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Transportation Science Technology

For Jane's, Gustav Weißkopf's 1901 Liftoff Displaces Wright Bros. 267

Posted by timothy
from the ahem-there's-been-a-development dept.
gentryx writes "Newly found evidence supports earlier claims that Gustave Whitehead (a German immigrant, born Gustav Weißkopf, with Whitehead being the literal translation of Weißkopf) performed the first powered, controlled, heavier-than-air flight as early as 1901-08-14 — more than two years before the Wrights took off. A reconstructed image shows him mid-flight. A detailed analysis of said photo can be found here. Apparently the results are convincing enough that even Jane's chimes in. His plane is also better looking than the Wright Flyer I." (And when it comes to displacing the Wright brothers, don't forget Alberto Santos Dumont.)
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For Jane's, Gustav Weißkopf's 1901 Liftoff Displaces Wright Bros.

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  • What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:38PM (#43128555)

    That is rowboat with some kind of wings attached. Not flying wings but insect wings. Is this some kind of joke?

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by samkass (174571) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:54PM (#43128619) Homepage Journal

      That is rowboat with some kind of wings attached. Not flying wings but insect wings. Is this some kind of joke?

      No, it's conspiracy theorists at its best. Here's the actual analysis that went into the re-creation of the photo linked above:
      http://www.gustave-whitehead.com/history/detailed-photo-analysis/ [gustave-whitehead.com]

      As you can see, it's pretty much the "computer... magnify, rotate, enhance" sort of photo manipulation that "proves" flight. Whitehead was definitely a pioneer in aviation. But there is absolutely no evidence he created a steerable machine or even understood differential lift to cause banking in a plane to accomplish a curved, controlled, coordinated turn in flight like the Wright machine was able to accomplish.

      Other people had been in the air before flight in gliders and on ground effect. A Frenchman named Ader lifted off the ground (barely) first, to disastrous consequences earlier (he, too, based his plane on a bird/bat design instead of scientific analysis and was unable to control it in flight). It was actually the earlier failures of Ader, Langley, and others that caused so many problems when the Wrights tried to sell their planes to the US and French military, who had seen the earlier failures and couldn't believe a couple of bicycle mechanics had cracked the problems of efficient propellers, steering, proper wing camber, and usable controls.

      It was only after there was competition from aircraft manufacturers trying to invalidate the Wright patent that all this prior art suddenly magically materialized. The Wrights never lost a case.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        Then please explain the 85 newspaper articles from the time which all agree that Whitehead flew many times in 1901/1902. To disprove those you'd have to be the conspiracy theorist! It's only now that the records have been digitised is it so easy to find them. The Wright brothers and anyone seeking to disprove their claims wouldn't have been able to find these articles with anything close to the ease of today. The Wright brothers were excellent, but they were simply not the first nor the best.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by painandgreed (692585)

          Then please explain the 85 newspaper articles from the time which all agree that Whitehead flew many times in 1901/1902.

          True enough. I have a stack of World Weekly News and Paranoia! Magazine that support those findings.

        • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Spy Handler (822350) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @11:56PM (#43129009) Homepage Journal

          I'm sure the newspaper articles are right and that Whitehead did fly. However what definition of "fly" were they using?

          With the 20 HP motor, Whitehead probably had no problem lifting off the ground at least a few feet. The people watching would've been excited and certainly would've told others that they saw a machine fly.

          But are we talking about sustained, controllable flight here? Or just hovering in ground effect in a straight line? Look at the picture with the bat wings and tell me -- if you know anything about aerodynamics at all -- what would've happened the first time that thing banked into a turn.

          • I'm sure the newspaper articles are right and that Whitehead did fly. However what definition of "fly" were they using?

            With the 20 HP motor, Whitehead probably had no problem lifting off the ground at least a few feet. The people watching would've been excited and certainly would've told others that they saw a machine fly.

            But are we talking about sustained, controllable flight here? Or just hovering in ground effect in a straight line? Look at the picture with the bat wings and tell me -- if you know anything about aerodynamics at all -- what would've happened the first time that thing banked into a turn.

