Augustus Moore Herring

Augustus Moore Herring - Picture - None - More Aviation History

Augustus Moore Herring Information

Augustus Moore Herring

Augustus Moore Herring (August 3, 1867 - July 17, 1926) was an American aviation pioneer, who flew a compressed-air powered aircraft in 1898, five years before the Wright Brothers made their own powered flight. It has been claimed that he was the first aviator of a motorized heavier-than-air aircraft.


Herring was born in Covington, Georgia, to William F. Herring, a wealthy cotton broker, and his wife Cloe Perry Conyers. He studied in both Switzerland and Germany, before his family settled in New York in 1884. In 1888, when he was a student at the Stevens Institute of Technology, Herring was already building models of flying machines. By 1893, he had built a full sized glider - which he crashed trying when to leave the ground. He began studying glider expert Otto Lilienthal's work. In 1894, Herring built a Type 11-monoplane glider based on Otto Lilienthal‘s 1893 German patent.

Herring was then hired by Octave Chanute to build the aircraft Herring had drawn plans for. The following year, he assisted Samuel Pierpont Langley in his experiments. Herring soon began experimenting on his own. In 1896, he applied for the earliest patent of its type in the United States: for a man-supporting, heavier-than-air, "flying machine " that was motor powered and controllable, but the patent application was rejected.

On October 11, 1898, Herring boarded an aircraft of his own design and flew 50 feet (15 m) using a compressed air engine at Silver Beach Amusement Park in St. Joseph, Michigan. A longer glide/flight followed 11 days later and was witnessed by local newspaper reporters.

In 1909 Herring joined with Glenn Curtiss to create the Herring-Curtiss Company. The next year, he left Curtiss and joined Starling Burgess in Marblehead, Massachusetts to design and build aeroplanes. He left Burgess after a year, following disagreements with another Burgess partner, Greely S. Curtis. Herring brought suit against Glenn Curtis, claiming he had been cheated out of his property and ideas.

Herring was partially paralyzed by a series of strokes, but did aviation design work for the United States Army during World War I.

He died in 1926 at the age of 59, survived by his wife, the former Lillian Mellen. Ironically, two years later Herring won his suit against Curtis with a sizeable financial award.

Claims as first to fly

Aviation historian Phil Scott in The Shoulders of Giants: A History of Human Flight to 1919 (1995, ISBN 0201627221) wrote that he does not consider Herring a candidate for the first flight claim. Scott says Herring's glider was difficult to steer and his two-cylinder, three-horsepower compressed air engine could operate for only 30 seconds at a time. Scott considers Herring as having simply expanded the traditional hang-gliding by adding an engine.

Herring's defenders point out that hang-glider fliers today steer their aircraft by shifting their body, as Herring did. The Wright brothers' steering mechanism, a "wing warping" technique, was impractical and was abandoned in aviation very early.

More airplanes.

Source: WikiPedia

eXTReMe Tracker