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