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Kiwi Flight Before the Wright Brothers?

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the stealing-the-glory dept.

Technology 336

houseofmore writes "The Toronto Star is is reporting that New Zealander Richard Pearse may have very well made several flights beginning almost nine months before the Wright Brothers ever got off the ground. It also notes that "Mad Pearse's" machine was in some ways more advanced than the first Wright Flyer."

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First Flight (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897405)

I got first flight, right?

YOU DID IT!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897459)

Now suck my dick motherfucker!!!!!!!!!

first.. (-1)

james3v (594478) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897411)

post???? omg omg omg

YOU FAIL IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897427)

I will never forgive you for such a horrible display of attempted first post. You are truly a loser and always will be.

YOU FAIL IT

Re:YOU FAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Carp Flounderson (542291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897458)

But he DID manage to score the first 4:20 post. (Raises the bong in a toast)

Bye Bye Karma; This is IMPORTANT (1)

D+iz+a+n+k+Meister (609493) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897478)

I, D+iz+a+n+k+Meister, would like to congratulate james3v on a 4:20 post. Good work. /. is now a better place. I would now like to swear my allegiance to the 4:20 post and abandon the IN SOVIET RUSSIA post. In closing, I would like to end with my original .sig:

"God put this here for you and me. Take advantage man. Take advantage."--Smokey

Fresh Pie! (-1, Offtopic)

Carp Flounderson (542291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897412)

Information wants to be wide.

Kiwis... (3, Funny)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897610)

are flightless, any fool knows that!

What do you mean RTFA?

First Flight! (-1, Offtopic)

SaxMaster (95691) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897413)

First Flight! OMG! I made the first flight! Screw the Wright Brothers, I'm First!

Re:First Flight! (0, Offtopic)

Imazalil (553163) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897455)

In Soviet Russia, everyone gets first post!!!

did the wright borthers yell (0, Troll)

crazyprogrammer (412543) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897414)

first landing!!! after their 12 second flight?

A funny country... (2, Funny)

LucidityZero (602202) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897415)

From the article:
"New Zealand is still a young country and it's a ... funny country>

Good stuff. Makes me want to go visit. :)

Sheep (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897424)

Well, they do fuck a lot of sheep there.

Re:A funny country... (2, Funny)

SaxMaster (95691) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897428)

"On second thought, lets not go to New Zealand, tis a silly place"

Re:A funny country... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897589)

hehe

yeah, wright (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897417)

thank you, thank you

In Soviet Russia..... (2, Funny)

Wibble_NZ (323762) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897418)

This is news.

Everywhere else, it's history.

In Soviet Russia, we flew this (2)

Caractacus Potts (74726) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897502)


Behold, the Russian flying machine [cyclogiro.com] , circa 1904.

Re:In Soviet Russia, we flew this (1)

houseofmore (313324) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897602)

Ah.. not even half as fantastic as a good old fasioned Tesla Trooper.

dupe (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897420)

This story feels like a dupe. It might not be, but knowing Slashdot's track record, it probably is...

Re:dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897437)

Well considering the news happened over 100 years ago, slashdot is offering timely news as usual.

Bamboo Dick (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897421)

"Mad Pearse," also known as "Bamboo Dick" for his building material of choice...

With a handle like that, one would imagine he may have been famous for something else...

For those of you too lazy... (-1, Troll)

LucidityZero (602202) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897426)

For those of you too lazy to read the article, it doesn't really count at all. Although his "plane" looked a lot like a plane, it was actually just a glider. It wasn't powered, which I do believe was the importance of the Wright Brother's flight. Other people had glided before, but no one had powered themselves off of the ground.

Re:For those of you too lazy... (2)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897449)

Think you're pretty smart, don't you? Posting so quickly with a scathing put down for those who didn't read the article.

It's just too bad you didn't read the article. Of course it's powered flight.

Re:For those of you too lazy... (1)

LucidityZero (602202) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897474)

From the article:

Dr. Peter Jakab, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., doesn't deny that Pearse got off the ground. "But what he flew was essentially a powered glider flying into a ravine. So it wasn't a true powered flight. He's just one of many pre-Wright claimants."

I'll make myself more clear next time, I guess.

Re:For those of you too lazy... (1)

Bunji X (444592) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897608)

Well, it's a thing called national pride, you know.

Stick photos and real hard evidence into this guys face. Show him that a replica of the actual craft really does work. He will still deny the Wrights weren't the first ones.

Not saying that Wrights weren't the first. Who knows? Really, who cares? Two to three guys claiming they were first in a span of about five years only shows that technology had evlolved far enough for self propelled aircrafts to become a reality.

