Charles H. Lamson’s Aerial Experiments – 1896-97

Charles H. Lamson’s Aerial Experiments – 1896-97

     Charles H. Lamson, (1847-1930), of Portland, Maine, was a successful jeweler, watchmaker, bicycle dealer, and kite inventor.  His kites were not toys, but large-scale, custom-built, flying apparatus that were capable of lifting a man into the air.  He conducted experiments with his kites in the Portland area in the late 1890s, and achieved remarkable results.   Other experiments with Mr. Lamson’s kites were conducted at the Blue Hills Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts.  

Charles H. Lamson – 1896

     The following two newspaper articles relate to Mr. Lamson’s research. 


     This article appeared in The Sun, (New York, N.Y.), on August 21, 1896.  



Leamson’s Kite Carried Up A Dummy Man 600 Feet.


The Rope Broke and Then the Airship Floated Off Gracefully and Came Down Without Jar or Injury to the Make-believe Passenger – Plan of Continuations


     Portland, Me., Aug. 20 – Charles H. Lamson performed a feat here to-day practically demonstrating that a large airship or kite capable of carrying a man can be floated successfully and steadily.  He raised his ship with a dummy man on it 600 feet.  The retaining rope broke when the ship was at that altitude.     

Lamson Kite-Airship – 1896

Had it not been for this break Mr. Lamson would have sent up a man to navigate his ship.  As it was, W. A. Eddy of Bayonne, N. J., an authority on aerial experiments, declared that Lamson’s achievement was the greatest step toward solving the problem of aerial navigation of the age.  Two records, at all events, Lamson made.  He flew the largest kite or airship ever floated.  He carried by means of this kite the heaviest weight to the greatest altitude on record.

     Mr. Lamson has been an experimenter in kite flying and construction for a long time.  He has been in constant correspondence with Lilienthal and other noted authorities for many years.  The kite which made the flight is an invention of Mr. Lamson and is called “The Lamson Airship.”   

     The kite, when in the air, resembles two large oblong boxes parallel to each other and attached to each other in the middle.  It took fifteen men to carry the kite or ship into the field from which it was to be sent up.  The retaining cord was a large braided window cord tested to a pull of 500 pounds.  This was made fast to a huge reel and four men attended to it.  About 400 feet of the rope was run out along the ground, and at a signal from Mr. Lamson the ship was released.  It quivered a moment and then steadily rose skyward. 

     Seated on the car of the ship was a dummy weighted to 150 pounds.  The ship carried it without any perceptible jar.  It rose to an altitude of 600 feet, and was rising steadily when with a sudden gust of wind, snap went the rope, showing that tremendous pressure was brought upon it by the soaring of the ship.  The ship floated out a half mile and descended as easily and gracefully as it went up.  Had a man been in the car he would not have been harmed in the slightest.    

Charles H. Lamson’s
Kite – Airship

     Mr. Lamson in the construction of this ship has followed some of Mr. Hargrave’s ideas.  The point of similarity between the kite and Hargrave’s is in boxing the ends and making it double, that is, with two boxes or “cells,” as Hargrave calls them, with a space between.  This style of kite has great stability when in the air, and when floating freely always settles gently, like a parachute.

     Mr. Lamson built his airship after Hargrave’s general plan, but added improvements of his own to make it more manageable in the enlarged form.  In the first place, the rear cells were hinged on pivots near the center, so that their angle of inclination in reference to the wind and to one another can be changed at will.

     The passenger, by manipulating a lever, can keep the airship on an even keel, make it rise or fall, and direct its course in coming down.  Lateral steering can be accomplished by changing the weight to the other side of the center, the aerial vessel then turning toward the side where the weight is greatest.

     Each pair of wings is like the wings of a bird.  They are also ribbed fore and aft, and covered so that the stream of air can have its full lifting effect following the curve from front to rear, and preventing all shaking or flapping of the fabric. 

     Mr. Lamson’s plan of jointing the aeroplanes or aerocurves makes it possible to attach the flying cord on a bowsprit.  This makes it much easier to float the great kite than by Hargrave’s plan.  Mr. Clayton of Blue Hill Observatory estimated that the kite would pull at least 800 pounds if it were hung as Hargrave advises, but by Mr. Lamson’s arrangement the strain on the cord is greatly reduced, so that a few men can handle it in ordinary winds.

     A heavy windlass loaded with sand bags held the 2,000 feet of cord to-day.  All that was necessary to launch the airship was to raise its forward end a little and take a short run, when it sailed up into the air like a balloon.

     The ship presented a novel and beautiful appearance as it soared gracefully above the heads of 1,500 people, who stood gazing with open mouths at this strange monster of the air.  Nobody, to see the kite on the ground, would ever imagine that it would fly in mid-air, but Lamson demonstrated the fact that it would.  Mr. Eddy and other authorities said that to-day’s performance exceeded anything that Lilienthal or any former leader in this work has done.     

