Wilbur & Orville Wright Vs Glenn H. Curtiss’ Epic Aviation Patent Wars, 1908—1917.

The Wright’s felt a sense of entitlement, by January 1904 the brother’s press despatch, championed narrative reached the Aero Club of Paris, France. They wrote their own patent in 1903, as being the first inventors of the flying machine with all components, controls, etc., the application was rejected. In January 1904 retained the services of Henry Toulmin an Ohio patent attorney and granted their first U.S. Patent 821,393, on 22 May, 1906, only covering; “new and useful Improvements in Flying Machines.” During 1906-07 the brothers never took-off the ground and were more interested in filling their pockets, lobbing US and European governments negotiating contracts for their Flyer. The above mentioned countries manufactures, aviators evading the Wright’s patent, engineered, constructed mirrored ailerons for lateral control. This action prompted the brothers too release the hounds, launching lawsuits on whoever infringed on their US patent. They sued European manufacturing companies who purchased foreign patents, in their own country, seeking a worldwide monopoly and control. Met with little success, although the pro-Wright ruling in France, a German court ruled the US patent was not valid, owing too prior disclosures during speeches by Wilbur Wright in 1901 and Octave Chanute 1903. The Aero Club of America brokered a deal, compensated the Wright’s who issued a license allowing aviators participating in Club events, free of legal prosecution.

In mid 1908 Glenn H. Curtiss chief engineer and members of AEA, reengineered controls and wingtip ailerons for Baldwin’s Aerodrome No. 2 “White Wing.” Glenn Curtiss’ Aerodrome No. 3 “June Bug,” named by A.G. Bell, successfully raised and land ca 4 times on 21st June, and by the 25th flew twice, on the latter take-off sustained flight for 1,040 m (3,420 ft). The Aero Club of America received a request from AEA, mostly Curtiss, for the Scientific American Cup, awarded too any aviator attempting a public flight at a distance of over 1 kilometre (3,280 ft): wining a solid silver trophy and cash prize of $2,500. The Club avoiding grief from the Wright’s, cabled, advising on the situation in hand, and requested if they would be interested in the first attempt, Orville declined on 30th June, received 1st July. Curtiss was issued a licence by the Aero Club and authorized on America’s Independence Day 4th July. After a false start, on the June Bug’s second attempt, raised off the ground and sustained a control flight for 1.6 km (5,360 ft), in 1 minute 40 seconds. Accounts claim the Wright’s declined owing they were immersed, tying loose ends, acquiring a contract with the US government for their flying machine. According too the new rules would required installing wheels for take-off, eliminating a race track catapult launch from the ground, for the all knowing Wright’s this should’ve been trivial. Most highly, considering issues with their Flyer, feared an unsuccessful attempt would promote public humiliation, governments loosing interest, putting into question the US patent and claims. Supposedly the brother’s stated during 1905, they attempted countless of successful flights reaching distances of 38 km (24 ml), conveniently without official and questionable witnesses. The Wright’s were hastily informed on Curtiss winning the cup and $2,500 cash prize, congratulated him by sending a lawyers letter warning on patent infringement: “Their control system used for exhibitions or in a commercial way without authority.”

 LETTER FROM ORVILLE WRIGHT:— Dayton, Ohio, July 20th 1908. To Mr. G. H. Curtiss, Hammondsport, New York. Dear Mr. Curtiss:— I learn from the Scientific American that your “June Bug” has moveable surfaces at the tips of the wings, adjustable to different angles on the right and left sides for maintaining the lateral balance. In our letter to Lieut. Selfridge of January 18th, replying to his of the 15th, in which he asked for information on the construction of flyers, we referred him to several publications containing descriptions of the structural features of our machines, and to our U.S. Patent #821,393. We did not intend of course, to give permission to use the patented features of our machine for exhibitions, or in a commercial way. This patent broadly covers the combination of sustaining surfaces to the right and left of the center of a flying machine adjustable to different angles, with vertical surfaces adjustable to correct inequalities in the horizontal resistances of the differently adjusted wings. Claim 14 of our patent #821,393, specifically covers the combination which we are informed you are using. We believe it will be very difficult to develop a successful machine without the use of some of the features covered in this patent. The commercial part of our business is taking so much of our time that we have not been able to undertake public 40 exhibitions. If it is your desire to enter the exhibition business we would be glad to take up the matter of a licence to offer it under our patents for that purpose. Please give to Capt. Baldwin my best wishes for his success in the coming Government tests. Sincerely yours, (Signed) Orville Wright.

(Note:— The full correspondence with Mr. Orville Wright upon the above subject should, I think, be made known to all the members of the A.E.A. for it is obvious that we may expect to be brought into a law-suit with the Wright Bros., if we make any public exhibitions of our apparatus for gain without an arrangement with them. I do not know exactly the circumstances that led to the adoption of the moveable wing tips as I was in Washington at the time; but if, as I have reason to believe, their adoption was due to a suggestion of mine that moveable wing tips should be used, contained in a letter to Mr. Baldwin, I may say, that this suggestion was made without any knowledge upon my part of anything the Wright Brothers may have done. They had kept the details of construction of their machine secret; and I was ignorant of anything contained in their patent. I have no copy of their patent here, and do not therefore know whether their claim covers our wing tips or not. The matter should be enquired into by Messrs. Mauro, Cameron, Lewis & Massie and reported upon by them. They are more competent than we are to determine this point. A.G.B.).

Wilbur and Orville Wright with their second powered machine Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio May 1904.

Wilbur and Orville Wright with their second powered machine Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio May 1904.

CURTISS TO BELL. (About Orville Wright’s Machine). Hammondsport, N.Y., Sept. 7, 1908:— I have been down to Washington for two days, called there by a message from Gen. Allen. I was lucky enough to arrive just in time to see the Wrights’ flights, Thursday and Friday. The first flight was rather short as Mr. Wright said he was unaccustomed to the machine, and the levers seemed awkward for him. He made a wrong move and headed for the tent, which necessitated immediate landing; in this landing, with the machine tilted somewhat, one rudder struck first causing the machine to swing around sideways and broke the rudder off. The next day he did better, however, and made as fine a landing as you would make on wheels. The launching device, which includes a derrick, and a big weight which drops the pulleys and rope to give the initial velocity, does not seem to be very well liked, and I believe that all who have seen our machine and the Wrights’ prefer our method of starting on wheels to skids. I had some talk with Mr. Wright and nothing was said about his patents on adjustable surfaces. He has nothing startling about his machine and no secrets………..The engine is the same they had four years ago, being rather crude and not exceptionally light. Mr. Wright sits to the left of the engine just inside of the front surface on a little cushioned seat, which is large enough for two. Mr. Wright told me they intended to use but one propeller hereafter, presumably to simplify. This double-chain transmission they have weighs 100 lbs. more than the single propeller would. Selfridge has been ordered to St. Joseph, Mo. to fly the Government airship at the coming manoeuvres. After that he will probably fly the Wrights’ machine. Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild were out to the flight, and I had a nice visit with them. I enclose a brief description of what we have been doing here since the last report. G. H. Curtiss.