They were bound to be invented, just a matter of time. If the brothers hadn't been there someone else would have done it in a couple of months.

ahem. . . (1)

D+iz+a+n+k+Meister (609493) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897453)

From the article:

The engine in Pearse's plane was considerably lighter than the Wrights' engine.

Re:For those of you too lazy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897461)

"The engine in Pearse's plane was considerably lighter than the Wrights' engine."
ummm.....
I don't know what your definition of powered is

Re:For those of you too lazy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897482)

Wow.... funny thing is your actually WRONG WRONG WRONG! Check out this link [itgo.com] , you ignorant ass.

Re:For those of you too lazy... (5, Interesting)

xA40D (180522) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897489)

Other people had glided before, but no one had powered themselves off of the ground.

Erm, yes they had.

Do a google on
"John Stringfellow"
"Clément Ader"
"Gustav Albin Weißkopf"

All of whom flew before both Richard Pearse and the Wright brothers.

The history of why the Wright Brothers are considered to be the first is almost as interesting as the history of aviation. For instance, this sounds plausible:

Dr. Peter Jakab, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., doesn't deny that Pearse got off the ground. "But what he flew was essentially a powered glider flying into a ravine. So it wasn't a true powered flight. He's just one of many pre-Wright claimants."

But as the Smithsonian can keep hold of the Wright Flyer only as long as the Smithsonian never claim that somebody else got there first, one has to say Dr. Jakab isn't exactly impartial.

If you ask me who was first is irrelivant. It was an idea whose time had come.

Re:For those of you too lazy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897522)

Hehe, as a Kiwi who got to visit the Air and Space Museum a couple of months ago, it was interesting to see what coverage Pearse got. I think in the whole exhibition he got one sentence, something along the lines of 'developed and patented some "novel" techniques'. Americans really don't know how to give anyone credit who isn't an American.

Re:For those of you too lazy... (3, Informative)

photonic (584757) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897531)

Don't forget Otto Lilienthal [aviation-history.com] , who is considered the father of gliding. He did lots of experiments with a sort of hangglider in Germany, some 10 years before the Wright Bro's.

I'm offended (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897429)

I'm very offended by the mere idea of Africans being the first to fly. Okay, call me a racist, but I swear I'm not. It's my joy as an American to know that the very root of the largest economic industry was created through an invention of other Americans. Just think about it, where are most of the third world countries? Africa. Where are the countries are the last to become economically and socially developed? Africa.

To think that a country such as New Zealand could be so ass backwords and still develop such a magnificient technology before Americans (even after 9-11, I add), that my friend, strikes a blow close to my heart.

Re:I'm offended (1)

Hairy Fop (48404) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897448)

Are you suggesting that New Zealand is in Africa, you really should look at an atlas one of these days. Oh and by the way "call me a racist, but I swear I'm not" is a sure sign that you are going to be both racist and ignorant.

Re:I'm offended (1, Flamebait)

trotski (592530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897467)

How about:

I'm not a racist but I play one on TV.

Is that a sure sign of being racist?

Re:I'm offended (5, Funny)

trotski (592530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897452)

I see what you're saying!

IF we start to believe that the Wright Brothers weren't the first to conduct a powered, controlled flight then the terrorists have already won. Won't somebody PLEASE think of the childeren!

Re:I'm offended (1)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897604)

but the terrorists HAVE already won

you ARE terrified

This has been repeated time and time again... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897431)

This has been repeated time and time again for years, it's just that most Americans are simply in the dark of the fact. Those historians that do realise it don't really mention it much.

Patriotism simply gets in the way of the truth sometimes. It's an unfortunate side-effect of human nature.

Mad Pearse (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897442)

More info on the man in question:

Richard Pearse: FIRST FLYER [nzedge.com]

Famous New Zealanders - Richard Pearse [nzemb.org]

And a sidenote from an article in Time magazine [time.com] :

Flight Pioneers

RICHARD PEARSE
His neighbors called him "Mad Pearse," but in March 1903 the reclusive New Zealand farmer climbed into a monoplane he had built at his Waitohi property and flew for about 140 m before crashing into a hedge. It may not have been a sustained flight, but it was the most successful powered take-off until the Wright brothers entered the record books in December 1903.

Re:Mad Pearse (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897477)

Lord Of The Ring's Peter Jackson directed a fake documentary named Forgotten Silver [theonering.net] . The movie showed footage from Richard Pearse's flight, and at the time no one knew the documentary was a fake until the next day.

That night on talkback radio (newstalk zb) there was a lot of joy. The occasional bitter american hating bastard called in, but no more that usual ;) It was really quite amazing, and the documentary promised that landmark event would be credited to New Zealand. It sounds silly, but it really was an awful feeling when the footage was announced as a hoax.