     Mr. Lamson was disappointed at the collapse of the rope, but was pleased at the success of the experiment.  He said:

     “The performance of my airship to-day satisfies me beyond all question that the ship in its present form will always ascend in a fair breeze and will remain flying any length of time under favorable atmospheric conditions; that a kite of this size will sustain and carry a man all night, and that the latter can regulate the direction of the kite in the air and descend.  I do not mean he can propel the kite.  This remains to be discovered, but I mean that, taking advantage of the air currents, he can guide the ship to a very large extent.  By Means of the guiding lever he can regulate the course up or down, and by shifting his weight can curve to the right or left.”


     This next article appeared one year later in the Waterbury Democrat, (Waterbury, CT.), on August 11, 1897.



A Maine Inventor Soars Upward On An Airship


Wind is the Motive Power – He remained Poised in Air at Will and Might Ascend to Any Height He Pleased – He cannot However, Descend at Will.

     Charles H. Lamson of Portland, Me., has demonstrated to the world that he has invented a kite-airship which is capable of raising a man from the ground to almost any height and sustaining him in the air.  the weak point in his invention is that while he can raise himself with his kite at will, he cannot lower himself.  But this defect he hopes soon to remedy.

     The demonstration of his kite’s powers was made in the presence of a number of well-known scientists who have taken much interest in the study of aerial navigation, and they all agree that the results Mr. Lamson has attained are of great interest and value.  They look upon Mr. Lamson’s achievement as a distinct step forward towards the accomplishment of practical aerial navigation.

     Exactly what this last laborer in the field of aeronautics has done is to prove that it is possible for a man to ascend in the air on a kite, taking his seat while the kite remains stationary on the ground and then rising easily and safely with it on its upward flight.  Men have been sustained on kites before, but in all previous cases the kite has first been sent up into the air and the rider afterwards hauled up to it by means of pulleys and ropes. 

     Mr. Lamson’s kite sails away with its passenger, and if he could make come down when he wanted to, aerial flight would be, at least, a partial success. 

     The kite weighs about 100 pounds, and its rider sits in a boat-shaped car, which is suspended from between the two sets of box kites.  Attached to the bottom of this car are two bicycle wheels, by means of which the kite can be moved along the ground without danger of breaking the structure.  The axils are so placed that when the supporting surfaces are folded down the kite may be moved about by one man.   

     Mr. Lamson has made two ascensions, rising each time to about fifty feet from the ground and remaining poised in the air for fully half an hour each time.  He intends to add to his kite a feature which will make it possible for the rider in the car to raise and lower it at will so that it will either ascend or descend at his pleasure.  He will do this by passing a cord around the bowsprit of the machine and attaching one end of it to the forward sail, while the other end passes through the pulley in the guiding line and back into the rider’s hands.  Mr. Lamson refuses to say just what he thinks may be developed from this airship-kite of his, but he believes it will be possible for a man to ascend to almost any height in the air and remain there as long as he wishes and then descend to the ground in safety by pulling the cord, which will be attached to the forward sail.

     Last year Congress appropriated a certain sum of money to be expended in experiments with kites by the Blue Hill (Mass.) Meteorological Station and at this point , the kites furnished by Mr. Lamson are being used.  They are sent up into the clouds a thousand feet or more above the earth, and have instruments attached to them for recording temperature and the direction of air currents and other interesting data.              

Leopold Goldberger’s Airship – 1904

Leopold Goldberger’s Airship – 1904

     The following newspaper article appeared in The St. Louis Republic, (St. Louis, Mo.), on January 18, 1904. 


     Republic Special

     Boston, Mass., Jan. 17 – In a 30-foot cigar-shaped airship, the model of which he has just completed, Leopold Goldberger, a 22-year-old Hungarian, who came to Boston three months ago, says he is going to fly from this city to St. Louis and compete for the $100,000 airship prize.

     Goldberger’s ship will be of oiled silk in a meshwork of oiled cord, and will be filled with gas through a tube.  This is to be closed to prevent the escape of the gas, which can be utilized over and over again by the engine, in the center beneath the cabin.  There will be a wheel in the stern like the propeller of a steamer and one on each side like paddle wheels.  Each side wheel is to have half a dozen steel blades, two of which are at right angles, the others at 45-degree angles.

     The engine for the airship, Goldberger says, is being built for him in Budapest, and he expects that this machine will fly sixty-five miles an hour.  

Charles M. Davis’s Flying Machine – 1906

Charles M. Davis’s Flying Machine – 1906

     The following newspaper article appeared in the Daily Capitol Journal, (Salem, Oregon), on February 6, 1906.  Brighton is a neighborhood of Boston. 