 Letter: Curtiss to Mrs. Bell. Hammondsport, N.Y., Sept. 9, 1908:— I had a short, but pleasant, visit with Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild in Washington the other day. I was there for two days in response to a message from Gen. Allen to get the Government’s motor ready for the St. Joseph tournament. One of the Wrights made a flight each day, the first and only two they have made so far. The first day’s flight was marred by a bad landing which broke one of the skids. The second was better lasting for over four minutes. It is plain to see that they have nothing new, or better than we. I wrote Mr. Bell describing the machine. Our number four will be, I believe, both better in appearance and in results than any yet produced. The new engine will have power and endurance for long continued flights, and we hope to make new records as soon as it is ready. We have been experimenting with the June Bug and have gotten good results without the tail and with a new front control. Under separate cover I am mailing a print showing this new control. G.H Curtiss.

Telegram: Bell to Orville Wright, Fort Myer, Washington, D.C. Baddeck, Sept. 11, 1908:— On behalf of the Aerial Experiment Association allow me to congratulate you upon your magnificent success. An hour in the air marks a historical occasion. Graham Bell.

EDITORIAL NOTES AND COMMENTS. The Plans of the A.E.A., Feb. 19, 1909:— The original object of the Association was simply “To get into the air”. This object has been fully accomplished even though we should meet with no further success with Nos .5 and 6. We have made four aerodromes, each of which has successfully flown, propelled by its own motive power and carrying a man. Without any further experiments therefore we are prepared to construct flying-machines that we know will fly. We have applied for patents upon these machines and upon our success in obtaining patents will depend the possibility of our getting outside capital to put our machines into commercial use………… It is obvious, however, that we could at once begin to obtain pecuniary returns by exhibitions of the two successful machines we possess, Curtiss’ “June Bug” and McCurdy’s “Silver-Dart”. The only difficulty in doing so is the fact that is very obvious to my mind that the moment we begin to make money by the construction or exhibition of aerodromes we will find ourselves involved in litigation with the Wright Brothers and others, and it would not be wise upon our part to attempt anything of the kind without having sufficient capital at command to protect us should litigation arise. I am very much averse to attempting to make money under our present organization, or under any organization that would throw the financial responsibility upon me alone, for I am the only member of the Association that could be touched in the matter. If we are to do anything immediately in a commercial way we shall have to begin without the protection of patents for it will take a long time for the Patent Office to pass finally upon our pending applications. We have no funds, as an Association, even to pay the cost of applying for patents, and without a patent, or the assured prospect of obtaining one, it is extremely unlikely that we can get outside capital into the enterprise…….I think that we better consider some proposition to submit to Mr. Charles J. Bell, our Trustee, upon this matter. It would not take any large amount of money to start exhibitions of the “June Bug” and “Silver-Dart”, and to begin the building of another aerodrome, but such work must necessarily be done under the auspices of an organized Company…….

By 31st March 1909 A.E.A., dissolved, Curtiss employed aviators for exhibition, and competition meets across North America, publicly introducing aviation; mostly for the purpose of selling biplanes. With the results from 30th July the US Army purchased the “Wright’s Military Flyer,” for $25,000 plus $5,000, owing achieved 42.58 mph, in agreement for each mph over 40, $2,500. During August Curtiss participated in La Grande Semaine d’Aviation meet sponsored by Le Aéro-Club de France at Reims, France, with Curtiss’ Baddeck No. 2 biplane. He acquired the rights from Aerial Experimental Association for Aerodrome No. 3, developing “Curtiss No. 1” and producing a series of “pusher biplanes.” Won the speed event, at a distance of 20 km (12.5 ml), slightly under 16 minutes, reaching speeds of 74.8 km/h (46.5 mph), while Louis Blériot taking second place, was only 6 seconds slower. There were two Flyers reengineered with landing gear controlled by other aviators, the Wright’s were in Germany selling their outdated flying machine for $35,000, too interested parties and didn’t compete, both flyers were unsuccessful in placing or winning any events entered. The reality of this matter was evident, with twenty-three aircrafts blanketing the skies above Rheims, publicly witnessed and officially recorded, “all,” shattered the Wright’s questionable altitude and speed records. A portion of historian accounts conclude, the brothers rejected, avoiding public events and meets, owing they were above competing with “mere imitators.” The arrogant Wright’s feared their Flyer would no longer be the standard, as aviation drastically expanded with innovative aviators during those years, selling biplanes for $5,000.

In August 1909 the Wright’s frustrated with Curtiss lacking cooperation, compensation for the use and profiting from their invention for years, launched a patent infringement lawsuit. This cascaded other lawsuits being launched by the Wright’s, and as the years dragged on, many stating: “If someone jumped in the air waving their arms, the Wrights would sue.” Not phased by the lawsuit, Curtiss supporting the Wright’s were only flying with hot air, competed on 29th May 1910, soared from Albany to New York City covering a distance of 220 km (137 ml) in 4 hours, awarded a $10,000 cash prize and permanent possession of the Scientific American trophy.

The remodeled 1905 Wright machine, altered to allow the operator to assume a sitting position and to provide a seat for a passenger, on the launching track at Kill Devil Hills. This is apparently the only photograph of this machine taken by the Wright brothers in 1908.

The remodeled 1905 Wright machine, altered to allow the operator to assume a sitting position and to provide a seat for a passenger, on the launching track at Kill Devil Hills. This is apparently the only photograph of this machine taken by the Wright brothers in 1908.

Aeronautics:— The American Magazine of Aerial Locomotion, Vol.6, No. 2, February, 1910.— PAULHAN SERVED IN WRIGHT SUIT:— Louis Paulhan, his wife, his wife’s dog and mechanics arrived in New York on their way to Los Angeles on Jan. 3. Paulhan was immediately served with papers in an action brought by the Wright company alleging infringement. This does not prevent him from flying, but may deprive him of a more or less large portion of his earnings. In the next issue we will have a very complete record of the meet through our delegate to the meet, Cleve T. Shaffer.

