Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Christmas


Where did the year go? Suddenly we realize that 2009 which started in January is on its back with a blink of an eye! And it is December & Christmas season again -  

May  the spirit of Christmas which is peace, the gladness of Christmas

which is hope, and the heart of Christmas which is love be with you and

your loved ones.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Stamps of earlier posts

My collection is spread over a large number of albums, sheets, packets, display cards etc and I have been trying to get the material into some order and scan for uploading on future blogs.  I found that I have several stamps of previous posts.  So here are some of the scans.

Souvenir sheets issued  to commemorate 75th Anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers.






se-tenant pair of stamps  issued by the US

Stamp showing Bleriot & his plane issued by Romania in the Aviation history set in 1978


Republic of Equatorial Guinea 

Otto Lilienthal Stamps

Czechoslovakia - part of a set issued in 1977 to promote PRAGA 78
Part of the Romania History of Aviation issue of 1978


Part of the Zaire issue to commemorate 75th anniversary of powered flight.
Stamp also shows Leonardo da Vinci and his sketches for flying vessels



Upper Volta

Zaire's issue to commemorate conquest of Air shows the Wright Flyer and 
Santos-Dumont's bis-14


Monday, October 5, 2009

Pioneers of Aviation 1900-10

During the years 1900 - 1910 a number of inventors made or claimed to have made short flights.

One of those who missed the record books was Jacob Christian Ellehammer, as Danish engineer and inventor, whose kite like bi-plane flew a distance of 137 feet at a height of about 20 ins off the ground at Lindholm Island in September, 1906.  The 'flight' was most probably a series of hopping glides, but had it been officially witnessed and recorded, Ellehammer may well have been the first to fly an aeroplane in Europe.  That distinction was won by Santos-Dumont a month later!

Stamp issued  by Denmark in 1956 to mark the 50th anniversary of J.C. Ellehammer's flight.

Ellehammer's later inventions included a successful triplane and helicopter. His helicopter was a coaxial machine. A famous photo shows it hovering in 1914, though there is no evidence that it was successful in achieving translational flight.

1914 photo of Ellehammer's coaxial helicopter hovering


Monday, September 28, 2009

Pioneer of Aviation: Otto Lilienthal

For various reasons I have not been able to  post  for some time.  Best of intentions seem to go awry.  

Continuing the saga of the pioneers of aviation...........

The flying bug bit quite a few in Europe who experimented in different ways to fly.  One of the early steps was gliding.

One of the most successful of the of the nineteenth century 'bird-men' was Otto Lilienthal,  a German who made determined efforts to fly with wings.  He studied the flight of birds and published his theories and conclusions in his famous  book Birdflight .

He was the first person to make repeated successful gliding flights and came to be known as the Glider King.  Newspapers and magazines in many countries published photographs of Lilienthal gliding, favorably influencing public and scientific opinion about the possibility of flying machines becoming practical reality after ages of idle fantasy and unscientific tinkering.

 Lilienthal 's greatest contribution was the development of heavier-than-air flight. He madeover 2000 glides experimenting with various forms of winged craft.  His glides were  from an artificial hill he built near Berlin, and also from natural hills, especially in the Rhinow region. Lilienthal succeeded in making sustained flights of upto 700 to 800 feet from hilltops.  He was the first to make use of cambered wings and virtually the first to use wings with positive results.   

As an inventor Lilienthal had invented a small engine, the "Otto" motor and might have well been the first to fly a powered aircraft.   Unfortunately, his career was cut short on 9th August, 1896

 when he fell from a height of 56 feet.his injuries proved fatal and he passed away the next day.

Stamp issued by Germany in 1934 with his picture and his gliding attempt in the background..

His achievements inspired the Wright Brothers to become the pioneers of powered flight.  They  credited him as a major inspiration for their decision to pursue manned flight. However, they abandoned his aeronautical data after two seasons of gliding and began using their own wind tunnel data

  A stamp issued by Germany in 1978.

 Special postmark for the stamp issue.

Hungarian stamp showing Otto Lilienthal in the background

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Alberto Santos-Dumont

One of the pioneers who made France the centre of the aviation world in the early 20th century, was Alberto Santos-Dumont, who was a Brazilian. He was an aeronaut who built balloons and dirigible airships and thence moved to heavier-than-air aircraft. He designed and built an aircraft he named 14-Bis - French word for 'again' or 'encore' as it was built after his 14th airship.

Photograph of the first flight
Alberto Santos-Dumont flew into the records book on 23rd October, 1906 when he flew his 14-bis plane at Bagatelle, near Paris, for over 200 feet at an altitude of about 10 feet. This was the first officially recognized heavier-than-air flight in Europe and earned him the first of the aviation prizes, 3,000 francs for a 25-meter-or-greater flight.