            I heard it didn't even onboard wifi. Is flying without internet access really flying?

          • by jeremyp (130771)

            With the 20 HP motor

            The engine in the Wright Flyer was 12 HP.

            But are we talking about sustained, controllable flight here? Or just hovering in ground effect in a straight line? Look at the picture with the bat wings and tell me -- if you know anything about aerodynamics at all -- what would've happened the first time that thing banked into a turn.

            From TFA

            After rigging the machine, Whitehead took off at dawn (5:02am), flying first half a mile, then on his second flight, a mile and a half at a height of 50 feet, making a shallow turn along the way to avoid a clump of chestnut trees.

            Sounds controlled to me.

        • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:37AM (#43129141)
          For you to be correct, the other people who actually flew first would have had to never heard about the news of the Wright Brothers. How likely is that? Otherwise, we'd have heard of the controversy, after all, we did hear about the others that complained, so I'd consider proof he did not complain. That doesn't seem likely at all.

          The simplest explanation is that the Wright Brothers were first, and others were vying for attention, but none "flew" they just fell with style.
        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:40AM (#43129147) Homepage Journal

          Keyword is "practical". The Wright brothers did not fly a practical plane. All that they did, was groundwork that helped others to develop a real, practical plane.

          I'm not convinced that Gustaf did anything remarkable, nor am I convinced that he did NOT do anything remarkable. The images in the citations are not impressive. Someone would have to copy it, and make it fly, for me to be impressed.

          Let's remember, there were snake oil salesmen by the thousands back in the day. And, rainmakers. And, yes, they even had politicians back then. I need a little proof before I believe the thing in those images actually flew. I don't even require that it's flight time equals that of the Wright brothers. Just get it off the ground, under it's own power, and I'll accept that it can fly. Fifteen feet, fifty feet, five hundred feet of flight - none of it can happen if the damned thing won't get off the ground.

          I'm just not a snake oil purchaser. I want videos, photos, and eyewitnesses by the score.

        • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:17AM (#43130293) Homepage

          vThen please explain the 85 newspaper articles from the time which all agree that Whitehead flew many times in 1901/1902.

          Since when are newspapers absolutely reliable and unimpeachable sources? Newspapers trumpeted the discovery of N-rays [wikipedia.org] and the Cardiff Giant [wikipedia.org] too. No, then as now, the media prints and repeats all manner of daft and dodgy material. This goes double when they had no reliable manner of fact checking third party accounts. Sex, celebrity, scandal, and sensationalism sells, now, then, and likely forever...
           
          There's a book floating about that tells the tale of Titanic from contemporary newspaper accounts, and it's sobering how wrong so many of them of were.
           

          It's only now that the records have been digitised is it so easy to find them.

          Which is what makes me suspicious as hell... you'd think something so widely anticipated as powered, heavier than air flight would have much more widely reported. You'd also suspect that (as happened with the Wright Brothers), when it was widely reported - anywhere from dozens to hundreds of copycats would emerge relatively quickly. The newspapers would then, as they did after the Wright Brothers, report on those as well.
           
          What you wouldn't expect if for it to vanish without a ripple.
           

          To disprove those you'd have to be the conspiracy theorist!

          They can't be conclusively disproved, no. But only a conspiracy theorist would accept that as 'proof', as they can't conclusively be proven either. That leaves the researcher to turn to other materials - materials noticeably absent in this case. This is why the supporters of this notion had to resort to photo manipulation and 'analysis' of a degree that would make even "Face on Mars" and "We Never Went to the Moon" nutters blush.

          • Wright's 1903 flight was not widely reported/known until a few years later. People at the turn of the century already had gliders, hot air balloons, and dirigibles. Hot air balloons were used in the civil war and of course well before that too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MobileC (83699)

        It was only after there was competition from aircraft manufacturers trying to invalidate the Wright patent that all this prior art suddenly magically materialized. The Wrights never lost a case.

        And since then, all planes have used wing warping for controlled flight.

        Oh, hang on...

      • As you can see, it's pretty much the "computer... magnify, rotate, enhance" sort of photo manipulation that "proves" flight.

