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the Wright brothers may have been the first to make a sustained,
controlled flight, they were just two among hundreds of brave men
and women who helped to give the world its wings during the earliest
days of aviation. Their Flyer was but one of many historically
important aircraft. Below are brief descriptions and photos of some
of the most important people and planes, and where available
resources and links where you can find more information. In some
cases, contributors have supplied expanded
histories and biographies. Those are listed at the right and linked below.
Karl Jatho made some short hops in a unique airplane near
Hanover, Germany a few months before the Wright brothers first
powered flights. It was a triplane at first, but after the first few
attempts at flight, Jatho removed one wing to make it a biplane. The
design for the wings of the airplane were inspired by the Zanonia
seed, an Asian vine (a member of the cucumber family) whose seeds make stable glides for long
distances. Unfortunately, these flat surfaces don't produce a great
deal of lift and Jatho's 10 hp Buchet motor could not sustain the
aircraft in flight for more than 200 feet (60 meters). Additionally,
his control was inadequate and Jatho by his own admission was
unhappy with the performance of the machine. He did manage to build
a successful airplane in 1909.
Jatho's aircraft was among the first "flying wings."
The Zanonia seed continued to fascinate aeronautical engineers and
later inspired many successful airplanes such as the WWI
Taube and the