Samuel Langley, US aviation pioneer

Samuel Langley, US aviation pioneer

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Samuel Langley (1834-1906), American astronomer and aviation pioneer, using a 5 inch equatorial telescope during a Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory solar eclipse expedition. Langley became Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution (1887). Between 1891 and 1896, he built many aircraft models, trying to solve the power-to-weight problem that prevented his 'aerodromes' from flying. Finally, he produced a steam-driven model that flew for nearly a mile. This convinced him, in 1903, to attempt to fly a full-scale version of the Langley Aerodrome. It was not a success. A second attempt was also a failure and Langley died in 1906, a broken man.

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