Chronicle Aviation > Origins


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< 1970 - 1990
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Before even flying, the first problem which arose for the man eager to imitate the birds was that to leave the ground. The legend yields little by little the place to the history and, after the holy books of all the religions, of which some are true "birdcages", the texts of the chroniclers bring some precision on the "clever mechanisms" able to make steal the man. Aristote and Galien are concentrated on the problem, Aulu-Gelle describes the famous dove of Archytas and the poets celebrate unhappy Icare, while the mathematicians are interested more in his father, the Dédale inventor. Hung to geese, condemned to death are precipitated top of cliffs; others, wings on the back, spring raised points, turns and hills, make some beats and fall or land a little further and a little low than their starting point. Many leaves their life there. The history retains sometimes their name. About 1500, Léonard de Vinci, the first, studies the problem scientifically. Pages and pages of writing, more than four hundred drawings attest it: the Florentin had a presentiment of the helicopter, the parachute. One even says that it would have tested a full-scale sailplane. In XVIe century, the Bate English introduces in Europe the fashion of the kite, borrowed from the former Chinese. Guidotti, Burattini, Allard are the heroes of unhappy attempts. In 1673, one announces a metal worker of Mans, Besnier, which with surfaces with valves would have succeeded in flying. In 1742, the marquis de Bacqueville would have traversed some three hundred meters above the Seine, in Paris. In 1783, the discovery of the airship by the Montgolfier brothers causes a passion such for the "spheres" that research on the apparatuses heavier than the air will be suspended and will take a certain delay. Blanchard, Resnier de Goué, Degen, Berlinger (two French, Switzerland, a German) will propose some solutions well and will try even some experiments in flight, but it will be necessary to await the end of the XVIIIe century to find that which the English called "the inventor of the airplane", to sir George Cayley. In 1796, resuming work of the French Launoy and Bienvenu, it builds a helicopter. In 1799, it engraves on a money disc the representation of the aerodynamic loads on a profile of wing. In 1808, it draws a "ornithoptère" on the scale of the man. In 1809, it builds a sailplane which flies (without passenger). In 1843, it draws the first model of "convertiplane" and, in 1849, built a sailplane which would have been tested with a passenger. About the same time, two other English, Henson and Stringfellow, were well close finding the solution. If the Ariel, of which we have very many engravings published at the time, were never built, it does not remain about it less than Stringfellow, continuing work of Cayley and Henson, made steal for the first time in the history a small-scale model of airplane to vapor. It is in 1856, with the French Jean-Marie Breaking, that the first tests of sailplane with passenger take place, and they is still with him, in 1868, that the first photography of "the heavier will be taken than the air", full-scale. In 1863, one will have noted the invention of the word "aviation" by Gabriel of Landelle, the launching of the countryside of the "holy propeller" by Nadar and construction, by Ponton of Amécourt, of a helicopter to vapor, first application of aluminium to heaviest than the air. Since Cayley, the attention of the researchers was drawn to the importance of the aerodynamic data. A decisive step will be taken in this field by another English, Wenham, which will build the first "tunnel" (one will say "blower thereafter") for the experimentation of the models. The concept of test systematic appears, replacing the gropings soon. In France, Pénaud and Gauchot propose in 1876 an airplane with retractable train, propellers with variable step, balanced control surfaces and orders single for the depth and the direction. In addition, about 1874, the Felix French of the Temple manages to launch his airplane to vapor along an inclined plan, with a young sailor on board. But so that there is takeoff, one needs neither tilted plan nor additional means (catapults, counterweight), and, so that there is flight, it is necessary: supported trajectory, dirigibility, finally landing on a level at least equal to that of the starting point.

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