Aerodrome No 1, “Selfridge’s Red Wing,” First Public Flight 12th March 1908: Prof. Alec Bell 1915:—There were two main supporting surfaces, suitably connected together by rigid trussing. The upper surface was concave underneath, and the lower concave above. The upper surface projected beyond the lower at either side, and the rear edge was flexible, and the portions extending beyond the lower were also flexible, as it was believed that this would contribute a certain measure of automatic stability to the machine. The machine was provided with a front control or elevating device at the bow, and a vertical rudder at the rear for steering purposes. The motor was mounted between the supporting surfaces, and the propeller was arranged behind the motor. In view of the fact that this machine was started from the ice on Lake Keuka, it was provided with sledge-runners. The machine was destroyed on March 17, 1908, during a flight on Lake Keuka. It slid off the wind and came down on one wing. The accident which destroyed the machine, leaving the engine and the aviator uninjured, Mr F. W. Baldwin was the aviator upon the occasion. The machine turning over on its side immediately before the catastrophe occurred, and the machine with one 206 wing partially crushed in by the ice. Before the accident occurred it had been supposed that the machine possessed automatic stability to a certain extent on account of the elasticity of the extremities of the main or upper supporting surfaces, and on account of its having a concavity underneath, so that when the machine tipped to one side under the action of a side squall the wind would strike the under portion of the concave surface on the depressed side and not under the other side, so that there would be a greater lifting power on the depressed side than the elevated side, tending to right the machine. The catastrophe of March 17, 1908, showed that we had over-rated the automatic stability of this form of machine and brought home forcibly the advisability of directing attention to some form of control over lateral stability.
Letter from Alexander Graham Bell to J.A.D. McCurdy, March 17, 1908:— 1331 CONNECTICUT AVENUE, WASHINGTON, D.C. March 17, 1908. Mr. J. A. Douglas McCurdy, c/o of G. H. Curtiss Co., Hammondsport, New York. Dear Douglas: I think it very important that you should make every effort to keep a photographic record of what is being done at Hammondsport………….You should be responsible for the negatives, and a book of prints should be in the custody of Lieut. Selfridge as Secretary, and the date of receipt of the prints should be initialled by him. There should be also at least two other copies made to be preserved in different places in case of fire. I think one copy should be sent to me, and you should have a third. My copy I can deposit in the fire-proof building of the Volta Bureau in the custody of Mr. Hitz, not a member of the Association………….When relating referring to any invention or experiment, we must have evidence in black and white that a certain invention or experiment was made at a certain time, and I fear that you cannot produce such evidence of what has been done in the past at Hammondsport………….The Glider and the Aerodrome Red Wing have been changed from time to time. Additions have been made and the apparatus has been modified in various ways. What record have you of these changes, and the date of the modification? The easiest way, I think, and by all means the most satisfactory is to preserve a record consisting of dated photographs. In fact just the plan we had at Beinn Bhreagh. Yours sincerely, Alexander Graham Bell.
Article by Alexander Graham Bell, May 17, 1908: WORK OF THE AERIAL EXPERIMENT ASSOCIATION AS RECORDED IN ASSOCIATED PRESS DISPATCHES WRITTEN BY DR. ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL.
Hammondsport, N. Y., May 17, 1908, 5, p. m.—The Aerial Experiment Association, which has its winter headquarters at Hammondsport, N. Y., is an association of experimenters who are working conjointly to promote the progress of aviation in America. At present there are five members: Alexander Graham Bell, F. W. Baldwin, J. A. D. McCurdy, Glen H. Curtiss and Thomas Selfridge. Their object is the construction of a practical Aerodrome, or flying-machine, driven through the air by its own motive power, and carrying a man. In pursuance of this aim, the association has already built two Aerodromes.
- No. 1. Selfridge’s “Red Wing,” upon plans approved by Lieut. Selfridge, and
- No. 2. Baldwin’s “White Wing,” upon plans approved by Mr. F. W. Baldwin.
