Lesson 2 on Aeronautical Engineering: HISTORY (November 2 and 5)

Please read the ALL of the background information below, before beginning this Assignment. Then begin the Assignment contained in the Blue box. Read all of the instructions first, before proceeding.

Work on the assignment INDIVIDUALLY (do not collaborate with other students). There is a collaborative element later in our study of Aeronautical Engineering, but NOT today.

Objectives: (1) To introduce students to the history of aviation and aeronautical engineering; (2) To practice note taking (3) To improve research skills–seeking appropriate sources for citation; (4) To improve verbal presentation skills, in order to clearly express ideas.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

From ancient times, people saw birds flying and imagined human flight. 1

According to Greek mythology, Daedalus, was an engineer in the court of King Minos at Crete.2 Daedalus fell out of favor with the king, and decided to escape with his son, Icarus. Crete was a port city, and they couldn’t escape by sea, since King Mino controlled the ships. So, instead Daedalus made wings from wax and feathers, so they could escape to Sicily by flying away.

Daedalus warned his son, Icarus, not to fly too close to the sea or the moisture would make the feathers too heavy and he would crash. Nor should he fly too high or the sun’s heat would melt the wax in the wings. Unfortunately, Icarus became intoxicated with the thrill of flight, and kept flying higher, disregarding his father’s advice. According to the legend, Icarus continued to fly higher and higher. Ultimately he flew too close to the sun. The heat melted the wax, and the wings fell apart. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.

Other ancient people also imagined flight in imitation of birds–that is, with flapping wings. Inventions along these lines always failed, since human arms are not like a bird’s wings and can not move with the strength of a bird.

Around 400 BC the Chinese invented kites, which they used in their religious ceremonies. They used colorful kites for fun, also. They invented more sophisticated kites to test weather conditions. Kites were important to the invention of human flight as they were an inspiration for balloons and gliders.

Leonardo da Vinci’s ornithopter design

Leonardo da Vinci made the first real studies of flight in the 1480’s. He had over 100 drawings that illustrated his theories on flight.  In 1485, da Vinci imagined the “Ornithopter flying machine.” It was never actually built. It was a design that Leonardo da Vinci created to show how man could fly. The modern day helicopter is based on this concept.

 

Frost's 1902 ornithopter
Frost’s 1902 ornithopter

The Frost ornithopter, created in 1904 by Edward Purkis Frost, was designed to copy a crow’s wings.3   Frost used both real and imitation feathers in his machine. The contraption was powered by an internal combustion engine in an attempt to get the machine off the ground. The machine never achieve it’s desired result. Frost avidly studied flight and designed a number of ornithopters between 1868 and his death in 1922.

 

George Cayley contributed significantly to the field of human flight from about 1799 through the 1850’s through his work on many versions of gliders that used the movements of the human pilot to exercise control. A young boy, whose name is now unknown, was the first to fly one of his gliders.

Cayley improved his gliders over a period of about 50 years. For example, he changed the shape of the wings to control air would flow. He designed a tail for the gliders for stability. He used a biplane design for added strength. Cayley recognized that prolonged flight could only be possible with an on-board power source.

Cayley wrote On Ariel Navigation which shows a fixed-wing aircraft with on-board power and a tail.

The first un-manned hot-air balloon, designed by the Montgolfier brothers, takes off from Versailles, on September 19, 1783.
The first un-manned hot-air balloon, designed by the Montgolfier brothers, takes off from Versailles, on September 19, 1783.

The brothers, Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier, were inventors of the first hot air balloon to carry a human. Their invention used the smoke from a fire to blow hot air into a silk bag. The hot air was lighter than air. Balloon, basket, passengers, and hot air were all lighter than the surrounding atmosphere. In 1783, the first passengers in their colorful balloon were a sheep, rooster and duck. The balloon rose to a height of about 6,000 feet and traveled more than 1 mile.

Later, the brothers sent humans aloft in hot air balloons. The first human occupied flight was on November 21, 1783.  The passengers were Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent.

Otto Lilienthal tests a glider

Otto Lilienthal4 was a German born in 1848. He was an engineer who experimented, wrote and lectured about the basic theories of human flight. In 1889 he published “Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation” (English translation 1911). In 1893 he built several flying machines, among them a “flapping wing machine driven by a motor.”

Some call Otto Lilienthal the first successful aviator in the history. He pioneered fundamental research on birds and airfoils.  He founded the science of wing aerodynamics. He established much of the foundation for concepts we still employ today. His research and his successful flights between 1891 and 1896 inspired the Wright brothers. Lilienthal’s method of flying is very similar to the hang gliding sport of today.

Otto Lilienthal was killed during an experimental flight of one of his gliders in 1896.

Paintings Of The Langley Aerodrome No. 6 – 1897

Samuel P. Langley 5 was almost successful in inventing the airplane before the Wright brothers. Langley had studied at the Naval Academy, the Western University of Pennsylvania, and the Allegheny Observatory. He worked in the fields of timekeeping and astronomy. He also became interested in the field of aerodynamics and read the works of George Cayley, among others. In the late 1800’s, Langley began his experiments in aerodynamics. He eventually developed his “aerodrome” or flying machine. He built a model of a plane, which he called an aerodrome, that included a steam-powered engine. In 1891, his model flew for ¾ mile before running out of fuel. Although Langley worked on wind, body design, and engines, he remained well short of a human controlled flying machine that could be stabilized, steered, and otherwise controlled in the air.