Still, excellent job. Good job Peter Jackson!

Obligatory LOTR misquote (1)

D+iz+a+n+k+Meister (609493) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897552)

One Bamboo Dick to rule them all!!

Re:Obligatory LOTR misquote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897618)

LOL

More Stuff on Bamboo Dick (5, Informative)

trotski (592530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897497)

Heres some more stuff:

Richard Pearse [itgo.com] - Features some really cool pics of his aeroplane
Richard Pearse, Aviator [nzhistory.net.nz] - Features a cool VRML 3d model of his flying machine. Remember VRML? Also has some dimensioned drafts.
Richard Pearse - New Zealand Pioneer Aviator [monash.edu.au] - IT's got soem schematics and descriptions of the engine he used.

Lots more cool stuff available out there if you feel like looking.

So what? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897443)

Big deal if he might or might not have flown first. When the brothers Wright, they gained the publicity needed to spur greater innovation in avionics. So it doesn't matter that he did it first, as he didn't didn't influence anyone important enough (like the Wright brothers did with the military). Interestigly enough, the article talks about how Pearse's aircraft was more 'modern', as it had ailerons for steering as opposed to the wing warping of the Wrights' craft. But isn't the aerospace industry trying to use wing warping technology in the next generation of aircraft? Kudos to the man if he actually did make a flying machine, that's no small task, but there's no real point to revise history for someone with so little impact.

Re:So what? (3, Insightful)

Hairy Fop (48404) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897595)

It probably matters little if your american. "It doesn't matter that we didn't fly first, there's no point changing the history books to fit what actually happened that would be silly!" Making it so that they lose less kudos to another country, by making it less important is cultural xenophobia.
It's not important that the Americans got to the moon first because they didn't make it commercially viable.Albert Einstein discovering relativity wasn't important because he didn't make it commercially viable.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897623)

You are not by any chance American? Didn't think so.

OUCH (3, Funny)

Rubbersoul (199583) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897446)

"Mad Pearse," also known as "Bamboo Dick" for his building material of choice...

The first thing I thought of was OUCH!!!

Re:OUCH (4, Funny)

minesweeper (580162) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897468)

Remember, bamboo can grow up to several inches per day, and reach lengths of 100 feet. So, maybe a "bamboo dick" isn't so "OUCH" after all.

This sounds like the ultimate compliment, or at least the ultimate spam advertisement.

Re:OUCH (1)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897494)

well I think it might be if the damn thing is so big and keeps growing... You dont want to rip a woman in half do you?

Essentially another first-poster, a 100 years ago (5, Insightful)

Vendekkai (121853) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897451)

A quote from the article, "Dr. Peter Jakab, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., doesn't deny that Pearse got off the ground. "But what he flew was essentially a powered glider flying into a ravine. So it wasn't a true powered flight. He's just one of many pre-Wright claimants."

Newspapers need to have stories like this occassionally. Therefore, Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare, and this guy flew first.

If he actually did, well, tough. Inventions and discoveries often happen contemporaneously. One of them gets the credit, and the others peddle paranoid theories.

Paranoid theories (4, Interesting)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897599)

I agree with you that inventions often are made by different people at about the same time. As another poster said, the idea was out, time was ready for flight. I also agree with you that the one who loses the fight for recognition often comes off as a paranoid loon.

But there is an important aspect of international politics here too. Being able to claim that your nation is the 'inventor' of aviation is a powerful tool of propaganda. Maybe not alone, but along with several other claims of invention, you would make your nation look intellectually superior to others. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and would probably give the inhabitants in that country greater confidence in themselves and their abilties or opportunities as inventors, thus spurring new inventions.

I perfectly understand why one would resort to this type of propaganda, but it is nevertheless still propaganda. Even if you or I don't care much what country really 'invented' aviation, somebody appearantly care enough to, if not falsify, then certainly to bend history to fit their means.

Even if in this particular case, the Wright brothers turn out to be the real 'inventors', there are plenty of other interesting examples out there (like Edison vs. Swan).

Patriotism is no excuse for ignorance

The Kiwi Flight was Great (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897463)

FOR ME TO POOP ON

its great..... (2, Interesting)

Ripping Silk (582933) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897464)

that New Zealand can make Slashdot news two days in a row.. with LOTR-TTT and this. But really, this is older than the hills of Hobbiton. Down these parts, its well accepted that Pearce took the first flight. But no-one in the 'outside' world new about it.. until well after the Wright's made the irectractable headlines. No big deal tho huh ?

Re:its great..... (2)

Yorrike (322502) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897508)

Few credit out $100 note gacing Ernest Rutherford for splitting the atom first either, but what ya gonna do?

