Old Aeroplane or
Airplane History and Pictures
By Larry Brian Radka
Old aeroplanes, now commonly called “old airplanes” in picture and historical form attract much attention on the Internet in this day and age; so I have decided to share freely a little more history and many more pictures with you from my collection and library before I pass on. My “Old Airplane and Other Aircraft Pictures” page is becoming too crowded with images now, and that makes them difficult for me to manage. Therefore, I am starting another Web page here to pickup the overflow. I hope you also enjoy these. Perhaps, this page of airplane photographs containing a short history of early-motorized aviation—primarily before World War II—interspersed between the aeroplane images will become as popular as my others. I will be adding more history and pictures of old airplanes—and flyers as usual—as time permits, so periodically check back to enjoy more:
The Wright Brothers were responsible for opening the Golden Age of Aviation. On December 17th 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made the modern world’s first power-driven airplane flights in a 12 horse-power biplane at kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Above we see a reproduction of a vintage photograph depicting the Wright Flyer, piloted by Orville Wright at the time. It became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard; it flew forward without losing speed and landed at a point as high as that from which it started. The aeroplane took off from a launching rail and flew for 12 seconds and a distance of 37 meters (120 feet). The airplane was flown three more times that day, with Orville and his brother Wilbur alternating as pilot; the longest flight, with Wilbur at the controls, was 260 meters (852 feet) and lasted 59 seconds. Another report states 14 seconds and 58 seconds respectively. In 1905, they flew 38 minutes and covered in one flight a distance of 25 miles without landing.
Above we see a U. S. Air Force photograph of Orville Wright is shown above flying his airplane at Fort Myer, Virginia in September of 1909.
Below we see a Wright plane being ushered into a barn.
This, however, is probably not how the term “barnstorming” originated.
At 3:16 PM he gunned his engine, gave the release signal, rolled down the ramp and was airborne, almost.
The aeroplane plunged downward as soon as it cleared the 83-foot platform runway.
The Curtiss briefly touched the water, throwing up enough spray to damage its propeller and throw spray all over his goggles, and vibrated heavily as it climbed. Ely, a non-swimmer, realized that a quick landing was essential. He touched down on nearby Willoughby Spit after some five minutes in the air. This two and a half mile flight, the first time an airplane had taken off from a warship.
Two months later, on January 18, 1911, Ely landed his Curtiss pusher aeroplane on a platform on the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania anchored in San Francisco Bay, using the the first ever tailhook system.
On October 19, 1911, two days before his 25th birthday, while flying at an exhibition in Macon Georgia, his plane was late pulling out of a dive and crashed. Ely jumped clear of the wrecked aircraft, but his neck was broken, and he died a few minutes later.
Airplanes and their carriers have come a long way since 1911, as we may note from the three photographs of the ships of state below:
Seeing it next to the Arizona Memorial really puts its size into perspective... ENORMOUS! When the Bridge pipes ' Man the Rail' there is a lot of rail to man on this monster: shoulder to shoulder, around 4.5 acres. Her displacement is about 100,000 tons with full complement.
Top speed exceeds 30 knots, powered by two nuclear reactors that can operate for more than 20 years without refueling
1. Expected to operate in the fleet for about 50 years
2. Carries over 80 combat aircraft
3. Three arresting cables can stop a 28-ton aircraft going 150 miles per hour in less than 400 feet
1. Towers 20 stories above the waterline
2. 1092 feet long; nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall
3. Flight deck covers 4.5 acres
4. 4 bronze propellers, each 21 feet across, weighing 66, 200 pounds
5. 2 rudders, each 29 by 22 feet and weighing 50 tons
6. 4 high speed aircraft elevators, each over 4,000 square feet
1. Home to about 6,000 Navy personnel
2. Carries enough food and supplies to operate for 90 days
3. 18,150 meals served daily
4. Distillation plants provide 400,000 gallons of fresh water from seawater daily, enough for 2,000 homes
5. Nearly 30,000 light fixtures and 1,325 miles of cable and wiring 1,400 telephones
6. 14,000 pillowcases and 28,000 sheets
The USS William Jefferson Clinton (CVS1) set sail today from its home port of Vancouver, BC. This boat is the first of its kind in the Navy and is a standing legacy to President Bill Clinton 'for his foresight in military budget cuts' and his conduct while holding the (formerly dignified) office of President.
The ship is constructed nearly entirely from recycled aluminum and is completely solar powered with a top speed of 5 knots. It boasts an arsenal comprised of one (unarmed) F14 Tomcat or one (unarmed) F18 Hornet aircraft which, although they cannot be launched on the 100 foot flight deck, form a very menacing presence.
As a standing order there are no firearms allowed on board. This crew, like the crews aboard the USS Jimmy Carter and USS Barack Obama, is specially trained to avoid conflicts and appease any and all enemies of the United States at all costs. An onboard Type One DNC Universal Translator can send out messages of apology in any language to anyone who may find America offensive. The number of apologies is limitless and though some may seem hollow and disingenuous, the Navy advises all apologies will sound very sincere. In times of conflict, the USS Bill Clinton has orders to seek refuge in Canada.
Details on the USS Barack Obama are as vague as his past, his economic policies, and his credentials to lead; but he thinks he can play golf and has prepared for a moving event. But don't you worry too much since he knows how to spend money and has a green plan, so we can comfortably move on now with some more old aeroplane or airplane pictures and history.
