with many thanks to Frank Didik
years, most people have assumed that the Wright Brothers
were the first people to build and fly the first manned,
heavier then air, plane. A recent investigation of early
publications, however, seems to indicate that A. M. Herring
made the first manned powered flight in 1899, four years
before the famous Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk.
According to the May 17, 1899 issue of the Horseless Age, A.
M. Herring was well known in the field of aviation and is a
designer of lightweight aircraft engines and is also a
bicycle designer. Further, it is clear from the published
photograph of A.M. Herrings 1899 aircraft that the Wright
Brothers plane looks almost the same. Interestingly, the
Herring plane seems to have controls that the Wright
Brothers adapted 4 years later on their first plane. Further
the May 17, 1899 issue of this magazine also refers to the
May 1897 issue (which sadly is not available to this author)
which apparently also discusses A. M. Herring's aircraft
innovations. Since the Horseless Age was the leading
authority on automotive and personal transportation news, it
is possible that the Wright Brothers read about A. M.
The May 17, 1899 issue of The Horseless Age
describes A. M. Herring's airplane and states that he is the
first man to fly. The magazine was of a high standard and
the article should be considered credible.
(Click to enlarge)
The June 7, 1899 issue of "The Horseless Age"
discusses A.M. Herrings new lightweight gasoline engines.
Notice that the design of the propellers.
Horseless Age magazine was the first automotive magazine in
the United States and was supported by the upper crust of
American Society. The magazine was very expensive for the
time and provided the latest information and innovations to
automobile owners and automobile manufacturers. Today, very
few issues of the Horseless Age remain, however almost all
of our knowledge on early automobiles comes from this
magazine. Copies of this magazine are available in a handful
of libraries in the United States including the Detroit
public library, the Library of Congress and perhaps others.
Information contained in this magazine must be considered
very credible. It is interesting to note that contrary to
today's belief, most people at the turn of the century fully
believed that manned aircraft would be produced in a matter
of time. The magazine, while speculating in "horseless
carriages" (automobiles), did periodically report about new
innovations in aviation and light weight motor technology.
The caption for this photograph, published in the May 17,
1899 issue of The Horseless Age, states: "A.M. Herrings
compressed air flying machine. First motor machine to
successfully carry an operator in free flight"