  • Says He Warped Wings in 1897:— D. D. Wells has completed a monoplane at his home in Jacksonville, Fla., and is now waiting for the engine and propeller. Mr. Wells states that he made models incorporating the warping of the main plane in 1897, six years before the Wright patent. He says: “I considered it of not much value to patent it as it was. I also had in that model at that time rear pivoted horizontal and vertical controls.” The details of his present machine are as follows: —
  • Supporting Surface.—The spread measure 40 ft. from “tip to tip,” the two “wings” being each 4 ft. 2 in. front to rear at the center of the machine, tapering to a point at the extremities as in the Antoinette machines. The total supporting surface is about 150 sq. ft. The cloth used is “heather silk.” Each wing is double covered. This cloth has been found very good without treatment.’
  • Supplementary Surfaces.—There is a rear horizontal control 12 ft. spread by 3 ft. 2 in. front to rear. Pivoted at the center of the rear horizontal control is a vertical rudder measuring 4 ft. high by 4 1/2ft. front to rear. The tips of the main surfaces are movable for lateral stability. These wing tips are controlled independently of each other or in unison as desired. For instance, the left tip can be moved up or down without disturbing the right tip, and vioe versa, each having a separate lever. Moving both levers to the right will lower front edge of right tip and elevate front edge of left tip. A reverse action is obtained by a reverse movement of the lever. These tips pivot near the center of the main planes front to rear and are operated^ by means of flexible wire cable running over pulleys, between the two layers of cloth, to a short vertical mast at the junction of the wing tip with the main surface. The same levers moved forward will elevate the front edge of the rear horizontal control, causing the machine to descend. Pulling both levers toward the operator will depress the front of the rear control, causing a rise. A cross bar just under the body in front of the aviator, pivoted in the center and used as a foot lever, is connected by wires with the vertical rudder for right and left steering. Pushing out on the left foot turns the machine to the right, the movement being the same as with the handle bar of a bicycle.
  • Body Framing, Etc.—The body, of rectangular cross-section, is covered with the same cloth as the surfaces. The front portion of this body is mounted in a large vertical triangle like a letter “A.” Just in front of this “A” will be situated the motor, while the aviator sits just back of it. From the extreme front point of the body a curved skid extends down to the base of the “A,” though later a patented skid will be employed. Another curved skid holds up the rear end of the aeroplane. The body and wings are both fastened and stayed to this “A.” The length of the aeroplane over all is 24 feet. White spruce is used for all framing. Bolt holes have been avoided almost entirely. The framing measures 1 in. by 3/ in. The body is 22 in. wide at the aviator’s seat and 11 in. deep, and pointed at each end to avoid bolt holes. Clasps and sockets are provided for cross timbers. These sockets are made of No. 18 stamping steel. The weight of the apparatus without the motor and operator or propeller is about 100 pounds.

Aeronautics: The American Magazine of Aerial Locomotion Vol. 6, No. 3. March, 1910.— Curtiss Factory Busy. — The Wright suit has not caused the shutting down of the Curtiss aeroplane factory as the latter concern put up a $10,000 bond indemnifying the Wright company. An appeal from the opinion of Judge Hazel has been taken by the Curtiss attorneys and trial on appeal will take place when a date has been set. Glenn H. Curtiss was a guest at the annual banquet of the Automobile Club of America at the Waldorf Monday evening, January 31. The Steuben Club entertained him again at the Waldorf on February I.

Herring Injunction Denied. — The application for an injunction to prevent Curtiss from making exhibition flights for his personal profit instead of for the profit of the Herring-Curtiss Co., made by A. M. Herring, who failed to deliver a flying machine to the U. S. Government after repeated extensions of time, was denied by Judge Coman. This was just before Curtiss left for Los Angeles, and if granted would have prevented him from flying there. This was an action taken by Herring after an injunction had been secured by Curtiss enjoining Herring from disposing of any of his stock which he received in return for patents or inventions, which, it is claimed by the friends of Curtiss, were never put in evidence by Herring. Herring objected to Curtiss having his winnings or earnings by flights for himself, even though the directors of the company so voted. The directors then offered Herring the use of one of its machines with the same privilege, but this offer has not been accepted by Herring. Both Curtiss and Herring draw $5,000 a year salary from the Herring-Curtiss Co.

WRIGHT —PAULHAN SUIT. — Court Will Grant Wrights Injunction:— February 10.—Judge Hand, of the United States Circuit Court, Southern Division, is now considering the briefs in the Wright-Paulhan suit and is expected in a few days to render an opinion whether a temporary injunction should issue. When Paulhan arrived in this country papers in the suit were served upon him. The next day Judge Hazel’s opinion in the Wright-Curtiss suit was rendered and that afternoon the Wright company got an order to show cause why Paulhan should not be enjoined from flying. This motion was argued before Judge Pland on Tuesday and Thursday of last week. At one point in the Thursday hearing, Wilbur Wright himself took up the argument and was so convincing that the Court announced his intention to immediately grant the injunction but a question to Wright by Israel Ludlow, who is associated with Clarence J. Shearuin Paulhan’s defense, raised the point of reasonable doubt whether the Farman machine operates like the machine of the Wright patent. A sketch of the operation of the Wright aeroplane was printed in the November, 1909. issue; a sketch of the Farman machine was printed in the February, 1910, number. These issues are exhausted but copies of the sketches may be had.

Orville Wright flying at Fort Meyer, or Myer, 1909.

Orville Wright flying at Fort Meyer, or Myer, 1909.