        I think that's being generous.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      A boat-plane-car, the ultimate vehicle!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The airframe is very similar to O. Lilienthal gliders, which actually flew.

      This story is acknowledged by Jane's All the World's Aircraft which I think is a reliable authority, including the stinky deal "the Smithsonian shall [not state] any aircraft...earlier than the Wright aeroplane of 1903...was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight"
      http://www.janes.com/products/janes/defence-security-report.aspx?ID=1065976994 [janes.com]

  • Another first? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:39PM (#43128559) Homepage

    First use of Unicode characters in Slashdot?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by davester666 (731373)

      It was hardcoded. Somebody had to directly edit the row in MySQL to insert the non-alphanumeric ascii character into it.

      • by flyneye (84093) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @10:14PM (#43128691) Homepage

        Well, shieße! you learn something new everyday.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          die FR1ßT POßTEN!

          • So, I guess the username/password is posted somewhere? Or maybe they are given out for getting a certain achievement? Or it just uses the defaults?

            Everyone and their dog seems to be able to access it.

        • Well, shieße! you learn something new everyday.

          The S Sharp is U+00DF, and thus part of ISO 8859-1; maybe that's what they're allowing? Here go a few more: ñ ® ÿ

          Lowercase ÿ goes through; uppercase Y with umlaut/diaresis doesn't. Euro sign € goes through. The "universal currency symbol" U+00A4 doesn't.

          Conclusion: it's ISO 8859-15.

          And I'm sure it should be Scheiße; the German Language capitalizes all Nouns.

    • Good spotting! Looks like the umlauts got converted to the HTML encoding of Unicode automatically. I had totally forgotten to use the abominations of ß (for ß) and friends.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:41PM (#43128569)

    It's not just about discovery, but about sharing that discovery. Lots of people made it to the Americas before Columbus, but because his discovery of it became well known, he gets credit. If I invent practical cold fusion in my back yard but never share that, well, then I deserve to be forgotten.

    • by blue trane (110704) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:55PM (#43128623) Homepage Journal

      Mendel tried to share. Wegener tried to share. Aristarchus of Samos tried to share. Society chose to cover their ears, close their eyes, and sing "la la la".

      • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @11:36PM (#43128943)

        Mendel tried to share. Wegener tried to share. Aristarchus of Samos tried to share. Society chose to cover their ears, close their eyes, and sing "la la la".

        Schrader, Ambrose, Rüdiger and van der Linde also tried to share their discovery, but ultimately, the German High command decided not to use nerve agents against allied targets in WWII.

        Some things should not be "shared".

    • by dmbasso (1052166) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @10:21PM (#43128709)

      While the Wright Brother's first reaction was to patent the invention, Santos Dumont freely spread his schematics and helped people who wanted to copy his inventions, in the true spirit of sharing knowledge (like Free Software). So by your own definition the W.B. should be forgotten...

      • So by your own definition the W.B. should be forgotten

        I'm not the AC, however patents are not secrets, by design they "share knowledge" with the general public. What the WBs did differently to the others is they monopolised the commercial opportunities.

      • Since both were based on Hargrave's box kite which had been firmly placed in the public domain by the inventor it would have been impolite to fence off the commons and patent derivatives of the design.
  • Richard Pearse (Score:4, Informative)

    by taniwha (70410) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:41PM (#43128571) Homepage Journal

    let's not forget Richard Pearse too

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Pearse [wikipedia.org]

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      There were quite a few "crashers" around that time. People flew, but rarely in a "controlled" manner.

      Although the Wrights' earliest flights were arguably not very well documented either, they continued with improvements on the same design and within a couple of years finally stunned large crowds in European air shows with their maneuverability that was completely unmatched by others. Thus, there was a chain of stronger and stronger evidence and witnesses.

      The true "first" may be forever debatable, but it wa

  • Smithsonian (Score:5, Informative)

    by jazman_777 (44742) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:41PM (#43128573) Homepage
    Has a deal to display one of the early Wright flyers. The deal stipulates that the Smithsonian MUST present the Wright brothers as the first. Period.

