National Geographic : 1953 Dec
Langley's Aerodrome g Proves the Possibility of Mechanical Flight Of all the scientists who sought to un ravel the mysteries of flight, none saw success more cruelly withheld than Dr. Samuel P. Langley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1887 to 1906. After extensive experiments in aerody namics, Langley in 1896 designed this 15 4 -foot-long, steam-powered model "aerodrome" and launched it without a pilot above the Potomac River. Alex ander Graham Bell, who watched it circle majestically for % of a mile and alight gracefully, wrote: "Anyone who saw it ... must have felt that the age of the flying machine was at hand." But bad luck dogged Langley's every attempt to launch a man-carrying aero drome. Nine days before the epochal Wright flight in 1903, the scientist re luctantly gave up his experiments in the face of savage ridicule. Broken-hearted, he died in 1906. Langley's work, however, gave signifi cant encouragement to such pioneers as the Wrights, Bell, McCurdy, and Curtiss (pages 744, 745, 746). Alexander Graham Bell ' October, 1903: The full-scale aero drome plunges from Dr. Langley's Po tomac houseboat after catching in the launching mechanism. Another attempt two months later met a similar fate. In 1914, after important modifications, Langley's craft did fly, with Curtiss at the controls.