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The Inventor of the First Aircraft

Honour, Kitty Hawk, Steam Engine

For centuries man has been fascinated with the concept of flight. The true pioneer and inventor of the first true aircraft has been and probably will remain debatable. Throughout history records have included various forms of flight in mans attempts to conquer the skies.

* 400 BC – The discovery of the kite in China began mans interest in flying. An important invention that became the forerunner to the development of the glider and the balloon.

* 1485 – The inventor Leonardo Da Vinci began the first recorded study of flight. Using the concept of birds wings he developed over 100 drawings for ideas of mechanical and machines that could theoretically carry man. His most famous deign was that of the Ornithopter flying machine, though he never actually built the model.

* 1783 – Joseph and Jaques Montgolfier, brothers who invented the hot air balloon. The first manned flight happened on November 21 1783.

*1784 – Jean-Pierre Blanchard took the concept of the hot air balloon and fitted a hand-powered propeller, thus giving a recorded method of propulsion. *1799 – 1850’s – Sir George Cayley spent years developing the idea and recorded the first flight using a glider. He designed an aircraft in 1804 with fixed wings and controls, plus a form of propulsion.

*1848 John Stringfellow designed the first model aircraft, powered by a steam engine. The model is the first recorded powered flight.

*1852 – Henri Giffard made the first engine powered flight aboard a steam engined airship which flew over 17 miles.

*1871 – Alphonse Penaud developed a rubber band powered airplane toy. A student of Sir George Cayley he spent his life further developing mans ideas for powered flight.

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*1883 – John Stringfellow designed and built a tri-plane that flew indoors at 20 miles per hour from a wire.

*1884 – Charles Renard and Arthur Constatin Krebs make the first fully controllable flight in an airship over 5 miles.

*1891 – Otto Lilienthal developed and flew the first glider over long distances.

*1891 – Samual Langley built a model aircraft using a steam powered engine that flew for 3/4 of a mile. A full scale model was developed but this proved to be to heavy and crashed.

*1894 – Octave Chanute designed several airplanes with the most successful being a bi-plane he named the Herring.

*1903 – Orville and Wilbur Wright design the Kitty Hawk and are widely credited with the first powered and manned flight on December 17th 1903. The flight covered 36 metres (120 feet).

The definition of an aircraft is that of any navigable vehicle capable of flight. In analysis of the inventor of the first aircraft, as we know the aircraft today, it depends on each particular point. In terms of design it would suggest that Sir George Cayley has the honour. For the first powered flight the inventor would be John Stringfellow and the Wright Brothers claim the honour with the first manned flight.