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Tag Archives: early flight

Obscure Objects: Glenn Curtiss Motorcycle

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You may know the name Glenn Curtiss in association with early aviation, but did you know he was a pioneer in motorcycle design too? Curtiss was born in Hammondsport, New York, in 1878, and from a young age exhibited strong mechanical ability. In his teens he was a champion bicycle racer with a keen interest   …Continue Reading

First Flight Around the World: An Adventure for a New Generation

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Several years ago I had the privilege of working on the core team that developed the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight gallery. The exhibition tells fascinating stories featuring some spectacular aviation icons of the 1920s and 1930s, including Amelia Earhart’s bright red Lockheed Vega and the Lindberghs’ Lockheed Sirius Tingmissartoq.  One that I wasn’t familiar with   …Continue Reading

An Extraordinary Journey: The History of Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex on the Flight of Birds

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The possibility of human mechanical flight held particular fascination for Leonardo da Vinci.  He produced more than 35,000 words and 500 sketches dealing with flying machines, the nature of air, and bird flight.  He produced one notebook, or codex, almost entirely on flight in 1505-1506, known as the Codex on the Flight of Birds.  In   …Continue Reading

The Flight Claims of Gustave Whitehead

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Gustave Whitehead is back in the news. Whitehead (1874-1927), a native of Leutershausen, Bavaria, who immigrated to the United States, probably in 1894, claimed to have made a sustained powered flight in a heavier-than-air machine on August  14, 1901, two years before the Wright brothers. He further claimed that he had made additional flights of   …Continue Reading

Langley Preservation Project: Thinking Outside the Box

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In 1887, Samuel Pierpont Langley became the third Secretary of the Smithsonian.  Included among his many accomplishments is his founding of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in 1890.  His research in the fields of astronomy, physics, and aviation remain a testament to his diverse interests.  While Secretary, Langley took up the challenge of powered flight.  Langley’s   …Continue Reading