     Boston, Feb. 6 – Scientists and inventors in this city are highly interested in the announcement just made that Charles M. Davis of Brighton, has invented a flying machine which is constructed on entirely new and original principles and is said to promise remarkable results.  The inventor says that his machine is neither a freak nor a fake and will surely do what he expects it to do.  It has neither a gas tank nor a balloon attachment and not even wings, yet, it is said, that the model just completed ascended to any height without danger of a sudden drop.  The inventor has designed the machine primarily for use on a battleship.  The machine will move equally well in the air and in the water and can be easily carried like a life boat.  Three aluminum propellers furnish the motive power in either water or air.  Mr. Davis is trying to get some eastern capitalists interested in his invention and will soon start to build a model on a larger scale.     


Gloucester, MA. – August, 1915

Gloucester, Massachusetts – August, 1915

     The following newspaper article appeared in the Norwich Bulletin, (Norwich, CT.), on August 26, 1915.


     Harold Cates, the aeronaut who figured in the fatal balloon accident at Woodstock fair, and who a few days ago figured in a similar accident at Gloucester, seems to be unfortunate, to say the least.  The following relative to the recent accident appeared in a Boston paper: The parents of John McNeil, the boy who was entangled in a rope attached to a balloon, carried 30 feet into the air and dropped into a tree during the Gloucester day events last Tuesday, entered suit today against the committee in charge of the celebration, asking for $10,000.   The boy was at first believed to be fatally injured, but physicians now say that he will recover and be none the worse for the accident.

     The parents are Mr. and Mrs. John McNeil of 6 Acacia Street.  William A. Pew appeared in court as their attorney.  He attributed the accident to carelessness on the part of agents of the Gloucester day committee and demanded compensation for the boy’s injuries and the anxiety and suffering of his parents.


     The fatal accident at the Woodstock Fair, (Woodstock, Connecticut), mentioned in the article refers to an incident that occurred on September 16, 1913, in which 13-year-old George Bernier was carried aloft after becoming entangled in a rope attached to the balloon.     

The Lake Airships – 1908-09

The Lake Airships – 1908 – 09


     Christopher John Lake, (1847 – 1938), was an inventor, and father of Simon Lake, (1866 – 1945), the man who invented the Lake Submarine Boat. 

     On June 8, 1908, a short article appeared in The Hartford Courant, (Hartford, Ct.), announcing that Simon Lake, “inventor of the Lake submarine boat”, had patented a design for a new type of airship.    

     In the article Simon Lake was quoted as saying, “The new airship will be a combination of the dirigible balloon, the aeroplane, and the helicoppre.  I have been too busy with other work to devote the time that is necessary for building the new airship, and I will give a reward to the man who will build it and relieve me of the task.  I cannot go into the details of the invention at this time, but am satisfied it is one that has solved the problem of aerial navigation.”   

     It’s unknown if Simon’s airship was constructed, but the following article indicates that construction was begun in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on another airship designed by Simon’s father, Christopher Lake. 

     The following article appeared in the Norwich Bulletin, (Norwich, CT.), on September 28, 1909.



Inventor Lake Hopes To Test It During October


     Christopher J. Lake, the flying machine inventor, is completing the construction of his airship at Nutmeg Park, Bridgeport.  His force of mechanics are working daily, getting the invention ready for its first trials next month.  Just when the machine will be completed cannot be stated definitely, but Mr. Lake reiterated his statement that he expected to make his first flight during October.  

     He feels confident of having the machine ready for a trail flight before November 1, and within four weeks he ought to be able to give the first test of the machine.  He is working along novel lines and all of his theories have been demonstrated so that there should be no great question about the ability of the machine to fly. 

     There is a great deal of interest in this “Made in Bridgeport” flying machine which will be a combination of biplane and dirigible balloon.  When the airship is finished and private demonstrations made, Mr. Lake may give the public a chance to see it fly.  He is working now to demonstrate to his own satisfaction that his ideas of aerial navigation are correct.

     If he is successful, he will probably enter into the manufacture of the machines for sale the same as automobiles.  He says that no expert knowledge is required to operate an airship and that they can be manufactured for sale at reasonable cost.  Mr. Lake says that the time is not far distant when airships will be sold for pleasure purposes the same as automobiles, but perhaps not so numerously.  He is spending considerable money in the development of his machine and before the snow flies he may have other aviators at Nutmeg Park, the name of which would be changed to Lake Aerodrome.


     Mr. Lake’s airship project was also mentioned in a publication called, Aeronautics – The American Magazine of Aerial Locomotion.  The brief article stated, “Charles J. Lake, of Bridgeport, father of Capt. Simon Lake, inventor of the Lake submarine boat, is at work on an apparatus of his own design and has secured an option from Stephen C. Osborne, owner of Hippodrome Park, where the new flying machine is to be built and tested.  Several men are now at work there to carry out the ideas of Mr. Lake, but their work is enshrouded in complete mystery, no one being privileged to give out any information in regard to it.