HOW Wright’s Machine Turns Corners. — An affidavit of Lieut. F. E. Humphreys, of the Signal Corps, who has flown the Government machine, was put in evidence by the Paulhan side. The Wright attorneys also put in a Humphries affidavit which amplified the statements made in the previous one. Lieut. Humphreys’ operation of the Wright machine is described by him as follows, as regards turning: “In turning in flight the outer wing is elevated by increasing the angle on the side opposite to that to which it is desired to go. Elevating the outer wing is essential to prevent the aeroplane from skidding. The rudder is turned in the direction to which it is desired to go, which is also the side having the smaller angle of Incidence. Therefore the wing with the greater angle rises and advances instead of being retarded as would be the case if the wings were warped without any movement of the tail. Technically considered, there are differences between the action of the vertical rudder of the Wright machine and the rudder of a ship, since in correcting lateral balance by warping the wings the rudder may be turned to one side to correct difference of the right and left wings, without causing the machine to turn. As the rudder is turned, the wings are warped. Then the angle of inclination on the outer side is brought back slightly past the normal so as not to continue the transverse inclination of the aeroplane further. Usually, during the turn the larger angle is on the same side as that to which the rudder is turned with reference to the longitudinal axis of the machine. To restore the course of a straight line, the rudder is brought back to a neuter state, and the aeroplane rights upon a horizontal balance. By the instruction of Mr. Wright, I aim to keep the machine skidding slightly outward when circling so that the rudder may be receiving a pressure on the side opposite the wing with the greater angle even when turned slightly toward that wing as compared with the longitudinal axis of the machine, since the axis of the machine and the relative wind do not quite coincide. This is the rule in all cases unless unforeseen and unusual occurrences interrupt the operation. The warping of the wings and the turning of the rear rudder is moved by one lever, which has two motions: that is, a forward and backward motion from front to rear to turn the rear vertical rudders from left to right; and the right and left transverse motion to increase the angle in each section, right and left respectively; that is to say, if one wants to make the larger angle on the right the lever is moved to the left. This enables the operator, in turning a corner, to increase the angle of inclination on the outer wing section and to elevate the same; or should it become necessary, as sometimes happens to be the case from disturbing wind currents, the operator may increase the angle of inclination of one side, and at the same time to swing the rear rudder in the direction of that side of the machine whose anole has been made smaller. All the way around the curve the position of the rear vertical rudder and the warped surfaces vary, one state of affairs requires a different position of the levers from another. In the last flight I made on the machine which was in company with Lieutenant Lahm, the machine was flying close to the ground, when an attempt was made to raise the depressed wing by increasing the inclination of the low wing and decreasing the other but owing to failure to promptly set over the tail toward the wing whose angle had been decreased, the depressed wing refused to rise and struck the ground causing damage to the machine.”

HOW PAULHAN TURNS. — In an affidavit submitted by Paulhan he says that though the “rear rudder is sometimes moved toward the angle of least incidence at the beginning of a sharp turn,” it would be “suicidal to connect the rear rudder with the warping of the wing so that the rear vertical rudder would always be turned to the side having the least angle of incidence or to have the rear vertical rudders in any degree controlled by the movement of the aileron or the warping of a wing.” He goes on to say:— “Under one condition an operator might increase the angle of incidence considerably on the right and move the rudder slightly to the left. Under different conditions he might increase the angle of incidence slightly on the right and move the rudder considerably toward the left. Under other conditions he might increase the angle of incidence on the right and move his vertical rudder to the right. For example, suppose the aeroplane to be proceeding northerly with the right wing tilted up at an angle of 10 degrees or more and to be suddenly struck with a gust or air current from the east. The operator would instantly bring his rudder toward the east or the angle of greatest incidence so as to swing or steer the aeroplane into the head of the wind. It is to steer with, maintain and control direction that the vertical rear rudders are used and it is only occasionally as in turning a sharp corner that the rudders are used by turning them to one side or the other at the same time that the angle of incidence is changed and even in those cases, as above stated, whether the rudders are turned toward the, angle of least incidence or the reverse depends upon the condition of the moment. The ail essential requirement for safe and practical operation is that the operation of the vertical rudders shall be wholly independent of and distinct from any wing warping or increasing angles of incidence by means of ailerons or otherwise. “In turning a corner in the Farman biplane machines * * * or in any aeroplane that I am familiar with, it Is not at all essential to use the aileron so as to increase the angle of incidence\ on the outer edge in turning a corner. There are circumstances in making a turn in such machines and in a straightaway flight when the operator would use the aileron or warp the wings without turning the rudder at all and very often the rear vertical rudders are used without any interference with the ailerons or without any wing warping. “If for some cause such aeroplanes move obliquely to their longitudinal axis, in other words, skid, the use of the rudder alone will correct the aeroplanes’ equilibrium and bring them back to their normal line of advance. The operator can make a complete turn by the use of the rear vertical rudders alone and without using either ailerons or warping to correct horizontal equilibrium. The rear vertical rudders have a most powerful turning effect in all cases. In making a sharp turn the outer end of the aeroplane may be tilted up and a new plane of movement established which may be at an angle of ten or more degrees. The tendency of the rudder during such movement is to swing the tail to the outer side of the turning arc with great rapidity. “Where one side of the Farman biplane * * * is depressed or tilted downward the side which is depressed tends to move more slowly and the aeroplane turns in the direction of the depressed side.”

PULHAN SAYS WRIGHT PATENT OF MACHINE IS IMPRACTICABLE. — Paulhan states in his affidavit that he is informed the Wrights have abandoned the system described in their patent and now build aeroplanes with absolutely independent action and control of rudders and wings. He says: “An aeroplane with flat sustaining surfaces issueless. To get lifting power the surfaces must be curved and the curve is a matter of careful study and adjustment and is not any mere curve that may be produced by a sagging or bellying canvas. As for having the rear vertical rudder controlled by and dependent upon the movement of the rope or lever that changes the angle of incidence, that is utterly impracticable and extremely dangerous. * * * Under such conditions a gust of wind or sudden air currents from the side of the aeroplane that was tilted up would inevitably upset the machine unless the rudder could be quickly and sharply turned toward the wind so as to steer the machine around into the face of the wind.”

PRIOR ART. — That the Wrights admitted the prior art in the file wrapper of their application for patent is claimed m the quotation following: “We are aware that prior to our invention flying machines have been constructed having superposed wings in combination with horizontal and vertical rudders.” After mentioning the airship patent of Lewis A. Boswell, Sept. 24, 1901, the Mattullatli patent application filed Jan. 8, 1900, and the D’Esterno, Alouillard, Le Bris and Ader machines discussed in Mr. Chanute’s “Progress in Flying Machines,” an affidavit is submitted signed by Dr. A. F. Zahm. In this he refers to his paper read before the Chicago Conference on Aerial Navigation in 1893, and printed in the proceedings in 1894 in which Dr. Zahm suggests moving the slats of the Phillips machine on either side thereof so as to present one side of the machine at a greater or less angle of incidence than the other to “arrest all pitching, rocking and wheeling.” He goes on to say: “In general, at the close of the 19th century all essential principles and contrivances of pioneer might were well worked out except one—a suitable motor. A light automobile motor appeared in the latter nineties and promptly thereafter followed the dynamic flyer. * * * The essential elements of aviation, barring the motor, had been clearly worked out. No further need to prove feasible the heavier-than-air machine, for that had been done repeatedly. Scientific design and patient trial, not physical research, was the chief demand. Further research would improve the aeroplane, but not bring it into practical operation. The aeroplane was sufficiently invented. It now wanted, not fastidious novelty, but concrete and skilful design, careful construction, exercise in the open field. “The first person, to my knowledge, to apply for a patent involving the three-rudder system control was Hugo Mattullath, who in 1899, showed me, and many others, plans for an aeroplane having a vertical rudder in the rear and lateral steering planes on either side, fore and aft, of the main body, so disposed that he could cause the aeroplane to turn about either of the three rectangular axes at will.”

