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Horatio Phillips
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Horatio F. Phillips, (1845-1926)

Horatio F. Phillips, of England, began experimenting with lifting curved surfaces in the 1880's. In 1893, he constructed a large device for testing the effective lift of what he termed "sustainers" (airfoils). The "Phillips Flying Machine," as it was known, was 9-1/2 feet tall and about 22 feet long, with 40 lifting surfaces. It was mounted on a circular track 200 feet in diameter.

The Phillips Flying Machine For Testing Aerocurves, Harrow, England - 1893

A two-bladed propeller driven by a steam engine pulled the machine around the track. The Phillips Flying Machine of 1893 was able to lift its own weight plus 72 pounds (a total of 402 pounds) some three feet, at a speed of about 40 m.p.h.

Phillips Flying Machines as reported in American Engineer 1892/93

Phillips continued to experiment with wing designs, and built another flying machine test rig in 1902, which had 120 wings and was powered by a gasoline engine.

The Phillips Flying Machine For Testing Aerocurves, Harrow, England - 1893

Phillips built his first human-carrying machine, with 20 lifting surfaces, in 1904, and was able to make at least one short hop of 50 feet. His 1907 machine had four banks of 50 wings each and an 8 foot propeller. It was in this machine that Phillips made a powered, although uncontrolled, flight of about 500 feet.

Phillips Patented Aerocurves - 1884 and 1891

As a result of his experiments, Phillips was able to prove his hypothesis that in a curved wing, where the curvature is greater on the top surface than the bottom surface, the lift is generated primarily by the upper surface. This proof had eluded Sir George Cayley, although he suspected it to be true.

Phillips was a pioneer of aerial engineering who took up where Cayley left off, and began the systematic evaluation of curved surfaces meant for aerial machines.