     On September 16, 1909, it was reported in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer that an unidentified man had tried to break into the building where Mr. Lake’s airship was being constructed, but was driven off by a night watchman hired to guard the premises.   



     Hartford Courant, “Lake Invents An Airship”, June 8, 1908

     Norwich Bulletin, “Bridgeport Airship”, September 28, 1909

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “May Shoot Next Time”, September 16, 1909

     Aeronautics – The American Magazine Of Aerial Locomotion, “From Submarine To Airship”, September, 1909, page 111.









Trans-Atlantic Balloon History – 1910

Trans-Atlantic Balloon History – 1910

     Since the first manned balloon ascensions in the late 1700s, aeronauts had been envisioning a time when it would be possible to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air.  With the advent of mechanical flight in the early 1900s it was thought that aviation technology might have reached a point where such a crossing might be possible. 

     The following article appeared in the Evening Star, a defunct Washington, D.C. newspaper, on October 20, 1910.  It illustrates why crossing the ocean was easier said than done, and mentions aeronaut Washington Donaldson, and his unexpected trip to New England.   

     DREAM OF 70 Years


Flight Across Atlantic Hope of Many Persons.


     For the last seventy years there have been numerous projects for crossing the Atlantic Ocean by means of a balloon, but, while several of those engaged in the enterprises expended considerable money in making preparations , only one balloon before that of the Wellman expedition actually made a start.

     Strange as it may appear, the first idea of crossing the Atlantic by means of the old-fashioned spherical balloon came from England, but from such information as is now common property regarding the upper air currents generally blowing over the North Atlantic, such an expedition would be impossible in all but a reversal of conditions, which, in the law of averages, is not likely to happen more than once in ten thousand times.  In a spherical balloon it was recognized after John Wise, a Philadelphia aeronaut, published his studies in the 1840s, that a voyage across the sea from east to west, while not impossible under conditions that were hardly to arise at the psychological moment, was so unlikely to meet with those conditions that it was improbable.

     It was in the year 1840 that Charles Green, a daring English aeronaut, outlined his proposals for crossing the ocean.  Mr. Green offered his services gratuitously if some wealthy persons would finance the project. These patrons of ballooning, however, failed to come forward in the requisite number, and the project went to join the great limbo of great things undone.  Green’s idea, briefly, was to jockey for the right currents of air.  He intended to rise up to meet the current that would carry him in the chosen direction, or would descend to the stratum that would do so. 

Much Ballast Needed      

     Such a plan necessitated an enormous quantity of ballast, and it was pointed out by Tissandler and others that the experienced aeronaut did not, perhaps, count sufficiently on the loss of gas that would follow such a proceeding. They also showed that by making this attempt the balloon could not possibly have the buoyancy necessary for so long a voyage. 

     There seems to be no doubt that Green’s project gave the initiative to John Wise, for in the year 1843 he published his plan for making the voyage across the Atlantic, and having asserted the existence of an almost constantly prevalent wind blowing toward the east, received more attention than such daring projects usually gain.

     In an announcement directed “to all publishers of newspapers on the globe,” Mr. Wise told of his intention to cross the Atlantic in the summer of the following year.  The announcement asked the commanders of seagoing vessels to be on the lookout for him and his balloon, and he admitted that the expedition was daring and dangerous and it success only problematical. 

     It was thirty years afterward before the dream seemed to be on the eve of realization, and at the time when the big airship was being manufactured and arrangements made for the actual voyage, Wise published another book, in which he explained that the trial had not been attempted sooner because of the failure to receive the financial assistance that such an expedition entailed.

     While Wise did not make the voyage in the summer of the year 1844, as he had announced, about that time there appeared in the New York Sun a most wonderful account of a voyage of Monc Mason, Harrison Ainsworth, and one or two others.  This was the now celebrated balloon hoax, written by Poe, and, with the announcement of Wise still in their ears, it required no serious difficulty to make the majority of persons believe that a voyage by balloon across the Atlantic actually had succeeded.   In a day or two the hoax became evident, and even now the story is read with interest because it was constructed on such probable lines that only Jules Verne, in a later time, has succeeded in giving so marvelous a tale.

Prepared For Start      

     In the fall of the year 1873 the great balloon that had been designed by Wise was being made ready for the start in Brooklyn.  Wise was to be the chief of the expedition, and his lieutenant was to be the daring aeronaut and circus acrobat, Washington H. Donaldson.   The balloon followed closely the pattern Wise had advanced thirty years before.  It was not, however, quite so extensive.

