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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Flying Machines, the real life versions...

- Written by Andy -

It's fairly obviously known that I'm a PT nerd.but I'm also a bit of an air nerd as well, so this latest thread has got me interested in the various designs of the animals.

Did you know that every single animal/machine in the thread is a nod towards a real life item?

Some are more famous than others, some are just a random drawing with a forgotten history and some have a lasting influence on flight...

So I thought it would be interesting to go above and beyond the normal and take a look at the real life counterparts of our new additions...

The Flight Suit and variations

The flight suit and pretty much all its variations nod to one man, someone who was to gliding what Ford was to cars or one of the interchangeable Kardashians is to reality TV.

Otto Lilienthal was a Prussian/German engineer who'd been interested in flight from a child and after a career as an engineer started designing and flying his own gliders.

Here was a man so dedicated to gliding that he first built a 4 meter tower on his favourite launching place, then a 15 meter high conical hill so he could glide off in all directions and regularly invited photographers to come and snap him gliding, sometimes even managing to stay in the air shouting orders at them where to aim... certainly these photos give us a clear indication of how his gliders were constructed and lots of them can be seen in ours...

He held numerous records for distance and his experiments in flight included some of the most detailed examinations of storks and how they flew that opened up a number of avenues for other flight pioneers, including the Wright Brothers.

Sadly his end was down to the very thing he lived for, in 1896 his glider failed on the fourth run of the day, pitching forward and crashing. Lilienthal suffered a broken neck and despite medical assistance passed away a day later, with his last words being "sacrifices must be made".

He's still remembered though, with a gliding medal in his name, an airport in Berlin, a museum and a monument, built on the top of his own conical hill celebrating his life.

For more on Otto Lilienthal, check his Wikipedia entry HERE.

The Self Powered Contraption and variations

This set are largely made up of items that you'll find similarities in things, but not much historical record, they do, however, all have a basis in reality, which is a testament to human imagination and ingenuity... Or, just a catalogue of failed attempts... or both!

The Contraption itself is, surprisingly a common theme, during attempts at man powered flight, the idea of a bicycle with wings was a common one, this one seems to look most like some aborted attempts from the 1900's,

The Flappin' Hog is the most recognisable of the second series, being similar to a design by a name I'm sure most will know... Leonardo Da Vinci. 

While mostly known as an artist Da Vinci was an inventor beyond his time, designing, if not successfully building, a number of gadgets including a glider and even a helicopter.

All three of the others can be found in one for or another by searching for old flying attempts, with each one spottable in a google image search as a simple drawing or diagram but, sadly, with no real identifying history.

The Motored Machine and variations

This final set are almost all identifiable as being influenced by known designs.

The Motored Machine itself is a nod towards the aristocratically named Marquis' Multiplane.

It was the brainchild of the French Marquis d'Ecquevilley, a naval engineer who openly admitted he was just trying to make something simple and cheap.

There's no record of it doing any actual flying... but it was certainly unique and smacked of the idea that if two wings made the Wright Brothers plane fly, then what you needed to fly better was... MORE!

In fact, the amount of wings in our version is somewhat conservative, the first one had 11 wings, the final version known about had... wait for it... 50 wings. Just think if we had to ask for the stuff to make all of them...

You can read more about it HERE.

The Steam Spinner is possibly the one with the most long lasting effect on flight, certainly in its class.

It has definite parallels to the very first helicopter designed by Igor Sikorsky, a Russian/American designer who is credited with a number of planes and helicopters and a lasting name today.

To put it into context, take a look at this helicopter doing what I often feel is one of the most amazing sights in flight, lifting not only itself on what is little other than a very fancy fan blade... but taking a TANK up with it.

That helicopter is a Sikorsky CH54B, so that is the great, great, great, great grandchild of our Steam Spinner. Wow.

All I'm going to say about the Bouncin’ Buggy is watch from 45 seconds in on this YouTube clip of a Pathe News article in the 1920s.

Alrighty then!

Finally the Banded Prop... This is also one of the earlier ones, coming from 1883 and a Frenchman called Alexandre Goupil. While this one never became reality he did make an unpowered version which managed to glide and carry two men.

Latterly it's become named the Duck, but apparently that was a name attributed by others, but looking at the shape you can understand it!

To see more about Goupil, check HERE.

The Flying Machine rideable is obviously based on the Wright Brothers, the most famous plane in flight. This one is easy to search online and is almost impossible to miss!

Finally, the one I forgot as it's much more recent, the Slingin' Sheep.

This design is a nod towards a New Zealander, Connor Cameron. Cameron is a sheep farmer who largely produces for the local area, a rural area that Cameron found hard to transport sheep around in an efficient fashion.

He then worked towards a way to transport individual sheep via a pack made of CO2 canisters that drove the gas through funnels and a launching catapult to help them achieve "flight speed" as the packs couldn't produce enough initial force to move the sheep.

After much experimentation this was cancelled after it was discovered that steering was an issue, exacerbated by an incident involving one of the deliveries, the local vicar and a hedge.

Naah, that was all rubbish... the closest thing this comes from is Wile-E-Coyote and a Looney Tunes cartoon... but would be fun, right?