The tetrahedral aerodrome of Dr. A. Graham Bell will probably be No. 3, and then will follow Nos. 4 and 5, the aerodromes of Mr. Curtiss and Mr. McCurdy. It is expected that all these aerodromes will be built within the present year. The two aerodromes that have already been completed have been wrongfully ascribed in the public pres to Dr. Bell, the chairman of the association. This His aerodrome has not yet been completed, and work will not be resumed upon it until June, when the 3 Scotia, where Dr. Bell has his summer home……..
In June the Baddeck experiments will be resumed by the association, by the construction of another tetrahedral structure upon the general model of the Cygnet, and the attempt will then be made to convert the kite into an aerodrome, by providing it with motive power. The first aerodrome actually completed by the association was Selfridge’s “Red Wing.” This aerodrome made a successful flight of 319 feet over the ice on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport, N. Y., on March 12th, 1908, in the presence of many witnesses. This experiment was somewhat remarkable, as being the first successful public flight of a flying machine in America, the earlier flights of the Wright Brothers at Dayton, Ohio, having been made in secret. The machine had been provided with sledge-runners, and glided over the ice for about 100 to 150 feet before it rose into the air. It then 4 flew very steadily at a general elevation of from 10 to 20 feet above the surface of the ice, carrying Mr. F. W. Baldwin as aviator. The newspapers very generally reported the aviator as Capt. Baldwin, the balloonist, but this is a different man. Mr. F. W. Baldwin is a young engineer, a graduate of Toronto University, and a grandson of the celebrated Robert Baldwin, one of the founders of the Dominion of Canada, and premier of Upper Canada before the confederation. Mr. F. W. Baldwin is the same engineer who designed and constructed the tetrahedral tower of steel which stands on Dr. Bell’s estate near Baddeck, Novia Scotia; and the new aerodrome now awaiting trial at Hammondsport has been designed by him.
Aerodrome No. 1, Selfridge’s “Red Wing,” came to an untimely end on March 17th, 1908, by an accident which completely demolished the machine, although fortunately the aviator and the engine escaped uninjured. The association then immediately began the construction of Aerodrome No. 2, Baldwin’s “White Wing.” Both aerodromes have been constructed in the aerodrome shed of Mr. Glen H. Curtiss of Hammondsport, who acts as director of experiments for the Aerial Experiment Association. The actual work of construction has been under the charge of Mr. William F. Bedwin, superintendent of Dr. Bell’s Baddeck laboratory. The engine employed was specially designed for the association by Mr. Glen H. Curtiss, and was manufactured by the Curtiss Manufacturing Company of Hammondsport.
On May 13th, 1908, an attempt was made to fly the new aerodrome, No. 2, Baldwin’s “White Wing,” at the race track near Hammondsport. The aerodrome had been provided with light wheels, like bicycle wheels, to enable it to run over the ground until sufficient headway had been gained to enable it to rise into the air. The race track, however, proved to be too narrow to enable it to be used for this purpose, as the ends of the wing-piece were not raised sufficiently from the ground to escape contact with the raised sides of the track. The attempt was therefore made to start the machine from the grass plot contained within the oval race track, but the attachment of the wheels proved to be too weak to stand the strain of running over rough ground, and broke before much headway had been gained. The damage was repaired next day. The machine has been placed at a higher elevation above the wheels, so that it is hoped that the next experiment may start from the race track itself, instead of from the grass lawn, as the smoother surface of the track will give a better chance for getting up the necessary initial speed. (Signed) Graham Bell.
To Charles F. Thompson, Supt. Associated Press, N.Y., Hammondsport, N.Y., May 17th, 1908, 8 p.m. —A preliminary trial was made this evening of the aerodrome “White Wing,” designed by F. W. Baldwin, and constructed by the Aerial Experiment Association of which Dr. A. Graham Bell is chairman. The aviator’s seat was occupied by Lieut. Thomas Selfridge, U.S.A. The people of Hammondsport turned out in large numbers to witness the experiment. No attempt was made to rise into the air. The machine had been provided with wheels, but steering gear was not attached to them, as it was thought that the aerial rudder would control the motion of the machine while on the ground. This proved insufficient for the purpose, however, for the machine could not be kept from running off the track to one side or the other. It was therefore decided to make a slight change in the attachment of the front wheel, and provide it with steering gear, so as to enable the operator to steer the machine on the race track for a distance long enough to gain sufficient speed to get into the air. No attempt will be made to fly until the operators are satisfied that they have the machine under full control on the ground.