     The balloon was said to have a lifting power of 14,000 pounds, and sufficient carrying capacity to permit about 7,000 pounds of ballast and passengers and freight being taken.  In addition to the main aerostat, there was a smaller one, which was intended to supply gas when the main gasbag should need repletion, and when it had been exhausted in this manner it was the intention to cut it up for ballast.

     Hanging below the balloon was a car of two stories in height, in which the passengers, food, and ballast were stowed.  Below this there was a boat weighing 800 pounds, which was to be used in emergency.  Wise already had used a boat under his balloon in his historic voyage across lake Erie, when he was carried along with a hurricane that was terrifying in its violence. 

     The lower room in the car was taken up with ballast and with a windlass to lower and take up the drag rope, which weighed about 600 pounds.  The boat was divided into airtight compartments, and was believed to be practically unsinkable.  Provisions and water for the party for thirty days were taken in.

     After the great balloon had been taken to the ground in Brooklyn where it was to be inflated a series of disappointments beset Wise.  It seemed to be impossible to inflate the huge gasbag.  Several ineffectual attempts were made, and then Samuel A. King, another Philadelphia aeronaut, now the nestor of the whole profession, being in his eighty-third year, was called in, and he succeeded in inflating the aerostat with the hydrogen gas.      

     It was about this time that a disagreement arose between Wise and others connected to the enterprise.  This result, Mr. king always had predicted, would be the end of Wise’s connection with the project, and in the end the balloon was placed in charge of Donaldson, who, while regarded as the most daredevil man who ever went aloft in a balloon, had had so little experience with ballooning that it was said he never would succeed in making the voyage.

Trip Began In Gale     

     There was a fierce gale blowing toward the east when, on the morning of October 6, 1873, the balloon with the expedition on board was cut loose and swiftly sailed toward Europe.  The balloon soon rounded the eastern end of Long Island, where a contrary current of wind changed her course to the north , and the huge aerostat was hurriedly carried over the New England states.  Its farthest northern point was in Massachusetts, when another current caught it and bore it back again.  Finally the balloon came down and its passengers made a landing safely, in a terrible storm, after a voyage of about 500 miles. 

     There were several French projects afterward, but some of these were not balloon projects, but airships, that had not been actually made, but designed.  One of the most interesting of these was a steam airship designed by Nadar, which, although using planes for supporting surfaces, made its ascent or descent by means of a series of vertical screws, the principle which now is being studied in the helicopter designs of airships.

     In the winter of the year 1879 Samuel A. King put into practice his long cherished project of attempting to cross the Atlantic, and it may be said that while that failed he still believes in its possibility.  A syndicate built two giant aerostats, and they were established in a station on Manhattan Beach.  The balloons had each an ascensive force of about 10,000 pounds, and figuring on green’s studies, Mr. king expected to be able to stay in the air long enough to jockey the balloon across the ocean.  The studies, however, showed that there were still some things to be learned.

     While wireless telegraphing had not been discovered at that time, telephony had not only been invented, but was in a small way actually in use in the larger cities, and Mr. King’s balloon had arranged to make use of this new invention: but this, it should be stated, was only used while the balloons were used as captives at the observing station on Manhattan Beach.  They could have no use at sea.

     Some hitch occurred before the time for the starting of the expedition arrived, and Mr. King never made his attempt.  This was the withdrawal of the backers according to Mr. King.      


Boston’s Aeronaut Convention – 1896

Boston’s Aeronaut Convention – 1896

          The following article appeared in The Topeka State Journal, (Topeka, Kansas), on July 18, 1896.


Aeronauts Will Hold A Unique Convention At Boston


Flying Machine Contests


Men of science rom all parts of the world will show the possibilities of aerial navigation.  


     Folks afflicted with the balloon fever will have a chance to indulge the disease to the uppermost limit before long.  An aeronautical convention, the very first of its kind, is to be held in Boston in the early part of September, and flying sharps from all parts of the world will attend to show their fellows what wonderful things they have accomplished in the matter of touring among the clouds.  

     It is almost unnecessary to state that this convention may be the means of causing a revolution in the matter of quick transit.  The men who will attend it are not reckless, untutored spirits; on the other hand they are intelligent scientists who believe that aerial navigation is not only possible but that within a few years it will be a popular reality, indulged in by great financial corporations and by private individuals.  Popular interest in aeronautics has been aroused all over the world by the balloon expedition to the North Pole by Explorer Andree.  recent experiments by meteorological experts in kite flying have also excited the public mind in the matter, and it is fair to presume that when the famous aeronauts convene at Boston their doings will be heralded to all the ends of the earth.

     The convention has been arranged by the Aeronautical Society of Boston.  This is composed of only twenty men, but each one of the twenty is a man skilled in the work of the organization.  The society was only formed in May of 1895.  Professor William H. Pickering, the astronomer of Harvard College, is the president.  He has taken up the study of aeronautics for the purpose of furthering the science of astronomy, believing that the scope of the latter will be enlarged to a limitless degree when astronomers are able to sail above the clouds.  