Come to think of it, why isn't Pearce on one of our notes? Edmund Hillary and Rutherford are. I think we should kick the queen off our 20s and put a right nutter in her place. That'll learn 'em.

Re:its great..... (1)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897529)

why don't you direct your banknote suggestion somewhere it might do some good?

Re:its great..... (2)

Yorrike (322502) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897582)

Your right. I shouldn't be putting my banknote creativity into /. posts, but instead, direct it towards fighting crime and the forces of evil!

Re:its great..... (3, Funny)

ukryule (186826) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897609)

I think we should kick the queen off our 20s and put a right nutter in her place. That'll learn 'em.

Why not just wait for Prince Charles to become king, and it'll happen anyway?


Anyway, I'm guessing the next person to be put on a NZ banknote is going to be Frodo Baggins ...

Damn straight (2, Insightful)

pkplex (535744) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897466)

it was a kiwi whom flew first, just as it were a kiwi whom made the first pavolva :p

Re:Damn straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897516)

"Who," in this case, not "whom." Think of the case you're using.

Common knowledge.. at least in NZ. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897469)

sigh... this is common knowledge here in NZ, and has been for many many years.

<flamebait>but we're used to the americans taking the credit for everything </flamebait>

Re:Common knowledge.. at least in NZ. (1)

baker_tony (621742) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897526)

I learned this in School, around 20 years ago, yes, I'm a New Zealander. Good to see the States are finally catching up with the rest of the world...

Re:Common knowledge.. at least in NZ. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897628)

In 20 years time they will teach that LoTR was shot in USA with american director Peter Jackson.

One has to admire the nerve of this guy... (5, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897471)

Imagine... building such a machine from scratch, with hardly any prior experience to build upon. According to the article he had to figure out and build everything himself up to the engine and the prop. Then... climbing into that thing and actually flying it. Remember, this guy didn't attend flight school first.

Anyway, here's a picture of the replica and a lot more info. [itgo.com]

He may have been Mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897476)

...but that doesn't make him Wright.

Peter Jackson (5, Interesting)

Gatsby137 (632418) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897479)

As another post already mentioned, this story has been around a long while. It is even incorporated into Peter Jackson's fake documentary, "Forgotten Silver". Made for NZ television, it's about a mythical filmmaker named Colin McKenzie who supposedly pioneered all sorts of things like color film, etc. Along the way, he happened to film Pearse's flight. The movie shows the recently 'dicovered' footage, and does such a good job of it that a large number of viewers took it as real, and then got very mad at Mr Jackson when he pointed out it was false. Happily, New Zealanders now seem to be quite keen on him again, what with the success of that Lords and Rings movie. "Forgotten Silver" is on DVD, and you should check it out.

And in a few months, I get to travel to NZ again...hooray!

Cheers, Mike V.

Re:Peter Jackson (1)

Incadenza (560402) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897507)

It's a really nice scene too, this 'first flight'. You've got these fuzzy shakey images of men doodling with the aeroplane, and then a voice-over says something like "with the newest digital picture ehancement techniques". Then the camera zoomes in on one person in the picture, to the newspaper in his backpocket, and reads the exact date.

Forgotten Silver - Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897614)

Waikato University's media school has some good resources regarding the Forgotten Silver documentary [waikato.ac.nz] .

LOL, the first powered flight was made in France (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897480)

The first human piloted powered flight was made by the frenchman clement ADER in august 1890.

Stop believing the USA propaganda.

The wright brother haver made the first flight yeah, the first flight in the USA...

NINJA

Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897483)

Too late. The history is already written.

What I am trying to say that the Wrights have made too much of an impact for people to change their knowledge, even if this turns out to be correct.

Gustave Whitehead flew before all of them anyway (5, Funny)

Caractacus Potts (74726) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897484)

An American inventor named Gustave Whitehead allegedly flew in Aug 1901. Here's a site [deepsky.com] that explains more of his story. BTW, my ex-girlfriend's parents own the land where the Wright Brothers had their shop (now a hotel), so I'm practically an expert on the matter.

Re:Gustave Whitehead flew before all of them anywa (5, Funny)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897562)

BTW, my ex-girlfriend's parents own the land where the Wright Brothers had their shop (now a hotel), so I'm practically an expert on the matter.

My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend knows this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Ferris pass-out at 31 Flavors last night and who's parent's own the patent office that Einstein worked at, so if you have any questions about the theory of relativity I'm practically an expert on the matter.

Re:Gustave Whitehead flew before all of them anywa (1)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897567)

"BTW, my ex-girlfriend's parents own the land where the Wright Brothers had their shop (now a hotel), so I'm practically an expert on the matter."

Yep, that makes sense alright.

