109 years ago, May 22, 1906: Patent to Wright Bros. for “flying machine”

May 22, 2015

In a drawer in a file box in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., is a study in black ink on white paper, lines that resemble those images most of us have of the first Wright Bros. flyer, usually dubbed “Kittyhawk” after the place it first took to the air.

Drawing 1 from patent granted to Orville Wright for a flying machine

Drawing 1 from patent granted to Orville Wright for a flying machine

The patent was issued on May 22, 1906, to Orville Wright, Patent No. 821393, for a “flying machine.”

It makes more sense if you turn the drawing on its side.

Wright Bros. flying machine, from patent drawing

Wright Bros. flying machine, from patent drawing

With the patent, the Wrights had legal means to protect their idea so they could commercially develop it.  Turns out, however, that the fight to get the patent, and subsequent fights to protect it, may have prevented them from fully realizing the commercial success they could have had.  Lawrence Goldstone, the author of that article, details the history at much greater length in his 2014 book, Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies. 

Why did it take three years to get the patent issued?

Below the fold, the rest of the patent.

Read the rest of this entry »


Geography quiz: Which Midwest city is this?

August 9, 2010

Quick quiz:  Can you identify this Midwest American city?

Mystery Midwest city from the air

Can you identify the city shown in this photo? Photo by James Darrell, flying to DFW from ATL. (Click for larger view)

Can you identify this Midwest city?  The photo was taken about an hour outside of DFW International, flying in from Atlanta Hartsfield.  North in on the right side of the photo.  My quick guess was Oklahoma City, but that was when I thought the departure city was Milwaukee (it could still be OKC).

Can you shed some light, and tell why you think it’s that city?

Night flying is cool.  While I enjoy flying any time, I really enjoy the views from an airplane at night.

Somewhere in the trunk of film-that-may-one-day-be-digitized, I have several photos of smaller cities along the Wasatch Front in Utah, taken during campaigns and business trips in the 1970s and 1980s.  At one time I had a list of the cities in the shots, but that list is long gone.  I wonder whether I could identify those cities today?

Historically, it would be interesting, since most of those small towns now are sizable suburb cities.

Chicago lays out in an orange grid of glowing citrine gemstones at night.  New York City dazzles from 2,000 feet, looking better than any movie you’ve ever seen, and glowing.  Dallas presents a colored outline against the black sky when you come in for a landing (or Fort Worth, with more white lights, if you’re on the west side of the aircraft coming in).  Salt Lake City sparkles and spreads up the mountains and canyons.  St. Louis is neat rows of lighted pathways broken by the snaking Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.  Washington, D.C. is a Shining City on a Hill spectacular when the weather is clear, coming down the Potomac River to National (now Reagan).

Which city is this one, above?

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Chuck Yeager in Dallas

July 31, 2010

Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, C. R. Smith Museum, Ft. Worth Texas,  July 25, 2010

Can you tell at what angle his airplane was, at this moment of the story? Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, C. R. Smith Museum, Ft. Worth Texas, July 25, 2010 - (photo by Ed Darrell - use permitted with attribution)

Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager accepted a donation of an old footlocker related to an old friend for the American Airlines C. R. Smith Museum, on Sunday, July 25, 2010, at the Museum in Fort Worth.  He spoke for nearly two hours, showing a film biography, and taking questions from the audience of nearly 300, including about 80 other pilots.

Do we need to introduce Yeager? He’s recognized as the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight, a veteran of flying in U.S. wars from World War II to Vietnam, and one of the most storied and respected test pilots ever, flying for low pay for the Air Force.  His exploits open the story of the Mercury Astronauts in Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, and the movie that followed.

I’ve heard him speak briefly before, but this was a great treat.  I’m sure he can be caught sometime without a smile, but not on this day.  Yeager spoke about his great love, flying.   He minced no words — you won’t find an unedited video of this speech, I’ll wager.

Enthusiasm for a topic goes a long way to make a great speaker.  Yeager has enthusiasm.

In our family, we’ve always enjoyed laughing about our fighter pilot, Wes.  When he drove the delivery truck for my father’s furniture and appliance store, he’d vocalize the way he wished the engine sounded in a five-speed racer, and not the three-speed manual, six-cylinder 1955 GMC he was driving.  It was charming way back then, in the GMC.

We suspected he did the same thing when he was flying jets.  His co-pilots would never deny it.

I think all great pilots do little things they are not aware of when they really enjoy the flying, or the story about the flying.

See Gen. Yeager’s left hand in the photo above?  He’s talking about flying.  From his hand, you can tell the attitude of the airplane at that point of the story.

And in the photo below?  I think that’s the one where he’s explaining a dog fight.

See the story in his hands?

Yeager, explaining a dogfight - photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Chuck Yeager explains a dogfight to a DFW audience - photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution


May 22, 1906: Patent to Wright Bros. for “flying machine”

May 23, 2009

In a drawer in a file box in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., is a study in black ink on white paper, lines that resemble those images most of us have of the first Wright Bros. flyer, usually dubbed “Kittyhawk” after the place it first took to the air.

Drawing 1 from patent granted to Orville Wright for a flying machine

Drawing 1 from patent granted to Orville Wright for a flying machine

The patent was issued on May 22, 1906, to Orville Wright, Patent No. 821393, for a “flying machine.”

It makes more sense if you turn the drawing on its side.

Wright Bros. flying machine, from patent drawing

Wright Bros. flying machine, from patent drawing

Why did it take three years to get the patent issued?

Below the fold, the rest of the patent.

Read the rest of this entry »


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