A Famous Gathering    

     The best known of the scientists who will attend the convention are Herr Otto Lilienthal, of Berlin; Willis L. Moore, Chief of the United States Weather Bureau; A. S. Potter, also of the Weather Bureau’s staff; William A. Eddy, whose many experiments in kite flying have made him famous; J. Woodbridge Davis, inventor of the life-saving kite; Octave Chanute, who has been a recognized authority on flying machines for more than fifty years; Professor S. P. Langley, director of the Smithsonian Institution; Gilbert T. Woglom, of New York; Alexander Graham Bell, of telephone fame, who within the past year or two has given much time to the study of aerial navigation, and possible Laurence Hargrave, of New South Wales.

     Much of the work for the convention arrangements have fallen upon Albert A. ????? will probably take place at Milton, a suburb of Boston.  The reason of the selection of Milton is that there is a fair sized sheet of water near at hand.  All aeronauts have a weakness for making ascents in the vicinity of water.  Experience has taught them that it is pleasanter to fall a few hundred feet into deep water than to smash into the earth.  It is quite probable that if no water were near at hand many of the designers would refuse to show off their flying machines at the competition.

The Competition

     The various contests are classified as follows:

     Prize A – For the kite showing the maximum of lift to the minimum of drift in a breeze having a velocity of more than fifteen miles per hour.

     Prize B – For the kite showing the maximum of lift to the minimum of drift in a breeze having a velocity of less than fifteen miles per hour.

     Prize C – For the kite keeping its equilibrium through the greatest extremes of wind velocity.

     Prize D – For the soaring machine of free flight which, after gaining velocity, shall make the best course.  The excellence of the course to be judged by the maximum length and the minimum of undulation.  Energy may be given to the machine by carrying it to a height. 

     Prize E – For the best self-propelled machine.    

One of Professor Langley’s Flying Machines

     The great interest will center in the flying machines, and according to experts this feature of the program will be a duel between the designs of Professor Langley, of Washington, and Herr Lilienthal, of Berlin.  Professor Langley’s machine is a contradiction of the principles recognized by all of the other designers of flying machines.  In other words, the aim of the average designer is to produce a machine lighter than the air.  Professor Langley believes that the weight of the machine has nothing to do with its flying capacity.  He claims that the great essential is the driving force.  If enough power can be introduced, he argues that a machine of any weight can be driven through the air.

     It was the lowly turkey buzzard that gave this idea to Professor Langley.  On this subject he says; “Did you ever think what a physical miracle it is for such a bird as one of our common turkey buzzards to fly in the way it does?  You may see them any day along the Potomac, floating in the air, with hardly the movement of their feathers.  These birds weigh fro five to ten pounds; they are far heavier than the air they displace; they are absolutely heavier than so many flatirons.”    

A Mysterious Machine       

     Professor Langley has been most reticent about the construction of his machine.  He uses steam as a driving power.  It is in the distribution and form of the solid matter, he says, which allows it to float through the air, and the greater the speed attained the less danger there is of the machine falling.  Less than three months ago Professor Langley sent a small machine on a flight of nearly half a mile through the air in the presence of Alexander Graham Bell.  The machine was built of steel, weighed 24 pounds and measured 14 feet from end to end.  It was 1,000 times heavier than the air supporting it.  Great secrecy attended the experiment, and the world would probably have never known of it had it not been for the enthusiasm of professor bell.  Professor Langley is now at work on a larger and heavier machine, in which the driving power will be much greater.  It is possible that the new machine will be exhibited at the Boston convention.

The Lilienthal Idea  

     Professor Langley does not believe that man has sufficient strength  to fly with artificial wings.  His rival, Herr Lilienthal, does.  His machines are constructed on that idea.  With the Lilienthal machine it is necessary to start the flight from a high hill.  The flyer buckles on the machine, takes a sharp run and jumps into space.  The big wings on the machine are supposed to do the rest.  The novice, when he runs and jumps, usually hits the ground with his face.  Herr Lilienthal has had an artificial hill fifty feet high built near his home at Gros Lichterfelde, a suburb of Berlin.  From this eminence he has made repeated flights of 250 yards.    








Boston Kite Flying Experiments – 1890s

Boston Kite Flying Experiments of the 1890s

     Kite flying experiments intended to further the study of meteorology and aeronautics, as well as influence possible designs for future flying machines, were conducted in the 1890s at the Blue Hills Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts.  The program was administered by the Boston Aeronautical Society, an organization that was founded in the spring of 1895.  The society initially consisted of about twenty members, each considered an expert in their field of research. 