AERODROME NO. 1, SELFRIDGE’S RED WING:— by F. W. Baldwin. (A paper presented to the Aerial Experiment Association May 17, 1908, revised for this bulletin). The first motor driven aeroplane built by the A.E.A., which was known as the Red Wing had double superposed surfaces and would come under the class generally known as the Chanute type. There were two distinctive features in this design. The first was in the general principle and arrangement of the truss which supported the two surfaces and the second in the shape of the surfaces themselves. The frame of the usual double decker, is the simple Pratt Truss, with parallel upper and lower chords and panels of consequently constant depth. The vertical posts in this form of truss are held at two points only (at the top and bottom). (See page 2). In the Red Wing Truss (page 2) the upper and lower chords were made converging toward their extremities, giving the panels greater height in the center where the bending moments are at a maximum, and gradually decreasing in height towards the outside panels where the bending moments approach zero. In this way the height of the truss was proportional to the bending moments; and, as the stresses due to bending are by far the greatest ones to be considered, the structural advantage in having the chords bowed is obvious at a glance. Another equally, if not more important advantage, is in the lateral support afforded to the vertical posts of the;
- Simple Pratt Truss
- Red Wing Truss
Truss by attaching them to a bow-string wire extending from tip to tip of the upper and lower chords. This fixes the uprights against lateral deflection at four points instead of two and theoretically increases their efficiency about fourfold. The great advantage in this is that besides lending itself naturally to lighter construction, it permits the use of struts very narrow in cross-section, materially reducing the head resistance offered by the framework. All the exposed members of the main planes, tail, and bow-control, which were substantially at right angles to the line of flight were made of fish-shaped cross-section giving a form of least resistance according to experiments made by Prof. Zahm and conforming fairly well to stream-line theory. A number of different sizes of spruce sticks were made for this purpose. They were of four to one, and three to one dimensions, the largest size being 4“ × 1“ and the smallest 1 ½“ × ½“ (see page 4). The other feature of the Red Wing which distinguishes it from the usual type of doubledeck machine lies in the shape of the supporting surfaces. These are very much like a birds wing in plan, (see page 5), tapering towards the tips and at the same time decreasing in curvature. Experiments published by W. R. Turnbull suggested the advisability of using aero-surfaces concave below in the forward position and convex in the after position. The double curvature of the surfaces was obtained by the use of curved ribs made up of four laminations of wood Cross-Sections of Struts Scale – Full Size.
- Rib at central Panel
- Rib at 2nd Panel
- Rib at outside Panel
Each #“ thick. The two outside strips were of ash to give them the required stiffness and the inner ones of spruce. These strips were laid up on a form and after being carefully glued together, retained their shape admirably without any apparent warping. The spread of the wings from tip to tip was 43 ft. 4 inches. The depth of the surfaces at the center was 6 feet 3 inches, and the distance apart 6 feet, 6 inches at the center, and 4 feet at the outside panel. This gave a surface of 385.5 sq. ft. of silk. The seat for the operator was arranged just above the lower surface in the control panel. His body was shielded by a rectangular spindle-shaped nose which was covered with silk and came to a point seven feet in front of the main planes. This nose was made of four bamboo poles with internal bracing and supported the bow-control which was a flat surface 8 feet across and 2 feet deep. It was balanced about a point one third back from its front edge and pivoted at the point of the nose (7 feet in front of the main planes). Yoke-ropes connected the bow-control to a steering drum just in front of the operator on his left hand side, and was manipulated either by turning the drum itself or a small spoke attached to it. Fore and aft stability was also sought by the use of a fixed small surface tail. It was 14 feet 10 inches across, and 3 feet deep giving a surface of 44.5 sq. ft. This surface was placed horizontally 10 feet back of the rear edge of the main planes and was attached by bamboo poles guyed with piano wire.