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Whitehead [wikipedia.org]

    "When the Flyer was finally brought back and presented to the Smithsonian in 1948, the museum and the executors of the Wright estate signed an agreement (popularly called a "contract") in which the Smithsonian promised not to say that any airplane before the Wrights' was capable of manned, powered, controlled flight.[37][note 5] This agreement was not made public."
    • History at its finest. And we call it a science.

      http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_is_history_a_science [answers.com]

        I would wish they taught shit like this to science graduates. So many miss this lesson.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
      I love how your conspiracy theory conveniently ignores the fact that the Wright Brothers studied aerodynamics, which was why their aircraft flew and others' did not. That flying rowboat in the photo is not aerodynamic at all. Tell you what, you build a reproduction and make it fly. Others will build a Wright Flyer...oh wait they've already done that and it flies.
    • Re:Smithsonian (Score:5, Informative)

      by westlake (615356) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @11:17PM (#43128881)
      You are leaving out of the story a singular example of fraud and collusion between the Smithsonian and Glenn Curtiss.

      With Smithsonian approval, Glenn Curtiss extensively modified the Aerodrome and made a few short flights in it in 1914, as part of an unsuccessful attempt to bypass the Wright Brothers' patent on aircraft and to vindicate Langley. Based on these flights, the Smithsonian displayed the Aerodrome in its museum as the first heavier-than-air manned, powered aircraft "capable of flight." This action triggered a feud with Orville Wright (Wilbur Wright had died in 1912), who accused the Smithsonian of misrepresenting flying machine history. Orville backed up his protest by refusing to donate the original 1903 Kitty Hawk Flyer to the Smithsonian, instead donating it to extensive collections of the Science Museum of London in 1928. The dispute finally ended in 1942 when the Smithsonian published details of the Curtiss modifications to the Aerodrome and recanted its claims for the aircraft.

      Langley Aerodrome [wikipedia.org]

      Langley's simple approach was merely to scale up the unpiloted Aerodromes to human-carrying proportions. This would prove to be a grave error, as the aerodynamics, structural design, and control system of the smaller aircraft were not adaptable to a full-sized version. Langley's primary focus was the power plant. The completed engine, a water-cooled five-cylinder radial that generated a remarkable 52.4 horsepower, was a great achievement for the time.

      Despite the excellent engine, the Aerodrome A, as it was called, met with disastrous results, crashing on takeoff on October 7, 1903, and again on December 8. Langley blamed the launch mechanism. While this was in some small measure true, there is no denying that the Aerodrome A was an overly complex, structurally weak, aerodynamically unsound aircraft. This second crash ended Langley's aeronautical work entirely.

      Langley Aerodrome A [si.edu]

      Achieving dynamic control in three dimensions was the Wrights' great obsession.

      They were as intensely focused on learning how to fly as they were on the evolution and refinement of their mechanical designs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JBMcB (73720)

      If you are getting your info from the Whitehead site, the guy seems like a bit of a quack:

      Quote from:
      http://www.gustave-whitehead.com/history-of-whitehead-critics/ [gustave-whitehead.com]
      "Interestingly, Wright (or his attorney) tried to be too clever when tying up the Smithsonian, and the latter's trustees, apparently, failed to notice the blunder: By referring to "any aircraft" and not "airplane", the document prohibits the Smithsonian from even admitting that, since 1852, dozens of dirigable airships (indisputably 'craft of the

  • Yeah, right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:42PM (#43128577) Journal

    That looks like an absolute fake... I'd love the engineering analysis to show if that things could conceivably fly.

    • Re:Yeah, right (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CncRobot (2849261) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @10:07PM (#43128671)

      One of the articles shows two differnet replicas being built and flown 1986 and 1998 in USA and Germany.
      The only issue I have with it is the engine that would have been needed to get it in the air shouldn't have existed then. It appears the original engines he used no longer exist, so it will remain a mystery. The claims he made on engine weight and HP are quite a bit ridiculous for the time. As for the design of the plane, it could easily fly, but wouldn't be my first choice to try out, maybe if it had a larger rudder because in a slight wind it would probably be impossible to land.