 New York, February 17. — Judge Hand to-day rendered opinion that “ailerons” are equivalent to general helicoidal warping through the whole plane, and will grant temporary injunction. Appeal being taken by Paulhan’s lawyer.

NEW CURTISS AGENTS. — The Frank H. Johns Mercantile Co., of San Francisco have taken the California agency for the Curtiss aeroplane, having placed an order for eight machines. Henry Wemme, of Portland, Ore., has taken the Oregon agency for the Curtiss machine and engaged George W. Kleiser as demonstrator. An observer of Charles K. Hamilton’s flight in a Curtiss machine with the rear vertical rudder tied, steering with the “wing tips,” only states that the aviator had “perfect control” of the machine. This experiment was made to offset the argument of the Wrights that the rudder must be moved in conjunction with the use of the wing tips on the Curtiss machine, thereby infringing one claim of their patent. Jerome S. Fanciulli, sales manager of the Curtiss aeronautical department, is authority for the statement that in the near future a long-distance 8-cylinder aeroplane will be put out.

Series of flights from May through July, just after the opening of the Wright Flying School, probably Orville acting as instructor; Simms Station, Dayton, Ohio, 1910.

Series of flights from May through July, just after the opening of the Wright Flying School, probably Orville acting as instructor; Simms Station, Dayton, Ohio, 1910.

Curtiss Known as, The Father of US Naval Aviation:— In June 1910 demonstrated bombing runs too naval officers at Hammondsport within two months while flying his biplane with Lt. Jacob E. Fickel seated successfully dropped bombs on targets. The seeds of US naval aviation were planted deeply, ending the year Curtiss organised and constructed a winter camp at San Diego California instructing future Navy and Army aviators. While providing aviation courses, on 14th November he demonstrated with aviator Eugen Ely, taking-off from a temporary elevated platform constructed on the cruiser USS Birmingham forward deck. The winter of 1911 developed the first sea-aeroplane by taking-off and landing on water, 26th January in the USA. A great interest to the Navy, especially when Eugene Ely used Curtiss’s biplane to land on a platform modified to the battleship USS Pennsylvania rear deck, known as the first arrester-cable landing on a ship. By 28th January Ellyson the first naval aviator was appointed, and took-off seated in Curtiss’s “grass cutter,” by 24th February conducted the first amphibian demos at North Island, successfully landing on land and water. Orville was rattled when the Aero Club of America first issued licences in alphabetical order, on 8th June Curtiss received U.S. Pilot’s License #1, while Orville was issued #5. July sold the Navy their first air-machine, “A-1 Traid” seaplane fitted with retractable wheels. When the Wright bothers got wind the Traid, was purchased by Britain, Germany, Russia, Japan, and the US for their naval forces, and for engineering the seaplane awarded the Collier Trophy, demanded immediate compensation. During 1912-13, partnered with Porte for the first Transatlantic crossing attempting to win the Daily Mail prize, first manufactured a large two seat flying boat styled as Flying Fish. In 1914 Curtiss and Porte engineered and constructed a bigger flying boat equipped with two engines, named America.

The Wright’s lawyers were still hard at work, suing American, foreign aviators dismissing fees while participating in US demonstrations, and competitions, included Louis Paulhan France’s top aviator. By this time Wilbur as the expert witness spent countless of hours in court, while Orville lacking innovation was overseeing production. Diminishing the company, ending 1911 the Wright’s machines lacked development, European companies, and aviators manufactured superior engineered aeroplanes at the fraction of the cost. In 1912-13 the Wright’s downwards spiral and victory were bitter sweet, during a trip to Boston Wilbur suddenly fell ill with Typhoid fever and died within a month. Orville blamed Curtiss for Wilbur’s death, developed post exhausting travels and stress from countless of court appearances and lawyer meetings endured by his bother, now inheriting the reins and responsibilities. The US Army questioned the stability and safety of Flyers purchased from the Wrights, when a series of fatal accidents accrued in mid 1912. By mid 1913 with unknown seriously injured and eleven dead in the Wright’s Model B, while all six model C crashed, constantly nose diving. Orville arrogantly stood firm blaming pilot error, advised at an extra added cost, they would install flight indicators avoiding steep climbs, military brass were not impressed. The Government launched an investigation concluding, the Wright’s model C was, “dynamically unsuited for flying,” prompting the US military too ground and discard all aeroplanes with “pusher” propellers. The engine placed behind the aviator concerned the military, favour “tractor” type propellers, avoiding the aviator being crushed by the engine propelling forward in a crash. Included “planes” purchased from Curtiss’s, Orville dragged his heals believing any drastic engineering changes, would have serous negative implications on the “ailerons” lawsuit. The Wright aviation company won their case against Curtiss on February 1913, judge ruling that, “ailerons are covered under the patent: Curtiss’s lawyers swiftly appealed the decision. With in a year the US Circuit Court of Appeals on January 1914, uphold the 1913 ruling on ailerons were part of the Wright’s 1906 patent, accounts stating, Orville with a sense of vindication pulled the reins on “legal action insuring a manufacture monopoly,” is certainly not factual. The latter derives from Grover Loening lamented company manager anecdote: “In no time Curtiss…could have been closed down or bought up, and we would have seen a totally different development of flying starting here and spreading to Europe exactly as the telephone monopoly did…At any rate, it did not happen because of one man–Orville Wright. With the winning of the suit, his revenge on Curtiss seemed satisfied, and all he wanted was…royalties from everyone.”

Aerial Experiment  Association Drome Curtiss' Loon on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 5, 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome Curtiss’ Loon on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 5, 1908.

Aeronautics: The American Magazine of Aerial Locomotion Vol. 7 No.1 July 1910. Wright Injunction Vacated. New York, June 15.— Yesterday the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the temporary injunction granted the Wright Company against the Herring-Curtiss Co. by Judge Hazel at Buffalo. The history of the action is as follows: The Wright Co. moved for a preliminary injunction before Judge Hazel. He held the infringement and validity of the Wright patent had been proved without doubt in the hearing and granted the relief prayed for. Judge Hazel, however, was willing to suspend the issuing of the order, but required the defendants to put up a $10.000 bond until the appeal, which was immediately taken by Curtiss, was decided. Now the Court of Appeals has reversed the Hazel opinion, with costs, and a trial of the infringement suit will now be had before Judge Hazel, with cross-examination of witnesses. The $10,000 bond is cancelled. The reversal of opinion in the case is not a criterion of the outcome, for no trial on merits has been held. The Court of Appeals merely holds that on account of sharp conflict of evidence and the number of affidavits submitted after the original decision, infringement was not so clearly established as to justify a preliminary injunction.