And Otto Lilienthal flew before them all (5, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897488)

http://www.wam.umd.edu/~stwright/WrBr/inventors/Li lienthal.html

For that matter the Wrights themselves flew long before they 'flew.' In gliders rather than powered planes.

Pearse's plane seems to have been something more than a mere glider, but less than a true airplane, which the article in question seems to say Pearse himself fully realized.

What perhaps Pearse didn't realize is that the Wrights were no more 'schooled' then he was, one of the facts that led many to deny the Wrights had actually flown. I mean really, just who were these upstart bicycle mechanics from *Ohio* who claimed to have accomplished that which those who the world acknowledged as having the best engineering minds had failed at, time and again?

Unlike Pearse though, the Wrights were highly scientifc and methodical in their approach. Taking every step slowly. Testing, testing, and then testing some more. Working up the final product in careful measured steps.

The true legacy of the Wrights wasn't the first flight. Just as Tesla left little for anyone else to do other than refinement in the world of electricity, the Wrights left little for others to do in the theoretical field of subsonic aeronautics. Some of their theoretical principles were so advanced that they weren't commonly accepted as true until after WWII.

It doesn't really matter who 'flew' first. The Wrights gave us the *field* of flight.

All that having been said Pearse certainly sounds like the sort of 'loon' I could spend a happy lifetime hanging out with.

KFG

It's All About Eyeballs (5, Insightful)

USC-MBA (629057) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897493)

This story may seem like a poignant bit of trivia about a footnote to history, but a deeper look reveals a lesson in this story for all of us.
There are photographs and exact data to prove that Orville Wright made a 12-second, 36.6-metre flight at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Dec. 17, 1903 (...)

There's nothing but a handful of informally collected eyewitness accounts to confirm Pearse's first flight.

The moral of the story is: never underestimate the importance of a good marketing department.

The Wrights were not stupid. They realized the importance of what they were doing and made sure that their efforts would be documented. As the above quote demonstrates, this documentation is what led them to fame and fortune.

In today's competitive marketplace, it is not enough to be a "geek" with a dream. Different people have different kinds of expertise, and one asset any inventor or entrepeneur needs is a good marketing department, one that will see that the right information gets out to the right market segments, ensuring success for all.

Microsoft, RSA, eBay, the tech world is full of companies whose founders had the foresight to recruit and work closely with top talent from the management, financial, and marketing communitites.

So remember the lesson of "Bamboo Dick" Pearse the next time you want to curse out some "marketroid" who doesn't have the same comfort levels around technology as you. His department might be the only thing that keeps your company from joining the long, long list of good business ideas that didn't quite work out.

So what? (2, Interesting)

jzu (74789) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897498)

This guy was not the only one. Take Clément Ader [flyingmachines.org] , for instance. He managed a flight of 50 meters in 1890 in a steam-powered bat-like aeroplane, but with the wrong technology, one that forbade improvements, when the Wrights gave the right direction (and came at the right time, too).

Its the popular one that always gets the credit (5, Interesting)

Cerlyn (202990) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897503)

The credit (or lack thereof) given to the inventor or discoverer throughout history has always been to the one that speaks loudest to the commons. We all know the debate that Columbus did not "discover" America, as there were plenty of people there first.

A lesser known example but just as true is was the fight between Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray over who invented the telephone [about.com] (Google other resources [google.com] ). In that battle, Bell filed a patent and Gray filed his caveat (intent to file a patent) the same day.

Sadly, we all too commonly think that a "single" person or firm must have invented something, while others often have inventions that predate them. It's no wonder the patent office is getting confused (although they really should try cutting down on the duplicates).

Re:Its the popular one that always gets the credit (2, Insightful)

larien (5608) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897519)

In 1492, Columbus discovered America.

This came as quite a shock to the Red Indians who had thought it was there all along.

(feel free to substitute Australia/Aboriginies)

Who's on First? (3, Insightful)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897504)

Yet again another claim to prior art in a world stuck on 'One-up-manship'.

This is obviously related to NASA's celebration (along with the rest of us Americans) of the centennial of flight, as measured in years from the first Wright Brothers flight. Reminds me of the other stories of the italian fellow who did radio first and the british fellow who did a version of television first.

Here in America we also celebrate Independence Day on the 4rth of July (unlike many other countries), we consider Ford's Model T to be the first car (we all know it wasn't), we take credit for baseball (a derivative of cricket and many other earlier games)and claim a lot of other national achievements which are just that, American 'achievements'.

What we don't do is tell the rest of the world to celebrate these individuals or events along with us in the same way that we, as a nation, don't celebrate French holidays or Chinese new year, unless it's out of personal regard.

