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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.

Horatio F. PhillipsAn Englishman, Horatio F. Phillips demonstrated Cayley’s theories of lift. In 1884, he patented eight wing like sections of various widths and curvatures. He used a “wind box” to determine how fast an oncoming stream of air should be to sustain each different form carrying the same weight. His experiments proved that a curved surface creates more lift than a flat surface.

In 1891, Phillips devised and patented an improved wing section designed to create even more lift. He explained that low pressure is produced on the blade’s upper surface, while high pressure is produced on the underside. Since high pressure always moves toward low pressure, the high pressure below pushes the blade upward to the low pressure and creates lift.

In 1893, he created a 350 pound (158.8 kilogram) model aircraft that ran around a 628 foot (181.4 meter) circular track attached to a central pole. The model rose about three feet (91 centimeters) off the ground when it reached a speed of 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour). This model had fifty rows of superimposed small winglets arranged in a slat like fashion on wheels. Each slat was twenty two feet (6.7 meters) long and 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) wide and was mounted two inches from the next slat. A coal fired engine turned a twin bladed propeller 400 revolutions per minute.

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Horatio Phillips was born in 1845 in Streatham, a suburb of London, England. He was the son of a gunsmith. Little has been written about his education, but he demonstrated interest in aeronautics at an early age and he closely followed the wind tunnel and whirling arm research conducted under the auspices of the Aeronautical Society. His main contribution was in airfoil design. In 1884 and again in 1891, he tested a variety of airfoil sections in an early wind tunnel that used a steam injector to suck air in through the entrance of the tunnel. The steam produced an airflow through the test section that was of better quality than earlier wind tunnels had produced. Phillips’ experiments demonstrated that on a thick cambered wing or airfoil section that was curved more on the top surface than on the bottom, the difference in pressure above and below the airfoil (pressure was less above the wing) produced lift. In 1884, Phillips received a patent for his two surface wing sections. He received a second patent in 1891.

His later experiments were less noteworthy although certainly dramatic. In 1893, he designed a flying machine with 50 wings to demonstrate his theories in actual use. His “multiplane” resembled a giant venetian blind. The frame measured 22 feet long and only 1.5 inches wide. A coal fired engine powered the machine and turned the propeller. He tested his craft on a circular track and managed to rise some two to three feet off the ground when the engine ran at 40 miles per hour. He built another similar machine that ran on a larger track. In 1904 and again in 1907, he built conducted additional tests. His 1904 model had 20 wings and managed a shop “hop” of about 50 feet. D. Fullerton on the Phillips flying machine show that in 1893 the first machine was built with a length of 25 feet, breadth of 22 feet, and height of 11 feet, the total weight, including a 72 lb. load, being 420 lbs.

The machine was fitted with some fifty wood slats, in place of the single supporting surface of the monoplane or two superposed surfaces of the biplane, these slats being fixed in a steel frame so that the whole machine rather resembled a Venetian blind.

A steam engine giving about 9 horse power provided the motive power for the six foot diameter propeller which drove the machine. As it was not possible to put a passenger in control as pilot, the machine was attached to a central post by wire guys and run round a circle 100 feet in diameter, the track consisting of wooden planking 4 feet wide.

Pressure of air under the slats caused the machine to rise some two or three feet above the track when sufficient velocity had been attained, and the best trials were made on June 19th 1893, when at a speed of 40 miles an hour, with a total load of 385 lbs., all the wheels were off the ground for a distance of 2,000 feet.

In 1904 a full sized machine was constructed by Mr Phillips, with a total weight, including that of the pilot, of 600 lbs. The machine was designed to lift when it had attained a velocity of 50 feet per second, the motor fitted giving 22 horse power. On trial, however, the longitudinal equilibrium was found to be defective, and a further design was got out, the third machine being completed in 1907.

In this the wood slats were held in four parallel container frames,
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the weight of the machine, excluding the pilot, being 500 lbs. A motor similar to that used in the 1904 machine was fitted, and the machine was designed to lift at a velocity of about 30 miles an hour, a seven foot propeller doing the driving. Mr Phillips tried out this machine in a field about 400 yards across.

‘The machine was started close to the hedge, and rose from the ground when about 200 yards had been covered. When the machine touched the ground again, about which there could be no doubt, owing to the terrific jolting, it did not run many yards. When it came to rest I was about ten yards from the boundary. Of course, I stopped the engine before I commenced to descend.’

By Octave Chanute.

I am asked to set forth the development of the “two surface” type of flying machine which is now used with modifications by Wright Brothers, Farman, Delagrange, Herring and others.

This type originated with Mr. F. H. Wenham, who patented it in England in 1866 (No. 1571), taking out provisional papers only. In the abridgment of British patent Aeronautical Specifications (1893) it is described as follows:

Two or more aeroplanes are arranged one above the other, and support a framework or car containing the motive power. The aeroplanes are made of silk or canvas stretched on a frame by wooden rods or steel ribs. When manual power is employed the body is placed horizontally, and oars or propellers are actuated by the arms or legs. A start may be obtained by lowering the legs and running down hill or the machine may be started from a moving carriage. One or more screw propellers may be applied for propelling when steam power is employed.

On June 27, 1866, Mr. Wenham read before the “Aeronautical Society of Great Britain,” then recently organized, the ablest paper ever presented to that society, and thereby breathed into it a spirit which has continued to this day. In this paper he described his observations of birds, discussed the laws governing flight as to the surfaces and power required both with wings and screws, and he then gave an account of his own experiments with models and with aeroplanes of sufficient size to carry the weight of a man.

Phillips Fails on Stability Problem

In 1893 Mr. Horatio Phillips, of England, after some very interesting experiments with various wing sections, from which he deduced conclusions as to the shape of maximum lift, tested an apparatus resembling a Venetian blind which consisted of fifty wooden slats of peculiar shape, 22 feet long, one and a half inches wide, and two inches apart, set in ten vertical upright boards. All this was carried upon a body provided with three wheels. It weighed 420 pounds and was driven at 40 miles an hour on a wooden sidewalk by a steam engine of nine horsepower which actuated a two bladed screw. The lift was satisfactory, being perhaps 70 pounds per horsepower, but the equilibrium was quite bad and the experiments were discontinued. They were taken up again in 1904 with a similar apparatus large enough to carry a passenger, but the longitudinal equilibrium was found to be defective. Then in 1907 a new machine was tested, in which four sets of frames, carrying similar sets of slat “sustainers” were inserted, and with this arrangement the longitudinal stability was found to be very satisfactory. The whole apparatus, with the operator, weighed 650 pounds.

The World’s First Lifting BodyIn 1884 and again in 1891, British inventor Horatio Phillips tested a variety of wing sections in an early wind tunnel, in which he used steam to study the movement of air along various surfaces. He wrote:
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