Before The Wright Brothers: French "Batwing" Plane

The Wright brothers were the first people to fly, right? Well, according to this excellent article at our pal mental_floss, that may not be quite true. For example:

French inventor Clément Ader distinguished himself as the first to develop stereo sound, among his many engineering innovations. He was the first to achieve self-propelled flight, with an batwing aircraft powered by a steam engine. His first flight was around 50 meters, on October 9, 1890, a full 13 years before the Wright Brothers! He then designed a better flying machine that reportedly flew 200 yards in 1892. A public demonstration in 1897 apparently ended badly, and Ader lost his Department of War funding.


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Well in time Richard Pearce might get recognition . I have just seen screened on TV an old film that was just discovered that shows Richard Pearce taking of and crashing (its seems he swerved ) to miss the camera man . There is also some one with a newspaper in his back pocket in the film . They digital enlarged the news paper , I cant record the exact date , but it was a march newspaper 1903 . The film has been sent to the Smithsonian for verification .
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A lot of the examples on the mental_floss page refer to devices that took off from a ramp or hill of some sort, which is why they are disqualified as "flight." Basically, like gliders.

Also, in response to some of the potential other flights people have listed, I think the Wright Brothers were very lucky to have a small crowd watching them, as well as a photographer.

As a Daytonian I felt the need to share all this. =)
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I must stand up for Richard Pearse, a New Zealander who achieved powered flight nine months before the Wright Brothers.
There is a good article about him at Wikipedia ((
It's a shame he's not more recognised as his thinking about aeroplane engineering and design was years ahead of his contemporaries (ailerons instead of wing-warping, forward mounted 'tractor' propeller, monoplane design with rear mounted stabiliser and elevator, the list goes on)
The only thing Pearse seems to have lacked is the showman's ability to sell himself...
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