Alberto Santos-Dumont was born on July 20, 1873 and died on July 23, 1932

On 12th November, 1906 Santos-Dumont flew 700 feet at an altitude of almost 13 feet thus qualifying for the second aviation prize offered for heavier-than-air-aircraft, 1,000 francs for a flight of 100 meters or more.

Brazilian stamp issued in 1929 shows the 14-bis and the date of 12 November 1906.

Set of 4 stamps issued by Brazil on the 50th anniversary of Alberto Santos Dumont's 14-bis

Stamps issued by Uruguay for the 50th Anniversary of Santos-Dumont's 1906 flight

First in the Air, first on the Moon. Brazil marked the Moon Landing in 1969 with this stamp showing Santos-Dumont's aviation achievement vis a vis the
Landing on the Moon

Wallis & Futuna Islands issued this stamp to mark the birth centenary of Santos-Dumont. The stamp shows his airship also the 14-bis.

French stamp issed to mark Santos-Dumont's birth centenary shows the progress of his aviation exploits from Balloons to Airships to dirigibles to heavier-than-air aircraft.

This stamp issued by SanMarino shows the Demoiselle monoplane, the last plane Santos-Dumont designed. He used this as his personal transportation. It could attain speed of over 100 km/hr

Stamps issued by Brazil to commemorate Santos-Dumont birth centenary

14-bis on an old postcard

Wright Flyer II

Some stamps depicting the Wright Flyers

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Wright Brothers

Four flights were made on that historic day 17th December, 1903, Here is Orville Wright’s account of the final flight of the day:

Wilbur started the fourth and last flight at just about 12 o'clock. The first few hundred feet were up and down, as before, but by the time three hundred feet had been covered, the machine was under much better control. The course for the next four or five hundred feet had but little undulation. However, when out about eight hundred feet the machine began pitching again, and, in one of its darts downward, struck the ground. The distance over the ground was measured to be 852 feet (260 m); the time of the flight was 59 seconds. The frame supporting the front rudder was badly broken, but the main part of the machine was not injured at all. We estimated that the machine could be put in condition for flight again in about a day or two.

Unfortunately, after the fourth flight a powerful gust of wind flipped the machine several times severely damaging it. The machine never flew again Years later Orville restored and lent it to various locations for display.

There were 5 witnesses to the first flights, among them John Daniels who took the famous picture of the first flight.

The Wright Brothers’ claim to be the first to fly a powered aircraft was disputed for years after their first epic flight. The Smithsonian Institution of America did not recognize their claim to the first heaver-than-air machine. The extent of the dispute can be seen in the fact that the historic Flyer was on display at the Science Museum in London and not at the Smithsonian. It was returned to the US only in 1948. and is now displayed at the National Air Museum, Washington D.C.

FDC of an airmail stamp issued by the US in 1949 on the 46th anniversary of the first powered flight of the Wright Flyer. The cover cachet however, commemorates the return of the plane to the US which took place in 1948.

For years after the historic first flight and hundreds of flights thereafter the world refused to acknowledge their achievements. Eye-witness accounts were treated with skepticism. Part of the reason could be their refusal to reveal details of their machine. The Wright Brothers were not wealthy and hoped their invention would make money for them.

In 1904, the brothers built a new aircraft naming it the Flyer II. Several experimental flights to take flying to the next plane. On 20th September , 1904, Wilbur flew the first complete circle in history by a manned powered machine, covering 4,080 feet in about a minute and a half. However, Flyer II was often out of control. So they decided to scrap it and built a new machine Flyer III using the same old engine. But they made important design changes which enabled better control. In October Wilbur made the longest flight of 24.5 miles in 38 minutes and 3 seconds

The only ones who witnessed these flights were close family and a few neighbours. None were witnessed by reporters so they went largely unreported in the press. However, reports slowly trickled out but were considered fantasy. In fact the Paris edition of the Herald Tribune headlined a 1906 article on the Wrights "FLYERS OR LIARS?"

All that changed when Wilbur demonstrated the latest bi plane on August 8, 1908 Le Mans, France. Wilbur was elegantly attired in a cloth cap, stiff collar and smart tie as he is often depicted. His first flight lasted only one minute 45 seconds, but his ability to effortlessly make banking turns and fly a circle amazed and stunned onlookers. The demonstrations were attended by several crowned heads of Eurpoe including King Edward VII. Also present were pioneer French aviators, among them Louis Bleriot. In the following days Wilbur made a series of technically challenging flights including figure-eights, demonstrating his skills as a pilot and the capability of his flying machine, which far surpassed those of all other pilot pioneers. The plane was a two seater so Wilbur carried passengers on some flights. On one occasion he remained in the air for 2 hours and 20 minutes and won a prize of 20,000 francs offered by the French patron M. Michelin.

FDC of stamp issued by USA to mark the Golden Jubilee of the first powered flight