History Who Really Invented the Airplane Part 6

About the controversy in history over who invented the airplane. A look at support for the various claims.





Supporters of Orville and Wilbur Wright deny that Ader flew in 1890, in 1891, or in 1897. They underscore the fact that Ader did not press his claims until 1906, when the Wrights were already acknowledged as the inventors of the airplane. Only after Ader could not officially prove that he flew in 1897, since his witnesses disagreed as to whether Avion III actually became airborne or simply made short hops off the ground when it was buffeted by crosswinds, did he assert that he had also flown in 1890 and 1891. He named dates and places but could not produce witnesses.

Pro-Wright authorities also contend that Ader's craft lacked the proper aerial design for controlled and sustained flight. Even if his engine could launch the craft, that did not constitute flying, for a sky-rocket powered by gunpowder could do the same. It was not until the Wrights took off in an aeronautically feasible craft, with its well-designed stabilizers and wings, that man flew for the first time, they assert. And in spite of the fact that there were no public or formal demonstrations, Orville and Wilbur had so well mastered aviation that by the fall of 1905 they could claim flights lasting half an hour covering distances of up to 24 mi.

As further proof there are the patents awarded by a French patent court in 1911 and an American patent court in 1914, which named the brothers as the inventors of the airplane. Charles Dollfus, honorary curator of the Paris Air Museum, who was assigned by the French government to examine Ader's papers after his death, stated categorically: "Ader did not fly for a single instant at Satory in the course of the tests of ... 1897." And, finally, the Wrights went on to prove their claims by perfecting the airplane and producing it commercially.

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