of material as non-inflammable as asbestos. It was entered through an air-lock over which the steward of the bar had control. He would not let passengers out until their cigarettes had been left behind in a water-filled ashtray.

This site also backs up the idea of there being one lighter in the smoking room, which was chained to a table.

As for the lack of serving garlic bread, I'm still looking for sources (unless common sense is regarded as a reliable source).

*lol. Typical Guardian typo!

189977.  Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:30 pm Reply with quote

Searching for "knoblauchbrot" and "zeppelin" in doesn't seem to be returning many results either - damnit...!

189982.  Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:57 pm Reply with quote

The Zeppelin was a very elegant flying machine, elegant not only in appearance and movement, in style and decor, but elegant in its engineering. One example of this elegance, and of German thoroughness, was in the design of the propelling engines. It is important in lighter-than-air (LTA) flight to keep the buoyancy steady, and to assist the flight engineer in this, the engines ran on fuel gas instead of liquid fuel; the gas was a mixture of hydrocarbons having the same density as air, kept in ballast sacs; as the fuel gas was consumed from the sacs it was replaced by air; thus the overall weight remained constant throughout the flight.

190013.  Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:14 pm Reply with quote

The food served on board the Hindenburg was

Patés à la reine
Carmen salad
Indian swallow nest soup
Beef broth with marrow dumplings
Fresh Black Forest brook trout
Cold Rhine salmon with spiced sauce and potato salad
Roast gosling meunière
Fattened duckling, Bavarian-style, with champagne cabbage
Venison cutlets Beauval with Berny potatoes
Tenderloin steak with goose liver sauce, Chateau potatoes and green beans à la princesse
Iced California melon
Pears condé with chocolate sauce
Turkish coffee
Cakes and liqueurs

no garlic bread or infact any garlic in any dish ...


190052.  Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:51 am Reply with quote

Was garlic bread a popular dish in the times of the Hindenberg? The lack of garlic bread line might have just been a throwaway gag.

190056.  Wed Jul 11, 2007 4:05 am Reply with quote

probably not, coming to think of it. while italian cooking would have been regarded as cool in some circles back then, the german mindset as such was deeply suspicious of garlic well into the 1980's. it has to be said, however, that despite the lack of garlic the menu looks fucking delicious!




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