Lamson vs. Wright Suit. — Paxton, Warrington & Seasongood, of Cincinnati, representing Becker & Blakeslee, of Los Angeles, Cal., have filed papers in a suit against The Wright Company and Wilbur and Orville Wright, in the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Southern Division, at Cincinnati, by the filing of a bill of complaint against the defendants stated, Charles H. Lamson being complainant. The bill of complaint prayed for an injunction restraining the defendants from making, using or selling aeronautical apparatus, such as flying machines, embodying the invention for which Letters Patent of the United States were issued to Mr. Lamson, January 22, 1901, No. 666,427. This patent, it will be seen, antedates by over two years the date of application of the Wright patent under which patent the Herring-Curtiss Company and Glenn H. Curtiss and Louis Paulhan have been sued for infringement. The bill of complaint filed as above also asked for an accounting of damages and profits.

The Lamson patent, while stating that the invention relates to “ribbed aerocurved kites,” nevertheless sets forth that the construction is capable of use as a flying machine by the application of suitable propelling and guiding mechanism. The patent discloses means for “tilting or inclining” the tips of the wings or planes at each side of the body, and these means are claimed to be equivalent to those embodied in the Wright patent and in the Wright flying machines.

The patent contains the following claim:

  • “The herein-described kite having a central frame, wings projecting out from each side of said frame and means for tilting the tips of said wings with relation to the body of the wing.”

Mr. Lamson charges that the Wrights simply incorporated in their flying machine his invention; directed at maintaining lateral stability by warping or twisting the wings or supporting surfaces.

Becker and Blakeslee say:

  • “We understand the Wrights insist that anybody can use a box kite, but Lamson’s kite as shown in his patent is a triplane comprising ribbed aerocurves and connecting posts or upright standards jointed thereto corresponding to Wright construction. Also tip warping or tilting means and a tail or rudder having horizontal and vertical members. Lamson’s device as patented and operated resembles closely general flying machine structures minus propelling and guiding mechanism.”

Judge Hand, in his opinion in the Wright-Paulhan case, said: “I cannot see any relevancy in, this patent.”

The larger illustration gives a perspective view of the Lamson kite with the covering removed from the upper wing on one side. The tilting is effected as follows:

  • “A general adjustment is made by guys “K,” each of which is secured at the front lower comer of the frame and at the under side of the upper arm ‘C by screw-eyes, or by other suitable means. By adjusting the position of these screw-eyes a general adjustment of the wings on each side may be made. A more delicate adjustment is obtained by loosening one of the diagonal tiewires of the panel and’ tightening the other. The simple means here shown for accomplishing this result are two loops f, adapted to slide on the uprights d, each of the two diagonal tie-wires passing through one of these loops. By sliding both of these loops up or down, the inclination of the ribs to the horizontal is adjusted with great precision.”
"Wilbur Wright during Hudson-Fulton Celebration, New York Oct. 1909." Distant one-half right front view of Wright Type A, piloted by Wilbur Wright, in flight over the steam yacht "Viking" (owned by New York banker George F. Baker, Jr.) in New York Harbor during the Hudson-Fulton Celebration, New York City, October 4, 1909. The biplane has been fitted with a canoe affixed to the underside to provide emergency flotation. Other ships, including a large ferry at left, can been dimly seen in background.

“Wilbur Wright during Hudson-Fulton Celebration, New York Oct. 1909.” Distant one-half right front view of Wright Type A, piloted by Wilbur Wright, in flight over the steam yacht “Viking” (owned by New York banker George F. Baker, Jr.) in New York Harbor during the Hudson-Fulton Celebration, New York City, October 4, 1909. The biplane has been fitted with a canoe affixed to the underside to provide emergency flotation. Other ships, including a large ferry at left, can been dimly seen in background.

Aeronautics: The American Magazine of Aerial Locomotion Vol. VII., No. 2, August 1910. — The Wright Suits. — New York. July 1. The U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday denied the motion on behalf of the Wright Company asking that the Curtiss concern put up a bond to protect the petitioner from loss in the event of winning the patent suit. The petition sets forth the loss being done the Wright Company by the flights of Curtiss and Hamilton and others using Curtiss machines. In the last issue the dissolution of the injunction against Paulhan and Curtiss was announced. The suit against Saulnier has been dropped as he left the country. Pressure of work that has seemed more important has prevented suits being brought against Harmon and other alleged infringers but the matter is not being held open awaiting final decision on the original suits. The Wright Company in the near future will proceed against every infringer who is injuring its business. The Wright Co. has filed a demurrer to the action brought by Charles Lamson alleging infringement, stating that the bill of complaint does not show whether the infringement was committed by the defendants jointly or severally, and that it does not aver execution of the letters patent according to law.

WRIGHTS MADE DOCTORS OF LAW. — Oberlin College has conferred upon Orville and Wilbur Wright the degree of Doctor of Laws.

Aeronautics: The American Magazine of Aerial Locomotion Vol. IX, No. 3. Sept., 1911: —The Chicago Aviation Meet Aug 12 – 20, 1911, at the Chicago Aviation Field on the edge of Lake. TWO men lost their lives, 3 new world records were made, 300,000 people were present and aviators received $101,114.87 at Chicago, Aug. 12-20, the second big meet which has been held in this country; one which outshone the other at Belmont last fall. The Wright Company won $16,029 and received royalties of $100 a day from Rodgers, Beatty, Sopwith, Brindley and Drew, independent Wright fivers. Curtiss” men got $27,291, Moisant $8,143. The largest single winner was Sopwith who drew down from the paying teller $14,020, while the smallest was poor Lewkowicz who, with his Queen Monoplane, won 60 cents in a flight of 18 seconds, plus 250 expenses for having his machine on the grounds. The expenses of the meet were approximately $195,000 and the total receipts were $142,901 leaving a deficit of over $50,000 for the promoters to face.

On August 7, papers were served upon officers of the International Aviation Meet Association, in a suit brought by the Wright Company, which alleges that the machines competing are infringements of the Wright patent. A share of the profits and damages are asked. Each aviator was allowed “expenses” of $500 after he had flown for 5 minutes. Two dollars was paid for every 60 seconds an aviator was in the air, in addition to all prize money won in contests provided that the sum thus earned exceeded his prize winnings alone, in which case he was given the difference between the prize winnings and the total at the $2 a minute rate. Where no prizes were won the $2 a minute rate was applied.