Right and left steering was effected by a square rudder 4 feet × 4 feet which pivoted about a vertical axis above the tail and was controlled by steering ropes which led to a lever just in front of the operator on his right hand side. While there were no fixed vertical planes in the Red Wing, the fish-shaped uprights of the main truss offered a vertical surface calculated as 19 sq. ft., and undoubtedly contributed to the stability of the machine. As the experiments with this machine were to be conducted over the ice it was mounted on runners. Two main runners with a tread of 2 feet 6 inches were placed below the center panel and supported nearly the entire load of the machine. A light runner was fixed under the tail and subsequently taken off as the machine retained its balance on the front runner alone. Two light runners were also placed under the second panels from the center in case the machine should come down sidewise in landing. The main planes were given an angle of incidence of 7 ½ degrees. The engine used was a 40 horse-power, eight cylinder Curtiss, air-cooled motor. The bare engine weighed 148 pounds, but with the oil-tank, batteries, shafting, coil, etc., it weighed about 185 pounds. The propeller was made of steel, had two blades, a diameter of 6 feet 2 inches, and a pitch of about 4 feet. It weighed 15 pounds and was driven direct, the engine and shafting being mounted horizontally. The fundamental idea in the design of the Red Wing was to produce an aeroplane with head resistance reduced to a minimum and power enough to ensure its getting into the air.
Prof. A.G. Bell 1915: — “After the destruction of the “Red Wing” a few days elapsed before work was begun on what was known officially as “Drome No. 2, Baldwin’s White Wing”. This machine was completed by May 14, 1908, and was successfully flown about that time. On May 18, 1908, Mr Baldwin got into the air on this machine, and flew a distance of 279 feet at a height of about ten feet, and on May 19, 1908, Lieut. Selfridge made two flights in the “White Wing”, the second of 240 feet, twenty feet in the air. I witnessed these flights and they were very inspiring. The machine was completed about the middle of May, 1908, and successfully flown on May 18 and 19, 1908. There were two supporting surfaces, the upper one concave below and the lower one concave above, connected together by rigid trussing. Two Ailerons were provided on each side of the machine beyond the extremities of the supporting surfaces, and the ailerons were pivoted on prolongations of the front member of the frame of each supporting surface. A pivoted lever had a part embracing the body of the aviator connected to the ailerons by wires, so that when the aviator leaned to one side when the machine tipped in the air (he would lean naturally to the high side) the ailerons on the depressed side would be turned to a positive angle of incidence, and the ailerons on the elevated side would be depressed. A. It was destroyed in the latter part of May 1908, in an accident during a flight by Mr. McCurdy.”
Appearing in North American Press, Despatch Hammondsport, H.Q. N.Y., 17th May 1908:—A preliminary trail was made today of the aerodrome “White Wing,” designed by F.W. Baldwin and constructed by the Aerial Experimental Association, of which Dr. Alexander Graham Bell is chairman. The navigator’s seat was occupied by Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, U.S.A. Large crowds witnessed the experiment. No attempt was made to rise into the air. The machine had been provided with wheels, but no steering gear was attached to them, as it was thought that the aerial rudder would control the motion of the machine while on the ground. This proved insufficient for the purpose, however, for the machine could not he kept from running off the track to one side or the other. It was decided to make a slight change in the attachment of the font wheels and provide it with steering gear, so as to enable the operator to steer the machine on the track for a destine long enough to gain sufficient speed to get into the air. No attempt will be made to fly until the operators are satisfied that they have the machine under full control on the ground. The Aerial Experiment Association, which has its winter headquarters’ at Hammondsport, is an association of experimenters who are working conjointly to promote the progress of aviation in America. The objective of its five members, Alexander Graham Bell, F.W. Baldwin, J.A. McCurdy, Glen H. Curtiss and Thomas Selfridge, is construction of a practical aerodrome or flying machine driven through the air by its own motive power, and carrying a man. The association has already built two aerodromes. Number one, Selfridge’s “Red Wing,” upon plans approved by Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, and upon plans approved by F.W. Baldwin.