     The mission of the society was to encourage experiments with aerial “machines”, (not necessarily mechanical) and to collect and disseminate knowledge relating to solving the problems of aerial navigation, for it was still a time when manned mechanical flight had not yet been perfected.

     In April of 1896 it was announced that the society had decided to include in its mission the encouragement of research and development of kite design.  As an incentive, the society offered monetary prizes for kites that could perform in certain ways.   

     The kites used in the Blue Hills experiments weren’t toys, but large, well designed, scientific instruments meant to fly at high altitudes to gather atmospheric readings.  On July 4, 1896, it was stated in the Evening Star, a Washington D. C. newspaper, “The Boston Aeronautical Society holds that the kite is a scientific instrument of value, and worthy the attention of those who take an interest in scientific equipment.”

      Some of the kite experiments resulted in kite-altitude records being set. On July 21, 1896, what was described as a “flight of kites” was sent up from the Blue Hills Observatory.  The kites were strung together in tandem, and the uppermost kite soared to the record breaking height of 7,200 feet above sea level according to the altimeter device which had been attached to the string below it.  The observatory, it was said, is situated at 625 feet above sea level.

     During another flight the string connected to the kites broke while they were 2,000 feet in the air, sending them and the attached instruments sailing off and out of sight.  They were later recovered three miles away from their starting point. 

     On August 1st a new kite-altitude record was achieved when a string of kites reached 7,333 feet.   The event was witnessed by fifty members of the Appalachian Club. 

     Not long afterward, a new altitude record of 7,441 feet was established.    

This illustration of William Eddy’s kite configuration as he photographed Boston from above appeared in newspapers of the day.

     One man who came to Boston to participate in the Blue Hills kite experiments was William Abner Eddy, (1850-1909), of Bayonne, New Jersey.  Eddy was the inventor of the “Eddy Kite”; a some-what diamond shaped kite of large proportions which lacked a tail. 

     In August of 1896, Eddy arrived with twenty-two of his kites with the intention of taking aerial photographs of Boston by suspending a camera in the air and working the shutter remotely from the ground.  Mr. Eddy was already credited with taking the first aerial kite photograph in the United States in Bayonne, N.J., on May 30, 1895. 

     Eddy began his photographic trials over Boston on Monday, August 24, from the roof of the post office building, and continued them throughout the week.  The first picture was taken from an altitude of 400 feet, the second at 700 feet, and the next four at 500 feet.

     On August 25, as Eddy was attempting to take his seventh aerial picture over the city, the string to the kites broke, sending all nine kites and his camera crashing to the street, but it was reported that it did not appear that the camera was too badly damaged, or the film compromised.     

     When all of the film plates were later developed, it was found that Mr. Eddy had captured some great aerial views of the Boston Common area, Beacon Street, Commonwealth Avenue, Tremont and Washington Streets, and the Charles River.  Some were taken from an altitude of 1,500 feet.       

     The kites Mr. Eddy employed for the project measured seven feet in diameter and between four to eight were flown at the same time depending on the wind. 

     Besides his camera, Mr. Eddy also attached a self-registering thermometer to record temperatures at different altitudes above the city to be compared with temperatures above the Blue Hills Observatory from kites being flown there during the same time.      

     In the autumn of 1896 further kite experiments were conducted at the Blue Hills Observatory to gather meteorological data.  In these experiments, nine kites attached by piano wire and carrying meteorological instruments reportedly rose to nearly 9,000 feet. 

     One newspaper, The Austin Weekly Statesman, described the process: “The kites were three in number, all of them on this occasion of the Eddy pattern, two of them being at the end of the line and the third some hundreds of feet below.  The kites were of large size, two of them being six feet in their largest dimension, and the third one a monster of nine feet, presenting some 65 square feet of surface to the wind.  This varied from 18 to 31 miles per hour at the surface, and the pull of the wire which held the kites mounted at times to upwards of 125 pounds.” 


     Courier Democrat, (Langdon, N.D.), “Taken From A Kite – Ingenious Method Of Taking Photographs”, August 1, 1895

     Evening Star, (Washington, D. C.), “Kites And Science”, July 4, 1896 

     The Topeka State Journal, (Topeka, Kansas), “Cloud Tourists – Aeronauts Will Hold A Unique Convention In Boston”, July 18, 1896

     The Topeka State Journal, “New Kite Record”, July 25, 1896  

     The Herald, (Los Angeles, CA.), “Great Kite Flying”, August 2, 1896

     The Evening Times, (Washington, D.C.), “Photos From The Sky”, August 24, 1896

     The Sun, (New York, N.Y.), “Eddy’s Kite String Broke”, August 26, 1896

     The Roanoke Daily Times, (Roanoke, VA.), “Kite Photograph Of Boston”, August 27, 1896 

     Waterbury Democrat, (Waterbury, Ct.), “Mid-Air Photographs”, August 28, 1896 

     The Austin Weekly Statesman, (Austin, TX.), “High Kite Flying In Boston”, October 1, 1896  

     The Chicago Eagle, (No Headline), October 31, 1896


The Boston Aeronautical Manufacturing Co. – 1909

The Boston Aeronautical Manufacturing Company – 1909

     The following newspaper articles relate to the Boston Aeronautical Manufacturing Company, of which little is known.  