First airplane flight, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; December 17, 1903, Photo first published in 1908

On December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Flyer, built by Wilbur and Orville Wright, became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard.6 Their methods were very deliberate. They tested their ideas by twisting wings in flight. They learned much about flight by working with kites. They learned how wind affected the surfaces when aloft. Later they tested gliders, much like George Cayley had done. They spent three years experimenting with gliders at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Wright brothers used a wind tunnel to test the shapes of wings and tails. They also spent time studying an appropriate power source for their airplane. They decided to use an early internal combustion engine that produced about 12 horsepower.

The first heavier-than-air flight traveled 120 feet in twelve seconds. The two brothers took turns flying that day. The fourth and final flight covered 850 feet in 59 seconds. Their Flyer was unstable and very hard to control.

The brothers returned home to Dayton, Ohio. They worked for two more years perfecting their design. On October 5, 1905, Wilbur Wright flew the Flyer III for 39 minutes and about 24 miles of circles around Huffman Prairie.

ASSIGNMENT:

You are assigned one of the following topics, based on the FIRST LETTER of your LAST name.  See the assignments below.  It is important you do the topic to which you are assigned, since the next lesson depends on you doing the correct research No credit will be given if you do the wrong assignment, so please see the teacher if you have any question about your assignment.

If the FIRST LETTER of your LAST name is A through B, then your topic is “Leonardo da Vinci’s” contributions to the fields of flight, aerodynamics and/or aeronautical engineering (see General Instructions below).

If the FIRST LETTER of your LAST name is C through E, then your topic is “Edward Purkis Frost‘s” contributions to the fields of flight, aerodynamics and/or aeronautical engineering (see General Instructions below).

If the FIRST LETTER of your LAST name is F through I, then your topic is “George Cayley‘s” contributions to the fields of flight, aerodynamics and/or aeronautical engineering (see General Instructions below).

If the FIRST LETTER of your LAST name is J through L, then your topic is “Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier‘s” contributions to the fields of flight, aerodynamics and/or aeronautical engineering (see General Instructions below).

If the FIRST LETTER of your LAST name is M through R, then your topic is “Otto Lilienthal‘s” contributions to the fields of flight, aerodynamics and/or aeronautical engineering (see General Instructions below).

If the FIRST LETTER of your LAST name is S through U, then your topic is “Samuel P. Langley‘s” contributions to the fields of flight, aerodynamics and/or aeronautical engineering (see General Instructions below).

If the FIRST LETTER of your LAST name is V through Z, then your topic is “Wilbur and Orville Wright‘s” contributions to the fields of flight, aerodynamics and/or aeronautical engineering (see General Instructions below).


General Instructions:

  1. This section of the assignment is to be performed individually, NOT in collaboration with others.  Giving or receiving help to/from others in this section of the assignment is considered cheating and may result in a “zero” score.
  2. Research the subject of your research, as listed above.  Take notes.  You do not have to write a paper or essay.  Just take complete notes on your research.
  3. Your research should concentrate on the following areas:
    • WHO is the subject of your topic.  Provide a short biography, with relevant background on such things as education, training, occupation, etc.?
    • WHEN and WHERE your subject lived, and how this influenced or affected their work in the fields of flight, aerodynamics and/or aeronautical engineering?
    • Specifically, HOW did their work influence or affect the fields of flight, aerodynamics and/or aeronautical engineering?   WHAT was the contribution to these fields?
    • What is the legacy/consequences of the life and works of the subject(s) of your topic?
  4. Please show your work to the teacher at least 15 minutes before the end of class to receive full credit.  If the teacher does not check off your research today, you can’t get credit for your work today.
    • Your research notes should be a minimum of one page, normal sized hand printing, with each line of the page used.
    • List all of your research sources on another page (or back of the note page).  These sources aren’t included in your one page minimum for your notes.  You must have a minimum of three acceptable sources–academic, museum, etc.  Wikipedia, and social media are not acceptable sources.
  5. You will keep your notes from today.  You will need them for next class.
  6. IMPORTANT:  Bring your notes with you to this class, next time.  You will need them to make a short (5 minute) verbal presentation on your research to the teacher and a small group of students (not the whole class).  If you don’t have your notes next class, you can’t give your presentation, and you can’t receive a passing score.

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FOOTNOTES:

 

  1.   See NASA website, History of Flight (https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/UEET/StudentSite/historyofflight.html)
  2.   Ancient History Encyclopedia, Daedalus (https://www.ancient.eu/Daedalus/); Encyclopædia Britannica, Daedalus (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Daedalus-Greek-mythology)
  3.   Science Museum website, Wonderful things: Frost ornithopter (https://blog.sciencemuseum.org.uk/wonderful-things-frost-ornithopter/)
  4.   Otto Lilienthal Museum website, (http://www.lilienthal-museum.de/olma/eotto.htm)
  5.  Smithsonian Libraries, Samuel P. Langley: Aviation Pioneer (http://www.sil.si.edu/ondisplay/langley/intro.htm)
  6.    National Air and Space Museum, The Wright Brothers: The Invention of the Aerial Age (https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/wright-brothers/online)