In 1896 Augustus Moore Herring applied for what was possibly the earliest patent of its type in the country, a United States Patent for a man-supporting, heavier-than-air, motorized, controllable, “flying machine”.
Financed by Matthias Arnot of Elmira, New York, Herring developed his flying machine while living in St. Joseph, Michigan.
On October 11, 1899, Herring successfully flew his craft along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan at Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. According to Herring, this historic flight carried him approximately 50 feet.
Eleven days later, October 22, he managed an “eight to ten seconds”, 73-foot flight, as was witnessed by a newspaper reporter:
“During the flight, which lasted eight to ten seconds, Herring’s feet seemed to … almost graze the ground, which the machine skimmed along on a level path above the beach. The landing was characterized by a slight turning to the left and slowing of the engine when the machine came gently to rest on the sand.”
Herring’s craft was a biplane glider of his own design with a compressed air engine.
So, why is it that the nation celebrates the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers and not Augustus Herring whose motorized flight preceded the Wright Brothers by four years?
For the full article, visit America’s First Airplance Flight
For another see Roger Rosentreter, “First in Flight?”, Seeking Michigan, August 6, 2013.
Note : Picture of Herring with glider in 1894.