The tetrahedral aerodrome of Dr. Bell probably will be number three, and then will fallow number four and number five, the aerodromes of Mr. Curtiss and Mr. McCurdy. It is expected that all these aerodromes will be built in the present year. Those which have been completed have been wrongfully ascribed in the press at times to Dr. Bell, the chairman of the association. His aerodrome has not yet been completed, and work will not be resumed on it until June. The headquarters of the association will be moved to Baddeck, Nova Scotia, where Dr. Bell has his summer home. The work by Dr. Bell’s machine progressed last year at Baddeck to the point of construction a large tetrahedral kite, known as the “Cygnet,” which, on December 6, 1907, successfully carried Lieutenant Selfridge up into the air to a height of 168 feet above the waters of the Bras d’Or Lake. At the conclusion of this experiment the “Cygnet” landed on the surface of the water and floated there quite uninjured, but subsequently was wrecked by being towed at full speed through rough water by a powerful steamboat. Selfridge’s “Red Wing” made a successful flight of 319 feet over the ice on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport, March 12th 1908, in the presence of many witnesses. This experiment was remarkable as being declared the first successful public flight of a flying machine in America, the earlier flights of the Wright brothers at Baylin, Ohio, having been conducted in secret. The Machine, when it rose in the air, flew very steadily at an elevation of 10 to 20 feet above the ice, caring F.W. Baldwin, an aviator. Some newspapers gave the aviator as Captain Baldwin, the balloonist, but F.W. Baldwin is a young engineer, a graduate of Toronto University, and a grandson of the celebrated Thos. Baldwin, one of the founders of the Dominion of Canada, and the premier of Upper Canada before Confederation.
The “Red Wing” came to an untimely end on the 17th of March, though an accident, which completely demolished the machine, although fortunately the aviator and engineer escaped injury. The actual work of construction of the “White Wing” has been under the charge of F.W. Baldwin, superintendent of Dr. Bell’s Nova Scotia laboratory. The engine employed was designed by Mr. Curtiss. On May 13 an attempt was made to fly the new aerodrome at the race track near Hammondsport. The race track, however, proved too narrow, as the ends of the Wing pieces did not clear the raised sides of the track. The attempt, therefore, made to start the machine from grass plot within the oval of the track, but the attachment of the wheels proved to be too weak to stand the strain of running over rough ground; and broke down before headway had been gained. The machine as now been placed at a higher elevation above the wheels, so that it is hoped that the new experiment may start from the race track itself, instead of the grass lawn, and smoother surface of the track will give a better chance for getting up the necessary speed.
Hammondsport, N.Y., May 18th, 1908. 5 P.M.:—The aerodrome “White Wing” made a short flight here to-day, carrying its 8 designer, F. W. Baldwin, to a height of about 10 feet. The pressure of the air on the elastic rear edge of the lower aeroplane caused it to foul the propeller, and the aerodrome was therefore brought down to the ground, after having traversed a distance of 93 yards. The damage will be easily repaired. The new steering gear, attached to the front wheel, worked satisfactorily, so that there is now no difficulty in keeping the machine on the race track while running on the ground. The race track has been widened by ploughing up a portion of the adjoining field and smoothing it with a roller. (Signed) Graham Bell.
To Charles F. Thompson, Supt. Associated Press, N.Y. Hammondsport, N.Y., May 19th, 1908, 6 P.M.:—Lieut. Selfridge made two flights this afternoon in Baldwin’s aerodrome, “White Wing”. In first experiment machine ran 210 feet in six and a half seconds, on race track, before leaving the ground, and made a flight of 100 feet in two seconds, at elevation of three feet, and ran 201 feet on rough ground after landing, without injury to running gear. The flight was impeded by loose guy wires catching in propeller, but no damage resulted. In second experiment the machine made a beautiful and steady flight of 240 feet, at an elevation of at least 20 feet in the air, but landed badly in a newly ploughed field. The aerodrome is uninjured, but the truck carrying the front wheel ploughed into the ground, and injured front wheel. The damage can be easily repaired. The members of the Aerial Experiment 9 Association are encouraged to believe that the engine has abundant power, and that the machine is under good control in the air, so that skill alone on the part of the aviator is all that is needed to accomplish much longer flights. (Signed) Graham Bell. To Charles T. Thompson, Supt. Associated Press, N. Y.