     The following article appeared in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, (Bridgeport, CT.), on December 23, 1909.  


     Boston, Dec. 23 – A new airship intended to carry a dozen or more people and expected by the inventor to be capable of going to New York with the greatest ease, and later of making a trip across the Atlantic in two days, is promised by a new Boston flying machine concern, the Boston Aeronautical Manufacturing Company, just incorporated here with a capital of $500,000.

     The president of the new company is Frank S. Corlew of the Corlew-Coughlin Motor Company, and its vice president and engineer, Albert Gouldhart, inventor of the new machine.  Mr. Gouldhart is now completing the machine with which he will make the first flight about May 30.

     The machine will weigh 800 pounds and will have a lifting capacity of 2,500 pounds. 

     Mr. Gouldhart says that the machine will rise in its own space perpendicular from the starting point and without any assistance outside of its own power to about 5,000 feet, although it is said almost any height may be attained.  At this point the airship will keep as nearly as possible on that same level until it has attained a speed of 75 miles an hour.  Then the planes will be set so as to attain a gradual descent, the power shut off and the machine, with its initial velocity will glide rapidly toward the earth and to within a few hundred feet, then will be shot up again.  While gliding or coasting, the inventor expects to keep a speed of about 40 miles an hour.    

     The following article appeared in The Spokane Press, (Spokane, WA.), December 31, 1909.  


     Boston, Dec. 31 – Aeroplanists sailing Bostonward next spring need not suspend their journeys on the outskirts of the city but can fly into the heart of the downtown section, for a flying machine landing is to be established for them.  It will be on the top of the large five-story building on Hawkins Street, known as the Sudbury Garage, and plans are now being made to provide all the necessary facilities for the landing and starting of different types of aeronautical craft on the broad roof of the building.  To conduct this station and also to build a new type of flying machine the Boston Aeronautical Company has been incorporated with $500,000 capital.  


Atlantic Ocean – April 29, 1965

Atlantic Ocean – April 29, 1965

     On April 29, 1965, a U. S. Navy, Grumman C-2A Greyhound prototype aircraft, (Bu. No. 148147), took off from Long Island, New York, for a test flight over the Atlantic Ocean.  (News accounts did not state the airplane’s intended destination.)

     The pilot was Commander Murdoch M. McLeod, (40), of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the co-pilot was Lieutenant Commander Thomas A. Eades, (30), of Dallas, Texas.   

     Both men were assigned to the Patuxent River Naval Station in Maryland.

     At about 5:30 p.m. the pilot radioed that they were having engine trouble and that he was making an emergency landing in the water.  A search and rescue operation was instituted, during which an oil slick was sighted off the coast of Charlestown, Rhode Island, (One report states Block Island Sound.)  The oil was analyzed and found not to be the type used for aviation, and was presumed to have been from a fishing vessel. 

     At one point a navy helicopter from Quonset Point, Rhode Island, that was taking part in the search, was forced to make an emergency water landing in Peconic Bay, Long Island, due to lack of fuel.  There were no injuries, and the helicopter was towed to shore by a Coast Guard boat.  

     The search encompassed a huge area of open water ranging from Long Island, New York, to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, but no wreckage of the aircraft was found.  One Coast guard vessel involved in the search was the 210-foot Vigilant. 

     On May 1st, the bodies of Commander McLeod and Lt. Cmdr. Eades were recovered from Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts, west of Cuttyhunk Island.  According to all newspaper reports, they were the only two crewmen aboard the aircraft.  


     Unknown Newspaper, Associated Press report,  “Test Plane, crew Sought In Sound”, April 30, 1965.

     The Berkshire Eagle, (Pittsfield, Mass.), (UPI report), “Search Goes On For Missing Navy Plane”,  April 30, 1965, page 30.

     Newport Daily News, (R.I.), “Planes Hunt Sound For Lost Fliers”, April 30, 1965, page 2.

     Sag Harbor Express, (N.Y.), “Bodies Were Recovered”, May 6, 1965.

     Biddeford-Saco Journal, (Biddeford, Maine), under “Personals”, May 11, 1965.  The funerals of Fireman Frederick R. Fredette, of Biddeford, and Electrician’s Mate 3/C Arthur J. Brown, of Old Orchard Beach, Me. were listed together.  It was stated that both had been serving aboard the Coast Guard cutter Vigilant during the search for the missing aircraft ten days earlier.  No details were given.       

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