Invention of the Airplane

Who Came First?

The opinions about the first invention of the airplane have been discussed and argued upon for generations. This is not uncommon for inventions.

The same happened with the tallest building, which depended upon what definition was used to define a building.

When discussing the first invention of the airplane, it all comes down to what is the "definition of an airplane."

In fact, there is a distinction made regarding the use of the word "first", whether it's use means the first to patent the invention of the airplane or the first to invent the airplane.

Early Pioneers

The first attempts at building an airplane were challenging. Inventors didn't make much progress before the Industrial Revolution.

Many aviators worked alone on their inventions and would rarely discuss their ideas or collaborate with other inventors.

Some inventors, such as Richard Pearse of New Zealand, achieved amazing results with their inventions but did not have good records of their work to support their claims to being the first to have invented an airplane.

The only conclusion that can be made about early airplane inventions is the fact that there were many of them.

Flight Definition

The debate over airplane definitions centers around the meaning of the word "flight".

There are people who feel that if a craft was airborne for several meters, without significant lift, then this would constitute a “hop” and not a “flight”.

Consequently a "hop" would disqualify the craft from being defined as an airplane.

However, others argued that if a craft is capable of remaining airborne for a few seconds, without the help of physical force, then it should be considered a flight.