    • Re:Yeah, right (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Grayhand (2610049) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @10:18PM (#43128701)
      There are stories about bigfoot sightings from the 1800s. Are we now all supposed to believe that bigffot is real based on those articles?
      • by chrismcb (983081)
        No no no no no... You are supposed to believe the bigfoot is real based on a blurry photo. And Nessie too.
    • I don't think it could. It was a monoplane with two engines (one diesel) and the wing design looks like it would not provide much lift at all. Plus the fuselage looks like it would have a lot of drag.

      I call bullshit

  • Picking nits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JBMcB (73720) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:58PM (#43128633)

    Might be overly critical, but from the picture it looks an awful lot like that thing is gliding off the top of a hill. That's quite a bit different than lifting off of a flat surface.

    How "reconstructed" is that photograph, anyway? That fence in the foreground looks weird.

    • Re:Picking nits (Score:5, Informative)

      by Psychotria (953670) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @10:09PM (#43128679)

      The reconstructed photo is a montage of known images stuck together to match the analysis of the highly magnified zoomed portions of the photos. Seriously.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by a_hanso (1891616)

      How "reconstructed" is that photograph, anyway? That fence in the foreground looks weird.

      You have a good eye! That's the first thing that struck me as well. Look at the top left corner of the nearest fence post at about 150% magnification. That looks like poor cropping. And the illumination on it doesn't match ambient lighting. The "graining" on the fence doesn't match the rest of the image either. AND look at the bottom edge of the photo. Looks like the image continues below the black line, but the fence doesn't. Why the heck would somebody bother adding it? Not like it contributes anything to

      • by Cochonou (576531)
        Instead of doing forensics analysis, you might want to RTFA. The image is a reconstruction. It's a montage of other pictures. Of course, you are going to find a lot of discrepancies....
    • Contemporary newspaper reports (85+ of them!), including that from an eye-witness, Chief Editor of the Bridgeport Herald, says it took off from a flat surface:

      http://www.janes.com/products/janes/defence-security-report.aspx?ID=1065976994 [janes.com]

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @10:07PM (#43128669)
    When Cletus Leadbetter's whiskey still exploded in October 17 1893 it's said he flew a half mile and was able to control his flight by flapping his coat. They are still debating whether his coat flapping was to control his flight or to put out his burning backside.
  • by shoor (33382) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @10:23PM (#43128715)

    I watched a multi-part documentary on TV about the development of aircraft, emphasis on military aircraft, but there was talk about the Wright Bros and Santos-Dumont also. What I particularly remember is that one commentator said that while others were getting things off the ground, it was the Wright Brothers who understood the inherit instability of a plane. Others thought of a plane as a bit like a boat in the water, but the Wrights had been bicycle mechanics, and knew that one had to constantly control a bicycle, and they studied how birds, for example, had to constantly adjust their wings. What impressed people at the 1908 Paris Air Show wasn't just that the plane flew, but that it was so maneuverable, doing figure 8s, that kind of thing.

    • sorry to rain on your parade, but the Wrights did not know about stability. All their planes were instable in pitch. Without constant corrections by the pilot, all Flyers could not fly in a straight line. What did they do to correct this? Put a ballast weight in the back of the plane! This helped in so far as it increased the pitch inertia, so the pitch motion would be slower and thus more easily controllable, but it also shows that they did not understand the basics of stability. http://authors.library.c [caltech.edu]
      • by jkflying (2190798)

        Yup, they had no clue about aerodynamic stability. They should have added weight at the front, then increased the upwards pitch of their canard. *That* would have resulted in a stable aircraft.

    • , it was the Wright Brothers who understood the inherit instability of a plane. Others thought of a plane as a bit like a boat in the water, but the Wrights had been bicycle mechanics, and knew that one had to constantly control a bicycle,

      As a cyclist, that makes sense. It could also explain the instinct to change direction by banking rather than simply turning the vehicle in the plane, as one would do with a 4-wheeled vehicle on land, or through use of a rudder with a boat. As anyone who has ever ridde

  • I can agree with every one of their photo interpretations, except for the important one. That one, to me, looks like a plane suspended in a room (or, maybe, held up by several people). In other words, it looks like an exhibit, not a plane in flight.

