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Early Airplanes



There where some flights before the Wright Brothers historic flight on December 17, 1903. Clement Ader managed a short fight in a steam-powered airplane in 1890, but his fight was not controlled. Hiram Maxim also made a flight of this nature in 1894. It was obvious a heavier than air flying machine was impossible without an engine with a sufficiently high power to its rate ratio. With the arrival of the internal combustion engine it was made possible. Richard Pearse, a New Zealander, made a 150 yard fight in a monoplane powered by a two-cylinder petrol engine but admitted himself that it was not a controlled flight. This was on March 31st 1903, just months before the Wrights flight. Samuel Langley created the first airplane to make a sustained flight on the power of a petrol engine, though it was only a quarter-scale model. The full-scale model crashed in to the Pontiac River in December 1903 only days before the Wright Brothers flight. But it was on the 17th of December 1903 that the world’s fist controlled and sustained flight in a “heavier than air flying machine” took place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.