You can argue that we attempt to force our events and holidays down the world's throat via media, etc. but that is all subjective. An example is MY birthday. It's important to me and my friends and family but you probably don't care too much. Now if I was a celebrity you might pay attention for entertainment's sake but that's your choice.

None of these people, Wright Brothers, this Australian fellow or any of the people I mention or who were involved in the events mentioned asked for your attention. They did what they did because they wanted to achieve their goals. Who's on First? Who cares! If you think the person is interesting and should be celebrated for their achievement then do so.

It's all subjective in the end so do what you think is best, give credit based on your own views and let others do the same.

Re:Where is First? (2, Interesting)

houseofmore (313324) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897568)

Urmm... maybe it's just me, but there is a big difference between Americans celebrating French holidays and spoofing facts in your children's history books.

And if you don't think you celebrate the Chinese new year, you've obviously not spent any time in San Fransisco or Manhattan... for a start.

Re:Who's on First? (2, Funny)

McGarnacle (634645) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897586)

Here in America we also celebrate Independence Day on the 4rth of July (unlike many other countries)

You mean, other countries don't celebrate the _American_ Independence day?!

Re:Who's on First? (2, Interesting)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897588)

"this Australian fellow"

New Zealander! Please pay attention.

"Here in America we also celebrate Independence Day on the 4rth of July"

(it's 4th) and at least that makes SOME kind of sense - America was a colony and gained independence, so a national holiday in celebration seems logical enough. Surely Americans don't REALLY believe the Ford Model T to be the first car? Apart from anything else, there were plenty of American cars that preceded it.

Hey, that's my neighbourhood :). (4, Interesting)

A Rabid Tibetan Yak (525649) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897505)

I live a few tens of kilometres from the site of the flight -- Pearse is something of a local celebrity/historical figure, some (funny) pictures [travelcentre.com.au] including an impression of the original plane.

A replica of his plane is on display in our local museum, sadly it's not online but it's mentioned at the bottom of this article [richardpearse.com] , with the original at the Museum of Transport in Auckland (NZ's largest city, at the top of the North Island, we're in the middle of the South Island's east coast).

As the article states it's hard to verify his accomplishments, and for that reason I believe that the Wright brothers will hold their record for a while unless any stunning new evidence arises. Still, good on Pearse, one of aviation's original hackers :).

Not Bridgeport? (2)

ctar (211926) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897513)

I thought that this guy [deepsky.com] , Gustave Whitehead, made a test run 2 years before the Wright Brothers, in Bridgeport, Connecticut [sacredheart.edu] (where I was born)...

hah, conspiracy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897515)

I recall that when a similar topic came up in regards to a Weisskopf who supposedly made flights before the Wright brothers that the Smithsonian who now owns the Wright plane signed a contract that they would never aknowledge any other person having made a flight prior to the Wright bothers, whatever evidence might turn up at some point.

-t

To the contrary! (1)

asdfx (446164) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897524)

I can assure you it was not the New Zealander nor the silly Americans. It is well known [eaudrey.com] that man was able to fly thousands of years ago.

Re:To the contrary! (2)

GMontag451 (230904) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897601)

I think you mean Daedalus and Icarus. Pegasus isn't really a man.

Much more details... (1)

houseofmore (313324) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897534)

Here! [itgo.com]

Wright's patent (2)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897551)

Does this mean the Wright brothers' patent may have been invalid? Their aggressive efforts to enforce their patent is said to have seriously delayed development of aviation by others up to WWI. As I understand it the government had to step in to force them to license the patent at reasonable royalties in WWI, and this marked the true beginning of modern aviation.

I'm A New Zealander... (4, Informative)

Shturmovik (632314) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897560)

...but I don't let childish nationalistic, patriotic gibberish blind me: Richard Pearce did not achieve powered flight before the Wright brothers. As many others have pointed out, he flew a glider into a ravine, and not even very well -- he crashed.

Wright brothers my ass! (4, Informative)

dark-br (473115) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897564)

Alberto Santos Dumont was born July 20, 1873, in the village of Cabangu, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil. At the age of 18, Santos Dumont was sent by his father to Paris where he devoted his time to the study of chemistry, physics, astronomy and mechanics. His first spherical balloon, "Brasil," ordered from Maison LaChambre, with the capacity of 113 cubic meters, capable of lifting a ballast of 114.4 lbs, and having in its lower part a wicker basket, made its first ascension in Paris on July 4th, 1898. His second balloon, "America," had 500 cubic meters of capacity and gave Santos Dumont the Aero Club of Paris' award to study the atmospheric currents. Twelve balloons had participated in this competition but "America" reached a greater altitude and remained in the air for 22 hours.

