The Roosterplane

The history of flight was a bumpy one. People were making gliders for ages, before the Wright Brothers strapped an engine on and made it really work. But before then, there were a number of abortive attempts at avian-style aviation. But it turns out flapping your wings doesn’t actually help much, compared to just going really fast.

Despite twenty-five years of accumulated engineering and avionics knowledge on that point, in 1930 the patent for the rooster airplane was filed:

It's a big rooster airplane with a propeller on its beak. There appear to be three operators sitting in holes on its top surface.
USP 1,810,182, FIG. 1

The patent devotes most of its attention to how the wings should operate, because they are definitely designed to flap. The inventor says, “The propeller 12 is depended upon to accomplish most of the flying of the device and the wings assist in the flying and also to simulate a flying rooster.” USP 1,810,182, p. 2, lns 48-51. Little thought appears to be given to how the wings are supposed to maintain an appropriate angle to provide lift as they flap up and down.

Incidentally, I highly recommend you check out the Wright Brothers Memorial sometime. An annual pass is only $35, giving you and three other adults unlimited access for a whole year. Just one solid solar year of non-stop Wright memorializing! You really won’t find a better deal than that.

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