The Birthplaces of Aviation

It didn’t all happen at Kitty Hawk.

Still on the ground in Ireland, Harry Ferguson’s monoplane looks like it’s already having lateral control issues. (Ferguson Family Museum, Freshwater, Isle of Wight)
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His second flight, on September 24, lasted 200 feet before a crosswind slammed him into an oak, crushing all but his engine and his spirit. By mid-1911 Gibson had fitted the same engine to a frame of four sprucewood wings, creating the
Multiplane. This aircraft was now controlled by foot rudders. But in one of aviation’s first examples of sponsor trouble, Gibson was grounded after a dispute with a promoter. In August 1911, Gibson’s assistant flew nearly one mile in Calgary before crashing the aircraft to splinters, ending Gibson’s interest in flight.

The Netherlands

In the autumn of 1910, Frederick (“Frits”) Koolhoven, an engineer and race car driver, and Henri Wijnmalen, a former student of medicine, delivered what was hailed as the first all-Dutch aircraft: the Heidevogel (Heatherbird). A Dutch car dealer established a subsidiary to stage test flights by the pair (and, one assumes, draw potential car buyers). The Heidevogel turned out to be a near-exact copy of a Henri Farman biplane. The records on this airplane are scarce, but at least one photograph shows it flying. 

Roger A. Mola is an Air & Space researcher.

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