Thursday, July 28, 2011

Aeromodeller 1956-03

Samuel Pierpont Langley, like many of the early pioneers, used aero-models as a basis for his experiments, and was, in fact, the first power modeller to make a flight of any consequence, this in 1896 when he proved with a successful flight of two-thirds of a mile that man-carrying flight in a heavier-than-air machine was a distinct possibility. The true measure of his genius can only be assessed when it is realised that not only did he produce designs and constructional details for the aircraft, but developed what was then a completely new concept in regard to the theory of flight. The story behind this remarkable achievement is best described in the words of Langley himself, written in an article in the Strand Magazine of 1897, but before passing on to the account by Langley, let us briefly sketch the historical background of this remarkable man. Born in Boston, U.S.A. in 1834, he was formerly a civil engineer, abandoning this career for astronomy, becoming a Professor of Astronomy at Western University, Pennsylvania in 1897. Twenty vears later he was chosen Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, and aeromodellers fortunate enough to visit that city should note that one of his models can be seen at the Institute, this particular version powered with a 1 h.p. petrol engine.