“From September 17th, 1908 to February 9th, 1911—during slightly more than two years of entirely experimental work—there have been thirty-four aeroplane fatalities,” wrote Claude Grahame-White—the winner of the Gordon-Bennett International Aviation Cup in 1910 and happily smoking a cigarette above.
“During this period, appreciably more than a thousand men have learned to fly,” he added in his and Harry Harper's 1911 edition of The Aeroplane, Past, Present, and Future.
“M. Laffont, one of the most expert pilots of the Antioinette monoplane, ascended on December 28th, 1910 to make a trial prior to a long cross-country flight, carrying with him a passenger, the Marquis de Pola. The machine used was a passenger-carrying Antoinette monoplane, which had been well tested beforehand. At the time the flight was made, the wind was rather high, but it was not considered dangerous for an Anotinette, which is, of course, a wonderful machine for wind flying.
“When about 500 feet high, and after having been in the air for some minutes, the monoplane was seen to rock violently, as though struck by an unusually heavy gust. Then it made a dart downwards, and, in the opinion of those who were watching, one of the wings of the machine collapsed.
“The monoplane fell like a stone, being smashed to an unrecognizable mass, while both its occupants were killed.
“One of the theories proposed to account for the disaster was that the wires controlling the wind-warp had jammed in some way, rendering the machine out of control. But the most generally accepted explanation is that one of the wings of the machine gave under the stress of an exceptional heavy wind gust.”
In her airplane; on September 4, 1911, at the Richmond County Fair, Harriet Quimby piloted her Moisant-built monoplane over the heads of the spectators in the first night flight recorded by a woman. She was Wearing her purple satin flying costume and made such a dramatic impression on the public that she became the Dresden China Aviatrix.
Calbraith Rodgers was the first person to make a transcontinental flight, flying from Sheepshead Bay, New York, on September 17, 1911, and arriving at Pasadena, California, on November 5, in 1911.
Here we have Harry Bingham Brown with passenger Isabel Patterson of Vancouver after breaking an American altitude record (5,300 feet). This phototograph was taken at Staten Island, New York, on November 6, 1912.
On the postcard above, we see a noted German flyer, Baroness Schenk, who flew at Hendon in the UK in 1912.
On June 20, 1913, Ensign W. D. Billingsley, while piloting the B-2 at 1,600 feet over water near Annapolis, Maryland, was thrown from the plane and fell to his death. Admiral John Henry Towers, also unseated in the turbulence, was nearly killed in the same accident as he clung to the plane and fell with it into the water, receiving serious injuries. The Clemson-class destroyer USS Billingsley (DD-293) was named in his honor.
Lincoln Beachey was America's most famous and most skilled stunt flier of the pre-World War I era.
He was born in San Francisco, California, on March 3, 1887, and began tinkering with machines by starting his own bicycle shop when he was 13. By the age of 15, he was repairing motorcycles and their engines. He first appeared with balloonist Thomas Baldwin's balloon troupe, and he helped Baldwin build the dirigible California Arrow. He made his first piloted dirigible flight in 1905. He soon went into business for himself and garnered publicity by flying his dirigible around the Washington Monument, down the Mall in Washington, D.C., and landing on the lawn of the White House.
Beachey's stunts came to an abrupt end on March 14, 1915 while performing a stunt at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.
While diving over San Francisco Bay in a new plane built especially for aerobatic flight, the wings of his airplane broke away, and he dove into the bay at full speed. Judging from these pictures, with him clothed in his formal dress, apparently used as a flight suit, he was prepared for being laid out in the coffin that awaited him.
Here is a very clear and detailed Canadian WWI photo of the insides of a large domed flight training facility, the Rigging Instruction Class, No. 4 S. of MA, Toronto,. The focal point is a cross section of a full size WWI biplane cut away to reveal the parts and rigging. A RFC Sergeant Instructor stands by the plane with his hands on the large wooden front propeller. All the rigging, seats, and steering mechanism are exposed for the benefit of the many RFC personal sitting in classroom style close to the plane. They are dressed in the RFC maternity tunics with shoulder tittles, stripes etc. visible on their sleeves and shoulders. The room is also filled with plane components, exposed bodies of planes, propellers, model planes on stands, and hanging from the walls are many photos of different biplanes, all for study and observation. This is a great photo with so much detail and interesting aviation items for training pilots and mechanics.
“The picture [above] was taken in Dayton, PA, Armstrong County, and the Pilot is Harry Buzard, my lovable cousin from Little Hocking, Ohio,” wrote Roberta B. Wilson of Uniontown, PA who sent me this photo. “Harry was born in WV, lived in Parkersburg c.1936 when he married Gerry (Deucher) from Spencer, WV. He worked for Sunray Stove Company, and died in 1973.” Roberta (maiden name Buzard) may be contacted at email@example.com to pass on any more information to her about Harry and his family.
Henry Provencio, who collected photos from yard/garage sales around the Los Angeles area several years ago, sent me some photos of airplanes and pilots, and wanted to know if I could identify the pilots and the aircraft. If anyone has any information on the photos above, which I cropped and stitched, Henry would appreciate it and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. On the picture of the female pilot was written the word “Bee.” I couldn’t help Henry out much, but these pictures look to me like they may have come from an early Los Angeles area air show. . . long before my time!
Above we see a movie scene with Julie Andrews preparing to go for a spin in a 1923 biplane in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
Orville Wright died in Dayton, Ohio on January 30 1948—at the age of 76. In his lifetime, the speed of the airplane had been increased from 0 mph to almost 1,000 mph.
Check back here periodically for more old aeroplane or airplance pictures and history.
This page was last modified on Tuesday, January 19, 2016