 Before the Primary Examiner, Division 22

  • In Re Interference #34455 Alexander Graham Bell et al. v . George Francis Myers. Flying Machines.
  • Alexander Graham Bell et al., Care Mauro, Cameron, Lewis & Massie, 700 Tenth St., H.W., Washington, D. C.

Please find below a communication from the EXAMINER in regard to the above-cited case.

Very respectfully . E. B. Moore , Commissioner of Patents . —1759

This is a motion brought by Myers under Rule 109 to amend by including his claims as additional county to the issue. These claims correspond to claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 24, 27, 28 of the patent to Bell et al.

2B-42M. In a flying machine, the combination of a supporting surface having a positive angle of incidence, a pair of lateral balancing rudders, one on each side of the medial fore and aft line of the structure, and each of said rudders normally having a zero angle of incidence, and connections between said rudders whereby one is adjusted to a positive and the other to a negative angle of incidence.

For further reading and PDF on the complete decision fallow LOC link: — http://www.loc.gov/resource/magbell.13710114


Aerial Experiment Association Drome Curtiss' Loon on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 30, 1908.

Aerial Experiment Association Drome Curtiss’ Loon on Lake Keuka, near Hammondsport N.Y., Nov. 30, 1908.

Countries like Germany, etc, ruled the Wright’s US patent was not valid, while North American companies forked 20% many others refused especially in Europe; legal wrangling would carry on until the patent expired in 1917. Noted while that specific patent was discarded, the Wright and Curtiss companies accumulated countless by 1917 and were the major patent holders in the US, prevented the development and manufacturing of new aeroplanes. The last US Army Wright Model L single prototype “scouting” flyer manufactured in 1916, the army approved by the US Government, purchased flying machines built in France. Early 1917 Curtiss threatened too launch lawsuits on American manufactures infringing on his vast collection of aviation patents. Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics seeing the need and benefits of new American built aeroplanes for the war effort. Concluded and strongly suggested to the US Government, an enforced patent pool was in dire need, applying pressure, owing both major patent holders for years crippled the US aviation industry. Wright-Martin, Curtiss and other major US companies at first resisted, bluntly informed, the US government could temporally suspend, a denunciation of their patents. Prior passing of the bill, NACA sent official letters requesting they submit lists of patents, the Bill passed 13th February 1917, signed into law 20th February 1917, dragging until June when both companies reached an agreement. The “patent pool” mostly benefited Curtiss; “any and all claims which they or any of them may have had against each other for damages and profits on account of any infringement, or alleged infringement.”

US Government hastily authorised the “Manufacturer’s Aircraft Association,” enforcing all aviation companies too join by pay a small flat fee, for use of aviation patents for “each aeroplane manufactured.” Association formation organising cross-licensing, the majority of money would be absorbed by Curtiss and Martin Wright companies, only for one year, or until their specific patents expired. Orville on October 1915 sold the Wright Company, purchased by a group of investors from New York a year later merging with Glenn L. Martin Company, and restyled Wright-Martin Company. The one year ended and never renewed during 1918, with Orville retired, “patent wars” ended, the cynical public opinion of the Wright’s greediness overlooked, as decades passed, their reputation soared misleadingly above the clouds. At first regarded as American heroes, negative public sentiment lingered for years, their image damaged, while supporters stated the brothers were fully justified protecting their interests, years of devoted work leading to the invention.

In Canada Gordon K. Hood Sr., at the age of 19 with his friend, built an aeroplane from seen photos in 1913. Hood; a native of Toronto and a pioneer flier; retired from aviation Dec. 31 after 20 years with Bell Aircraft Corporation; of Buffalo; N.Y.

In Canada Gordon K. Hood Sr., at the age of 19 with his friend, built an aeroplane from seen photos in 1913. Hood; a native of Toronto and a pioneer flier; retired from aviation Dec. 31 after 20 years with Bell Aircraft Corporation; of Buffalo; N.Y.

Decision, June 29, 1915. — COPY Final Hearing June 29, 1915.

  • In the United States Patent Office.
  • Patent Interference N o 34,455.

Bell, Baldwin, McCurdy, Curtiss, and Selfridge (Administrator Estate of Thomas E. Selfridge, deceased) v. Myers.

Flying Machines.

Patent granted Alexander Graham Bell, Frederick W. Baldwin, John A. Douglas McCurdy, Glenn H. Curtiss, and Edward A. Selfridge (administrator estate of Thomas E. Selfridge, deceased) Dec. 5, 1911, N o 1,011,106; application Serial N o 488,779, filed Apr. 8, 1909.

Application of George Francis Myers filed Oct. 31, 1911, Ser. N o 657, 719; division of Ser. No 466,808, filed Dec. 5, 1908.

Messrs. Mauro, Cameron, Lewis & Massie for Bell, Baldwin, McCurdy, Curtiss, and Selfridge.

Mr. George Francis Myers, pro se.

This interference involves (1) a patent (N o 1,011,–106) to Alexander Graham Bell, Frederick W. Baldwin, John A. Douglas McCurdy, Glenn H. Curtiss, and Edward A. Selfridge (administrator of the estate of Thomas E. Selfridge, deceased), granted

December 5, 1911, on an application filed April 8, 1909; and (2) an application of George Francis Myers, filed October 31, 1911, the same being a division of an application filed by him on December 5, 1908.

The invention which forms the subject matter of this interference relates to a flying machine and more particularly consists of means for maintaining or restoring the lateral equilibrium thereof. The invention is clearly defined in the issue, comprised of twenty counts, of which the following will suffice as examples:

  • 1.In a flying machine, the combination of a supporting surface having a positive angle of incidence, a pair of lateral balancing rudders, one on each side of the medial fore and after line of the structure and each of said rudders normally having a zero angle of incidence and connections between said rudders.
  • 9. In a flying machine, the combination of a supporting surface having a positive angle of incidence, a pair of lateral balancing rudders, one arranged on either side of the medial fore and aft line of the machine, means normally supporting said lateral balancing rudders at a zero angle of incidence, and means operating to simultaneously shift said balancing rudders to equal and opposite angles of incidence.
  • 16. In a flying machine, the combination of a plurality of suitably spaced supporting surfaces having a positive angle of incidence, means uniting said supporting surfaces, a pair of lateral balancing rudders, one on each side of the medial fore and aft line of the structure and outside of the marginal extremities of said supporting surfaces and each of said rudders normally having a zero angle of incidence, and a single controlling lever operatively connected to both of said rudders and having a part in operative relation with the person of the aviator.
  • 17. In a flying machine, the combination of a plurality of suitably spaced supporting surfaces having a positive angle of incidence, a member projecting outside of the lateral marginal line of said surfaces, a rudder fulcrumed to each of said projecting members and normally having a zero angle of incidence, and means for operating said rudders.
  • 18. In a flying machine, the combination of a pair of superposed supporting surfaces having a positive angle of incidence, means uniting said supporting surfaces into a rigid non-flexing structure, a pair of lateral balancing rudders normally having a zero angle of incidence, one on each side of the medial fore and aft line of the structure and outside of the marginal extremities of said supporting surfaces, means connecting said rudders together whereby a movement of one imparts a reverse movement to the other, and operating means connected to both of said rudders.