Putting aside the aerostation, he began to devote himself towards solving the problem of steering the balloons. His first steered balloon, "Santos Dumont no. 1," ascended on September 18th 1898. Balloons "Santos Dumont no. 2," which wasn't successful, and "Santos Dumont no. 3," built at the Vaugurand workshop, followed. "Santos Dumont no. 3" ascended on November 13th, 1890. It circled a few times the Eiffel Tower, headed to the Park and from there finally headed towards the Bagatelle field where it landed flawlessly.

In view of the success of no. 3 balloon, the Aero Club of France was founded and Mr. Deutsch de La Meurt instituted the "Deutsch Prize" to be awarded to the balloonist who, taking off from Saint-Cloud, circumnavigated the Eiffel Tower and returned to the starting point in less than thirty minutes. This prize was conquered by Santos Dumont on October 19th, 1901, with dirigible no. 6. Besides this prize, Santos Dumont received the sum of 100,000 francs which he distributed in equal parts to his workers and the beggars of Paris.

Dirigibles nos. 7, 8, and 9 followed. With the latter, on July 4th, 1903, Santos Dumont maneuvered over Longchamps, where a military parade was being held in commemoration of Bastille capture.

Once he solved the problem of steering the lighter-than-air vehicle, Santos Dumont devoted himself to the heavier-than-air problem. Aboard the 14-BIS he made his first unsuccessfull attempt in July, 1906. On September 7th, the 14-BIS wheels left the ground for a moment; on the 13th it could reach the height of one meter; on October 23rd, the airplane flew 50 meters. It was on November 12th, 1906 that Santos Dumont's airplane, the 14-BIS, flew a distance of 220 meters at the height of 6 meters and at the speed of 37,358 km/h. Thanks to this flight the "Archdecon Prize" was awarded to Santos Dumont, who had thus, solved the problem of making a heavier-than-air machine take off by its own means.

Santos Dumont died on July 23rd, 1932, in Brazil. According to the law no. 165 of December 5th, 1947, enacted by the National Congress of Brazil and sanctioned by His Excellency President Eurico Gaspar Dutra, Alberto Santos Dumont was permanently listed in the Brazilian Air Ministry Almanac with the rank of Lieutenant Brigadier. He was promoted to the Honorary rank of Air Marshall on September 22, 1955, according to the law no. 3636, and is permanently listed in the Brazilian Air Ministry Almanac.

worldwide fact, though the US still doesn't know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897566)

i think that USA is the only country whose textbooks still report (erroneously) that Wright Bros. were the first to achieve heavier-than-air manned flight. In Brazil, the truth has been known since the event itself. I think USA is ignorant about many things.

George Cayley (2)

Martin S. (98249) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897569)

The first manned flight was performed by George Cayley [wikipedia.org] in 1799, nearly a hundred years before [flight100.org] the Wright Brothers where even born.

Cayley are also discovered the theory of flight [demon.co.uk]

Re:George Cayley (1)

houseofmore (313324) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897629)

The title of the article is "Was New Zealander first in flying machine?". Flapping your hands like a bird doesn't make you a machine.

Well hey... give it a try.

Scientific Flight (2, Informative)

toxic666 (529648) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897573)

Maybe someone "flew" before the Wright Brothers, but they never recorded their results, much less reproduced them.

Not only did the Wright's reproduce their results, they modeled their experiments in wind tunnels and engineered their aircraft. Thus, they had data about the lift, weight and propulsion they planned to test.

With that data and their experiments, they improved upon their results. In the process, they formed a company that had a viable -- if ultimately unsucessful -- business model. Their business failure was only an inability to adapt to businesses that were more adept at improving upon their proven technology. These businesses were global in aspect; Curtis, Bleriot's monoplane Fokker, etc.

This debate has been covered for many years; by the standard of controlled, reproducable results, the Wrights were the first. We went through much of the same debate during the 75th anniversary, but those who forget history are condemned to relive it.

Brazil did it better... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897581)

[http://educate.si.edu/scitech/impacto/Text2/aviat ion/alberto.html]

Highlights in Aviation:
Alberto Santos-Dumont, Brazil

Alberto Santos Dumont was born July 20, 1873, in the village of Cabangu, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil. At the age of 18, Santos Dumont was sent by his father to Paris where he devoted his time to the study of chemistry, physics, astronomy and mechanics. His first spherical balloon, "Brasil," ordered from Maison LaChambre, with the capacity of 113 cubic meters, capable of lifting a ballast of 114.4 lbs, and having in its lower part a wicker basket, made its first ascension in Paris on July 4th, 1898. His second balloon, "America," had 500 cubic meters of capacity and gave Santos Dumont the Aero Club of Paris' award to study the atmospheric currents. Twelve balloons had participated in this competition but "America" reached a greater altitude and remained in the air for 22 hours.

