Clear prop!


Well, not really, since they had to hand-prop it. A hundred and nine years and one day ago (I meant to post about this yesterday on the actual anniversary) on a blustery morning that was of uncertain suitability for the experiment, Wilbur and Orville Wright coaxed their crude non-factory 12 hp 140 lb. four-cylinder motor (how they would have loved a modern Briggs & Stratton V-twin!) to life on their Flyer, and Orville stumbled it through the air for a ground distance of a hundred and twenty feet in twelve seconds. Observers who had witnessed the brothers’ gliding experiments wondered why the pair were whooping it up and celebrating; they’d seen Wilbur and Orville glide for longer distances. But the latter pair knew it was the first time in history that a heavier-than-air machine had ascended into flight (rather than just making a series of ground-effect hops as Clement Ader’s Eole had done), and landed at a place no lower than that from which it had taken off.

One things that I always like to recount in the story of the Wright Brothers is the example (if only anecdotal) of the success of capitalism vs. socialism (government subsidy). For the Wright Brothers’ main competition was from one Professor Samuel Pierpont Langley, who received a $50,000 grant (over a century ago, when such money was more scarce and worth a lot more) to develop a flying machine. He exhausted that amount and was granted more (I’m not sure how much more), before he completed and tested his Aerodrome. He had previously and successfully tested a large unmanned steam-powered model of the aircraft. The full-sized version had a five-cylinder radial engine- designed by Stephen Balzer and reworked and built by Langley’s assistant Charles Manly (I cheated and looked at the Smithsonian NASM website to clarify Balzer’s name, and discovered more of Manly’s involvement in the project than I’d known before)- of 200 lb. and 50 hp, a vastly superior power-to-weight ratio compared to the crude Charles Taylor engine (nothing against the man; I highly doubt I could design and build an engine that worked at all with the means available to him) that the Wright Brothers used. Yet the government-subsidized Aerodrome crashed into the Potomac River on both launch attempts (on the second attempt, nearly drowning Manly, who piloted the machine), and the with the pure private-enterprise Flyer, the Wright Brothers flew into history.


Good story, one I had not heard


“If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it’s probably a
helicopter – and therefore, unsafe.”

“When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough
power left to get you to the scene of the crash.”

“Without ammunition, the USAF would be just another expensive flying club.”

“Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers.”

Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete
the flight.

“A smooth landing is mostly luck; two in a row is all luck; three in a row is

“Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left one up there!”

“Flashlights are tubular metal containers kept in a flight bag for the purpose of
storing dead batteries.”

“In an emergency, flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it.”

“When a flight is proceeding incredibly well, something was forgotten.”

Advice given to RAF pilots during WWII: “When a prang (crash) seems inevitable, endeavor to strike the softest, cheapest object in the vicinity as slow and gently as possible.”

“The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you.”

  • Attributed to Max Stanley (Northrop test pilot)

“If you’re faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as

  • Bob Hoover (Renowned aerobatic and test pilot)

Basic Flying Rules: “Try to stay in the middle of the air. Do not go near the
edges of it. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.”

“You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full
power with afterburners to taxi to the terminal.”



[quote=“17Oaks, post:2, topic:37523”]
"You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full
power with afterburners to taxi to the terminal.


Reminds me of a couple more.

-There are two kinds of taildragger pilots; those who have groundlooped, and those who are going to…

And one I read from aviation cartoonist Bob Stevens (I know I’m not getting all of it word for word):

Late one night flying in to some airport or other (I forget where; I’ll just call it Riverside Airport (I have no idea if there was a river within a dozen miles)), the pilot knew the guy on duty in the control tower, and decided to have some fun with him when he called in.

PILOT: Riverside Tower, guess who.
TOWER (askance): Riverside Tower. Aircraft calling, say again callsign, please.
PILOT: Guess who.
TOWER: Unidentified aircraft, Riverside Tower. Identify yourself.
PILOT: Guess who.
TOWER (perturbed and pulling a master switch that shuts off all of the airport lights): Unidentified aircraft, Riverside Tower. Guess where.