For further reading and PDF on the complete decision fallow LOC link: — http://www.loc.gov/resource/magbell.13810105


 Le Coup de Grâce on The Wright’s Aviation Claims as Being the First: Wilbur Wright in May 1899 requested “aviation mechanical human flight assistance,” from the Smithsonian: “I am an enthusiast, but not a crank in the sense that I have some pet theories as to the proper construction of a flying machine. I wish to avail myself of all that is already known and then if possible add my mite to help on the future worker who will attain final success.” The Institute of history responded; read “Progress in Flying Machines,” published in 1894, by 13th May 1900 Wilbur wrote Octave Chanute. Their 10 year friendship abruptly ended during the patent wars, Chanute critically, and publicly challenged the Wright’s narrative, “on the amount of credit, if any.” Considering they religiously used data from, “Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation,” published in 1899 by Otto Lilienthal while designing their 1900-01 gliders. Decades later reviled the air machine of Victor Tatin, 1879; Jean-Marie Le Bris flying machine, Albatros II, 1868, however adding insult to injury a forgotten 1868 registered patent surfaced. On Aërial Locomotion, by Matthew Piers Watt Boulton from Tew Park, Oxford, London, was published in 1864, several “plane” designs, included the ailerons. Boulton’s at the Office of the British Commission of Patents, with his Petition, on 5th February 1868: Sealed the 4th August and dated A.D. 1868, 5th February, No. 392: “Improvements in Propulsion and in Aerial Locomotion, and in Apparatus connected therewith, Parts of which are applicable to Propellers and to Boilers.” Page 20, Boulton’s Improvements in Aërial Locomotion, &c., Ailerons Figure 5.  For free download fallow link. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Piers_Watt_Boulton#/media/File%3ABoulton_aileron_patent%2C_No._392%2C_1868_-_p._01.jpg

Aerial Locomotion coverpage, by M.P.W. Boulton, 1864.`

Aerial Locomotion coverpage, by M.P.W. Boulton, 1864.`

Aerial Locomotion M.P.W Boulton’s plane at the Office of Commission of Patents, with his Petition, on 5th February, 1868.

Aerial Locomotion M.P.W Boulton’s plane at the Office of Commission of Patents, with his Petition, on 5th February, 1868.

Henry R. Jex in 1985 and contemporary experiments conducted by Professor Fred E. C. Culick demonstrated the 1903 Wright Flyer was dangerously unstable and hard to control, while aviator anecdote confirmed the latter. The Wrights trained themselves in the 1902 glider by 03 familiar, many stating only they were capable of properly flying the Flyer. A majority of aeronautic historians, scholars, alike, support Charles Harvard Gibbs-Smith’s aviation historian, argument, he disclosed “a score of times.” Critiqued the Wright’s court victories would be “doubtful” if a 1868 patent of “a prior but lost invention” by M.W.P. Boulton been known in the period 1903–1906. The fact in 1903 the brothers patent was rejected, and only approved in 06 after retaining the services of a patent lawyer, begs to ask, whose wheels were greased? From 1906-15 if Boulton’s 1868, 5th February, No. 392 patent surfaced, the Wright’s claims, patent and lawsuits, would’ve never materialised. None of AEA’s aerodromes from 1907-09 utilised a wing-wrapping system to control the “plane,” while Alexander Graham Bell engineered and produced triangular ailerons: US Patent approved in December 1911.

The tale is it has no tail. The last invention of Glenn Curtiss; 1929.

The tale is it has no tail. The last invention of Glenn Curtiss; 1929.

While the Wrights are portrayed as being the first by mainstream history, and during 1910 Smithsonian recipients of the Samuel P. Langley Medal for Aerodromics; the Institute had a change of heart. On 6th May 1896, Langley’s Aerodrome No. 5, was successful with two unmanned flights, engine-driven heavier-than-air craft and size, launched over Potomac River near Quantico, Virginia. Noted, Langley first stumbled on 7th October into Potomac Lake, and December, both attempts met with the manned aerodrome crashing into the water. In the Wright brothers’ lawsuits, Curtiss in 1914 proving his patent argument, made 93 modifications to Langley’s Aerodrome, the Smithsonian was aware prior in attempting the flight. Samuel P., was the Institute’s secretary from 1887 till his death 1906, in conflict of interest, establishing Langley’s forgotten aeronautic endeavourers, legacy; Smithsonian never publicly acknowledged Curtiss’ heavily reengineering of the aerodrome. Although conducted successful short experimental flights, without affect to the Wright’s lawsuit concerning U.S. patent expired 1917, “the invention of a system of aerodynamic control that manipulated a flying machine’s surfaces.” The Smithsonian with evidence supporting their narrative publicly proclaimed, Langley’s aerodrome, as the first heavier-than-air craft “capable” of manned powered flight. Later Langley’s aerodrome was proudly displayed, pamphlets printed and downgraded the Wright brothers’ 1903 flyer, supposed invention, to play seconded fiddle. The Wright’s early quest for flight, Wilbur requested and received assistance from Langley, the Smithsonian and others, without their help and guidance the supposed 1903 flight would’ve never taken place. Lorin Wright and Griffith Brewer learned of the modifications, witnessed, photographed, some of Curtiss’ short flights, hastily informing Orville prompting a feud lasting decades with the Smithsonian.

Samuel P. Langley's Heavily Modified Aeroplane by Glenn H. Curtiss at Lake Keuka near Hammondsport, 1914.

Samuel P. Langley’s Heavily Modified Aeroplane by Glenn H. Curtiss at Lake Keuka near Hammondsport, 1914.

The irony; Orville would’ve stood upright in his grave knowing, in 1929 the Wright Company eventually merged and still in existence today as, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation.








2 thoughts on “Wilbur & Orville Wright Vs Glenn H. Curtiss’ Epic Aviation Patent Wars, 1908—1917.

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