Putting aside the aerostation, he began to devote himself towards solving the problem of steering the balloons. His first steered balloon, "Santos Dumont no. 1," ascended on September 18th 1898. Balloons "Santos Dumont no. 2," which wasn't successful, and "Santos Dumont no. 3," built at the Vaugurand workshop, followed. "Santos Dumont no. 3" ascended on November 13th, 1890. It circled a few times the Eiffel Tower, headed to the Park and from there finally headed towards the Bagatelle field where it landed flawlessly.

In view of the success of no. 3 balloon, the Aero Club of France was founded and Mr. Deutsch de La Meurt instituted the "Deutsch Prize" to be awarded to the balloonist who, taking off from Saint-Cloud, circumnavigated the Eiffel Tower and returned to the starting point in less than thirty minutes. This prize was conquered by Santos Dumont on October 19th, 1901, with dirigible no. 6. Besides this prize, Santos Dumont received the sum of 100,000 francs which he distributed in equal parts to his workers and the beggars of Paris.

Dirigibles nos. 7, 8, and 9 followed. With the latter, on July 4th, 1903, Santos Dumont maneuvered over Longchamps, where a military parade was being held in commemoration of Bastille capture.

Once he solved the problem of steering the lighter-than-air vehicle, Santos Dumont devoted himself to the heavier-than-air problem. Aboard the 14-BIS he made his first unsuccessfull attempt in July, 1906. On September 7th, the 14-BIS wheels left the ground for a moment; on the 13th it could reach the height of one meter; on October 23rd, the airplane flew 50 meters. It was on November 12th, 1906 that Santos Dumont's airplane, the 14-BIS, flew a distance of 220 meters at the height of 6 meters and at the speed of 37,358 km/h. Thanks to this flight the "Archdecon Prize" was awarded to Santos Dumont, who had thus, solved the problem of making a heavier-than-air machine take off by its own means.

Santos Dumont died on July 23rd, 1932, in Brazil. According to the law no. 165 of December 5th, 1947, enacted by the National Congress of Brazil and sanctioned by His Excellency President Eurico Gaspar Dutra, Alberto Santos Dumont was permanently listed in the Brazilian Air Ministry Almanac with the rank of Lieutenant Brigadier. He was promoted to the Honorary rank of Air Marshall on September 22, 1955, according to the law no. 3636, and is permanently listed in the Brazilian Air Ministry Almanac.

Photos, records, a journal.... Anything!? (3, Funny)

Mulletproof (513805) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897584)

"There's nothing but a handful of informally collected eyewitness accounts to confirm Pearse's first flight"

"And I swear officer, I saw a dozen lights flying through the sky and one landed near me! This little grey man with huge eyes stepped out...."
Too bad every last one of the records of this alien abd-- er, historic flight were lost or destroyed.

Wrights Get the Credit (3, Interesting)

blitz487 (606553) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897612)

For the first manned, powered and controlled flight. Pearson's "flight", if indeed he did fly, was obviously uncontrolled. Even if his flight was controlled, it's irrelevant because he failed to document it and all corroboration has, of course, vanished.

The Wrights developed the very first theory of propellors, and theirs was 70% efficient. Quite remarkable. The Wrights built their own engine from scratch, did not employ skilled engineers for their first airplane, and devised the first wind tunnel to test airfoil sections. The Wrights did make a survey of all available information on building airplanes, and found what little existed to be totally wrong (such as Lilienthal's data). They did what was likely the first modern R&D program (building successive prototypes, each building on the results from the previous, all targetted at powered flight). The Wrights did it all from scratch.

So what... (2)

irn_bru (209849) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897615)

We all know the Vikings discovered New Zealand hundreds of years before these so called 'New Zealanders'

Yay... Not a Brit ! (2)

joss (1346) | more than 11 years ago | (#4897624)

God what a relief, almost every time there is some claim about someone inventing something or other first, light bulb, public key cryptography, whatever.. we get claims that a Brit invented it first. As a Brit I find this intensely irritating. Who gives a flying fuck ? We all know America is Number 1 when it comes to self promoting propoganda. This is far more useful in the long run than inventing miscellaneous bits of modern technology. The British used to be pretty good at this too, but we lost it. When people [especially ourselves] stopped believing our propoganda, the empire evaporated immediately. Please stop rubbing our noses in it with these "XXX really invented by YYYY" stories. This time it's a New Zealander... phew [although I'm sure there was some Argentinian who flew before Wright brothers mentioned a few years back].

Second in Flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4897625)

Could this be North Carolina's next license plate slogan?
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