America’s First Airplane Flight Took Place in Michigan, 1899
Wait a minute...wasn't that Wilbur & Orville Wright who commandeered the first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903?
The correct part is the place and date.
The incorrect part was being first.
America's first ever flight took place in Michigan.
The man's name was Augustus Herring of St. Joseph, Michigan, who had created his own flying machine during the 1890s. According to Southwest Michigan Directory, it was “a biplane glider of his own design with a compressed air engine”.
It was on October 11, 1899 when Augustus took his craft to the beach at Silver Lake and flew 50 feet. Eleven days later, he took a second flight, this time flying 73 feet along the beach. It was four years later when the Wrights made their flight.
Aviation critics mildly scoffed at Herring's glider, because it was a glider, it was hard to maneuver, and could only last for approximately 30 seconds in flight. They went so far as to claim Herring's craft “wasn't significant”. Herring soon went through some financial problems and was never able to further his experiments, thus opening the way for the Wrights to take over and make their mark in history.
Herring seems to be not very well thought-of by many. There have been (and always will be) arguments about his 'flight'. Glider, plane, engine, non-engine...the disagreements on his flight will continue, but the fact is, no matter what was using, he did mange to fly - or glide, although briefly - before the Wrights.
Today's hang gliders still use Herring's methods, while the Wrights' original mechanisms failed to develop. Thankfully, more & more historians are realizing the significance of Augustus Herring's flight efforts, whether it was a 'legitimate' flying machine or not.
MICHIGAN FLIGHT FAST FACTS:
1) Michigan's first commercial airport, Packard Field in Roseville, opened around 1919.
2) Legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh was born in Detroit in 1902.
3) Harriet Quimby from Arcadia, Michigan was the first female in America to receive a pilot's license.
Take a look at the gallery below, featuring many old Michigan airports and plane scenes, some going back over 100 years!