National Geographic : 1983 Dec
Max Stupar and Dr. August Raspet. Stupar was a pioneer builder of improved Demoiselles used in early American exhibition flights. Dr. Raspet was a foremost researcher and designer of sail planes and lightweight motor-driven planes and inventor of the flying bicycle. E d Edward Gobetz Kent, Ohio I don't want to diminish the feats of the Wright brothers, but the first man to fly a powered heavier-than-air craft was the Frenchman Cle ment Ader on October 9, 1890. Eyewitnesses ob served a bat-shaped aircraft called Eole making a leap of about 50 meters. Jean Cavaro Saint-Medard-en-Jalles, France FrenchandEnglish aeronauticalhistorianshave concluded that Ader made a short, uncontrolled hop but never a sustainedflight underpower. The honorremains with the Wrights. Luis Marden calls the airplane a "killing ma chine" and "too fast, complicated, and expensive for any but the rich or subsidized." The use of air craft in combat has saved as many lives as it has taken. In World War II aircraft began to serve medical evacuation and also general evacuation purposes. The airplane does not kill, man does. I own two airplanes and half of a third, and I am a long way from being rich. Mr. Marden's well-written article shows the historical signifi cance of the ultralight. He could have repre sented general aviation much more fairly. Scott E. Cooper Ventura, California Mr. Marden erred in calling ultralights bicycles of the air. Ultralights are motorcycles, hang glid ers are bicycles. These parallels hold for noise, pollution, safety, ability, and operator attitude. Steve London Seattle, Washington The article on ultralight aircraft contained un fortunate technical errors. If you compare the ki netic energies of a 1,600-pound aircraft traveling at 55 miles per hour with an ultralight craft weighing 550 pounds traveling at 27 mph, the ra tio of kinetic energies is 12, not 16. One cannot say that the big plane will "impact with 16 [or 12] times the force" because one does not know the details of the crashes. What one can say is that on impact the big plane will have 12 times as much kinetic energy to dissipate as will the light plane. Albert A. Bartlett Boulder, Colorado You are correct. The aeronauticalengineer who did the calculationused the specificationsfor a single-seaterultralightinstead of the two-seater that crashed.