  • by sdo1 (213835) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @11:23PM (#43128899) Journal

    ... it's falling. With style.

    -S

  • We call BS! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by srg33 (1095679) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @11:38PM (#43128951)

    I don't know if the Wright brothers were first or not. But, I do know that this "re-creation" is BS. I read TFA and carefully viewed the images. There is nothing that actually shows the darn thing flying and there are many clear photographs of it on the ground. Someone mentioned evidence in court. Well, I am an attorney and this case is a laugher!

  • by paiute (550198) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:10AM (#43129053)
    Few people know that when Columbus reached Hispaniola he couldn't get a berth because the harbor was filled with Vikings, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Chinese, etc.

    And the Wright brothers couldn't get clearance from the tower due to all the other aviators being in the air already.
  • by Bitsy Boffin (110334) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:49AM (#43129189) Homepage
    Interesting that the Smithsonian has denied researcher access to photos it holds which could clear up the matter...

    "The William J. Hammer Collection is located at the Smithsonian Institute, Researchers are denied access: Hammer Collection archival note denying access to researchers"

    you would think that they would at least make copies available. What good are the photos if they are locked away in a vault where nobody can ever look at them?

    • From the Jane's article:

      Secondly, as was only disclosed much later, under sanction of a Freedom of Information request by Senator Lowell Weicker Jr, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington - undisputed repository of American aviation history - secured possession of the precious Wright Flyer No. 1 from surviving brother Orville only after agreeing in a legally-binding document that "the Smithsonian shall [not state] any aircraft...earlier than the Wright aeroplane of 1903...was capable of carrying a man unde

      • by evilviper (135110)

        "the Smithsonian shall [not state] any aircraft...earlier than the Wright aeroplane of 1903...was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight". History is normally written by researchers who have dispassionately analysed all relevant data and not, as here, by the lawyers of interested parties.

        That was a perfectly reasonable restriction to put in-place, considering the bad faith the Smithsonian had shown in the years before, a protracted legal battle over falsely trying to promote one

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      Exactly the right (Wright?) point.

      From TFA:
      The William J. Hammer Collection is located at the Smithsonian Institute: http://airandspace.si.edu/research/arch/findaids/pdf/william_j_hammer_collection_finding_aid.pdf [si.edu]
      Researchers are denied access:

      My thoughts precisely; what good are photos that can never be viewed?
      The Smithsonian has (in my personal experience) always been a strong partner of digitization and research. Unless and until they release those photos, the 'interpretation' of the photos - as assiduou

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:12AM (#43129249)

    CSI would have enhanced those pictures enough to read the label on Gustav's clothing. Don't know why Jane's is sticking with blurry pictures when TV proves they can do better.

  • Controlled flight (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Baldrson (78598) *
    I don't think anyone literate in aviation history has ever disputed that people have "flown" before the Wrights. The problem they solved with controlled flight. The fact that they were able to get a lightweight engine built is interesting but really secondary. Lots of folks could have built a lightweight engine. What people need to credit the Wrights for is their pioneering work in aerodynamic engineering that led to controlled flight. This was their key contribution.
  • The dispute over *whom* was first aside, two states(North Carolina and Ohio) have tried to take credit for the Wright Brothers' invention. North Carolina provided the field, and Ohio provided everything else.

  • A reconstructed image shows him mid-flight.

    Well, yes, in the same sense that a still from Superman shows him in mid-flight too. As far as I can glean, there was an original photograph, from which a lithograph was made - and lithographers, it would seem from the article, commonly "re-imagined" such scenes for artistic purposes - replacing backgrounds, and the like. Based on other altered lithographs, someone has tried to "undo" these changes (which sounds a dubious method to say the very least) to give an idea of what the original photograph looked l

  • 1) Weight to lift surface ratio--I don't care how thin those boards are, it weighed too much.

    2) Control--no way that wing configuration delivered control.

    At best that thing might have glided a bit--but I doubt it even could do that.

  • From now on all my bad photoshop hacks will be deemed as a "reconstructed image".

Byte your tongue.

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