Hammondsport, N.Y., May 21, 1908:— G. H. Curtiss of the Curtiss Manufacturing Company made a flight of 339 yards (1017 feet) in two jumps in Baldwin’s “White Wing” this afternoon at 6.47 P. M. In the first jump he covered 205 yards then touched, rose immediately and flew 134 yards further when the flight ended on the edge of a ploughed field. The machine was in perfect control at all times, and was steered first to the right, and then to the left before landing. The 339 yards was covered in 19 seconds, or 37 miles per hour. A previous trial was made earlier in the day but resulted in no flight. The motor is a duplicate of the one used by Curtiss when he made his record of a mile in 26 # seconds, 136.4 miles per hour. This is the world’s record for a first attempt. (Signed) Selfridge.
To Charles T. Thompson, Supt. Associated Press, N.Y. Hammondsport, N.Y., May 23, 1908:— J. A. D. McCurdy handled Baldwin’s “White Wing” in her fifth flight to-day. 183 yards was covered in 10 # seconds at 35 miles an hour. The 10 maximum height was about 20 feet. Quite a strong quartering wind was blowing which McCurdy did not correct for by his lateral controls, this being his first trial, which caused the machine to careen and strike her right wing first. She then turned turtle pivoting on the nose and finally rested on her top plane with engine and wheels in air. The center panel was so strongly built, however, that it remained intact, the engine staying fast in its bed. Neither operator nor engine were in the least injured. The machine itself was, however, quite badly damaged, and it will take a couple of weeks to complete repairs. This flight was the fifth made by the “White Wing” which has now traveled a total of 674 yards in the air.
- Baldwin 40 yards
- Selfridge 112 “
- Curtiss 339 “
- McCurdy 183 “
Selfridge’s “Red Wing” traveled with Baldwin a total of 147 yards which makes a grand total of 821 yards covered by the Aerial Experiment Association in seven flights since March 11, 1908, with absolutely no damage resulting to either operator, or the engine which was the same in both machines. (Signed) Selfridge. To Charles T. Thompson, Supt. Associated Press, N. Y.
EXPERIENCES IN THE AIR: by J.A.D. McCurdy. (An account of Mr. McCurdy’s flight in the White Wing, May 23, 1908). On Saturday, May 23rd, 1908, experiments were continued with the aerodrome White Wing at Hammondsport, New York. It was decided by the members of the A.E.A. present on the field that I should operate the machine. A few changes were made from the previous flight. The connecting rod running from the steering wheel to the control was placed higher upon the strut which is perpendicular to the surface of the control, thus giving the operator greater leverage, and hence a more steady motion in changing the angle of incidence of the control. It was found from previous trials that the pressure of the air on the control was apt to cause a greater change of angle of incidence than the operator wished and consequently the flight of the machine was not as steady as it might otherwise have been. In the flights made by Mr. Curtiss and myself the batteries and spark-coil were placed well forward in the nose in front of our feet, instead of being just behind the seat as in the case of Baldwin and Selfridge.
This change was made on account of the difference in weight, Curtiss and I being about 20 lbs. lighter. This change brought the balance of the machine about right. It was a comparatively calm day, the wind only coming in puffs, but it was through one of these puffs that the machine met its Waterloo. Curtiss started the engine and as in previous trials, the aerodrome was held by half a dozen men till the engine was turning over properly and developing its full power. Curtiss gave the signal to let go, and in an absolute calm the machine started. She left the ground after running about 100 to 150 feet, and so gently did she rise that I was unconscious of any lift. The control was slightly depressed so the machine didn’t rise till it j h ad full supporting power from its own velocity. The machine took a slight turn to the left and then curved round to the right. The wind blew about on her port quarter, and as she turned to the right a puff elevated the port wing, and depressed the starboard wing so that it caught in the grass. I leaned to the high side (port) with the idea of adjusting the tips so that a righting couple would be produced. As I was sitting too far forward my back failed to engage the lever which operates the tips, and so no righting result was produced. I would like to say that my leaning to the high side of the machine was the result of thought, and not done intuitively. All the other motions for control, and steering to right or left, or changing your elevation are done instinctively. I think that, as has already been suggested, if the wires which operate the tips were controlled from the steering wheel instead of by the body we would have a more natural movement. Such a method of control would undoubtedly change the course of the machine, b y u t this is what happens in the case of a bicycle or motor-cycle to preserve its equilibrium, and would come as a natural movement to us all.
