Thursday, May 6, 2021

Langley Aerodrome No. 5, 125 Years -- May 6, 2021


Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution
By Smithsonian Institution. Board of Regents · 1898

125 years ago today, on 06-May-1896, Professor Samuel P Langley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, made two successful flights with his unmanned, steam-powered Aerodrome No. 5. This article from the 12-May-1896 Washington Evening Times, describes the successful tests. 

Professor Langley Succeeded in
Making a Long Flight.
He Will Next Send Up a Crew of
Three -- The Invention Given
Two Trials.

The big flying machine constructed by Prof. Langley of the Smithsonian Institution has made a successful half-mile flight.

He has been quietly conducting his momentous experiment, but bits of his secret are already cropping out.

Last Wednesday he and his assistants took their model down the Potomac to the quiet bay where they have hitherto conducted their experiments.

The machine was given two trials. At the first it flew 1,000 feet and was in the air one and one-half minutes. At the second it flew over half a mile.

The model is about four feet long, with a six-foot wing expansion. Prof. Langley believes he is now nearly ready to build a practical flying machine large enough to carry a crew of three and to make an extended flight.

It is estimated that the construction should not be undertaken with less than a fund of $100,000.

Prof. Alexander Graham Bell, it is understood, has been supplying a large share of the money for the experimental work, in which not less than $50,000 has already been expended.

At the close of open-air work last year Prof. Langley's machine had made a flight of about 300 feet, but it was easily overturned by cross air currents.

This difficulty has been so nearly overcome by automatic appliances that it is reported the machine is practically perfected. If Prof. Langley should inform Congress that he had solved the problem and wanted money to build a machine he might get it.

By James R Hansen · 1898

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