Friday, October 1, 2010

Gustave Whitehead and his Flying Machine -- October 1, 2010

Gustave Whitehead was a Bavarian immigrant who settled in Connecticut. He claimed that he made several powered flights in 1901 and 1902, but there is little documentation. After that, he had money problems, but did make engines for several early airplanes. This story is from the 19-November-1901 New York Evening World. Many people have championed his cause. I think the ship's wings don't look strong enough, but I have an open mind.


    Gustave Whitehead's Machine Weighs but 25 Pounds and Has 30-Horse Power Through Calcium Carbide, He Says.

BRIDGEPORT Conn Nov. 19 -- There is building in a little shop in this city an airship that the inventor says will certainly fly. His name is Gustav Whitehead and he has already travelled more than a mile through the air in a ship of his own invention. This ship has been improved upon and the new machine is said by the inventor to be as near perfect as it can be with the facilities at hand.

Whitehead predicts that within a year people will be buying airships as freely as they are buying automobiles today and that the sky will be dotted with figures skimming the air. His machine will also run on land and through the water if his prophesies turn out.

The new machine is built like a boat. Projecting from the side are gigantic wings and in the rear is a fan-shaped arrangement like the tail of a bird. There is an engine in the boat that operates the wings and rudder. The power will be generated by calcium carbide which is fourteen times stronger than gasoline. Whitehead says that his engine which weighs only twenty-five pounds will generate thirty horse power. Rubber tired wheels for use on land will be attached to the bottom of the body of the machine and a propeller for use in the water will be added.

The section in which the machinery is placed weighs 150 pounds. Instead of canvas, sheet steel so thin it weighs less than eight ounces to the square foot will be used for the wings and fan-shaped tail.

Whitehead asserts that he has solved the mystery of flying in the air with the wind or against it. He will soar like a bird he says and teach others to soar. He has capital back of him and expects to be ready to experiment with his new machine in a short time. Seventeen men are engaged in building it.

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