As the starboard wing struck the ground the machine pivoted about that tip, and the nose swung round and dug into the ground. The front wheel might have saved the resulting shock had the machine been on an even keel, but the wheel striking sideways was instantly disabled. I was deposited gently and without any jar whatever on the ground, and the machine turned a complete somersault leaving me free from the debris. The engine stayed securely in its bed, and was therefore uninjured. The distance covered was about 600 feet at an elevation of about ten to twenty feet, and lasted for eleven seconds. Before the machine started Lieut. Selfridge and his dog were standing directly in the path the machine would take in its run along the race track, so that Selfridge could note the exact time the machine left the ground and also mark the sport for future reference. So swiftly did the machine gather speed in coming down the track that Selfridge had not time to get out of the way, and his presence of mind warned him to lie flat on the ground. I from my seat in the machine saw the dog scurry off through the grass, but did not realize that I had flown directly over Selfridge. In fact none of the A.E.A. were aware of the fact till Selfridge communicated it to us later.
A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE PROGRESS OF THE ART OF AVIATION:— by Thomas Selfridge. (A paper submitted by T. Selfridge, 1st. Lieutenant, 1st. U.S. Field Artillery, to the Aerial Experiment Association, May 17, 1908, with an account of the Association’s experiments with their own machine, Aerodrome No. 2, subsequent to that date, revised for this Bulletin). In this country the only public flights so far made have been those accomplished by the Aerial Experiment Association with its two machines, “The Red Wing”, and “The White Wing”. The former consisted of two superposed tapering aeroplanes arranged in the form of a spar shaped truss. It was driven by a 40 horse-power motor which, however, did not turn its propellers whose diameter was 6 feet, 2 inches with a 38 pitch of four feet, more than 1000 revolutions per minute, thus delivering at the time not more than 20 horsepower. The apparatus was provided with a front control and a tail, and had 385 square feet of supporting surface. Its total weight with operator was 570 pounds. This apparatus was constructed and ready for trial in just seven weeks. On March 11, 1908 it was run over the ice, and its steering gear thoroughly tested, but no t attempt made to fly. On March 12th, it made a flight of 318 feet, 11 inches, carrying F. W. Baldwin of Toronto, Canada in the aviator’s seat. On March 17th Mr. Baldwin again made a flight in the machine, covering a distance of 120 feet. In the first flight, the aeroplane traveled about 200 feet from the start before rising, and only 50 feet in the second attempt.
The machine was badly damaged when landing after this second flight, and it was decided to build another structure rather than repair the old one, as it was intended to make numerous changes. The new machine was commenced March 23rd, and was ready for trial on May 9th. The form of the machine which was known as aerodrome No. 2, or “The White Wing”, was much the same as “The Red Wing”, the only radical change being the addition of moveable wing tips which were expected to aid in the control of the lateral equilibrium. There were numerous improvements made in the details of construction. This second machine made its first flight on May 18th, guided by Mr. Baldwin. It covered about 40 yards. The running gear proved defective, and no further flights were attempted that day. On May 19th Lieut. Selfridge make two flights, one of 35 yards, and the 39 other of 79 yards. The greatest height was attained in this last flight, being between 30 and 40 feet. On coming down, the front plane was damaged, and the running gear broken. The machine was again ready for flight on May 22nd, when, under the guidance of G. H. Curtiss, it covered a distance of 339 yards lightly touching the ground however, after it had traveled a distance of 205 yards. This occurred late in the evening, so that experiments were given up for the rest of the day. On the 23rd, the machine, carrying Mr. McCurdy, made a flight of 183 yards, at the end of which one wing touched the ground, causing the machine to strike its nose and turn turtle. This accident badly damaged the apparatus which however, is now being re-built and should be ready for trial in about two weeks. Aerodrome No. 2 proved to be most satisfactory, considering that it was never using more than 23 horse-power. Its average speed was about 38 miles pre hour, at which it fully demonstrated the practicability of its controlling gear, the accidents all being due to the inexperience of the operators, and not to any defect developed in the aerodrome. Its area was 408 square feet, and its greatest weight 650 pounds with the operator.