Aviation Historian 4
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M.Oakey - History or Hogwash?
The photograph upon which John Brown has focused. It was taken at an Aero Club of America exhibition in New York in early 1906. On the wall below and beyond the suspended (and rather ragged) Lilienthal glider are several images which include, at far left, some recognisable photographs of Whitehead aircraft. Also of interest, although not directly relevant to this article, is the object at lower right: it is the crankshaft and flywheel from the engine of the original 1903 Wright Flyer.
(Normal-glider 1894) The photograph upon which John Brown has focused. It was taken at an Aero Club of America exhibition in New York in early 1906. On the wall below and beyond the suspended (and rather ragged) Lilienthal glider are several images which include, at far left, some recognisable photographs of Whitehead aircraft. Also of interest, although not directly relevant to this article, is the object at lower right: it is the crankshaft and flywheel from the engine of the original 1903 Wright Flyer.
In the 1980s-90s two flying “replicas” of the Whitehead No 21 were built, one in Germany and this one, designated “No 21A”, in the USA. Although both were flown, structural and aerodynamic differences, plus the use of modern powerplants, mean that they cannot be regarded as proof that the original aircraft was capable of flight.
The original of the view, in which Whitehead poses with his small daughter Rose, was retouched at some point to remove a tree in the background behind the port wing.
In this letter printed in The American Inventor of April 1, 1902, Whitehead claimed to have flown for two miles and seven miles in his “No 22” monoplane, of which no image is known (the No 21 is shown here)
Rear view of Whitehead’s bat-winged No 21 monoplane of 1901, in which it is claimed he flew on August 14, 1901.
WHEN CONSIDERING primary source material, it can be vital to examine it in context, not just in isolation. In the case of the Bridgeport Sunday Herald, such an approach is illuminating. The story, referred to in this article, appeared on page 5 of the August 18, 1901 edition. Research in the paper’s archives shows that the “page 5 story” was often sensational and, as early-aviation historian Nick Engler says, “walked the line between fact and fancy”
A side-elevation drawing of Whitehead’s No 21 aircraft by Bjorn Karlstrom, showing the engine position and the bowsprit-and-kingpost bracing system. Note the complete lack of fixed or movable vertical tail surfaces.
A detail from the image, with the massively enlarged photograph-within-a-photograph which, according to John Brown, depicts Whitehead’s aeroplane in flight in 1901. Brown offers an analysis of the picture on his website.
The photograph upon which John Brown has focused. It was taken at an Aero Club of America exhibition in New York in early 1906. On the wall below and beyond the suspended (and rather ragged) Lilienthal glider are several images which include, at far left, some recognisable photographs of Whitehead aircraft. Also of interest, although not directly relevant to this article, is the object at lower right: it is the crankshaft and flywheel from the engine of the original 1903 Wright Flyer.
His large glider of 1902-05, often referred to as the “Large Albatross” (there was also a smaller version), being tested at Stratford, Connecticut, in about 1904. It had foldable wings and could be towed into the air behind a car. In 1905 Whitehead filed a patent for this design which was granted in 1908 (No 881,837).
The Whitehead-Beach aeroplane of 1908, constructed at Tunxis Hill, had flatplate-section biplane main wings supplemented by batlike monoplane wings at mid-fuselage. White Japanese silk was used in the wings. A lever controlled the rudder and elevated the batlike wings.
Another incarnation of the Whitehead-Beach biplane, built for Stanley Yale Beach, son of the editor of Scientific American, with shallow camber on the wings and without the supplementary mid-fuselage wings. Note the belt drive from the lower chassis-mounted engine to the twin propellers.
Whitehead at the wheel of his 60-rotor helicopter of 1911-12, his last aircraft design. It was built for Lee S. Burridge, the founder and president of the Aeronautical Society of America. Contemporary reports stated that a 75 h.p. engine powered the rotating drum which ran the length of the machine, the rotors being driven by the drum via a pulley system.