! ! WARNING ! !

Above is Zulu Time!!

The history of the airplane engine.

How it all begin!

We all know that an airplane needs something to produce forward motion or in aviation language: thrust .

I hear you say, a glider doesn't! Well there your wrong, even a glider needs trust to get in the air !

The first real good engine was build in 1902 by Manly and weighed 108 pounds.

In 1902 the Brothers Wright who had a bicycle shop, constructed the first successful airplane called the“Flyer” equipped with a single cylinder engine which they designed also them selves.


On December 14, 1903 they tried the first time to take-off, fly, and land safely. That last part was a little problem. Because the Flyer stalled on his first flight and smashed on the ground. But on December 17 they tried again and with success!
The Flyer stayed in the air for 12 sec. covering 120 feet or  +/- 36 metre. And if you wonder how was flying the thing, Orville Wright !

All of this was only possible with the invention of an engine supplying enough trust making it possible for the plane to create lift.

The history of airplane propulsion or also know as “Trust”.

Nikolaus August Otto who was born in 1858 together with a Belgian engineer called Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir invented a double-acting  with electric spark internal combustion engine. And patented it in 1860. On June 1832 in a place called Holzhauzen that’s Germany, a boy gets born with the name Nikolaus August Otto. That boy became the man who built the first two stroke engine that ran on gas. Together with a man called Eugen Langen, his partner, a German industrialist. They built a factory for the improvement of the engine. And again whit success, because in 1867 they won the gold medal at the World Fair in Paris! The company they founded as “N.A. Otto & Cie. “ still exists today, butt now a days is changes in “Klockner-Humbolt-Deutz AG”. Today it is this company who is the oldest, in manufacturing internal combustion engines in the world. Also is this company the largest when it comes to manufacturing air cooled Diesel engines.

In 1876, Otto decides to build a FOUR STOKE engine. With this engine being a fact it was the first alternative to a steam machine. Not only that, butt this engine would turnout to be the roll model for all future engines. So in “only” 44 year  he development  and buidt a two and a four stroke engine, thereby making the base for all future engines.


The regrettable fact about all this is that the patent he took on his engine invention got revoked in 1886 by a guy called Aphonse Beau de Rochas. A Frenchman, and also engineer. This guy took a patent on the four store cycle, butt still Otto was the first ever to actually build the thing and make it work properly, witch Lenoir didn’t succeed in due to a bad electrical system. Good work Otto !!!

 Much better result then Hiram Maxim an American, had with the steam engine used for flight of a Triple Biplane in 1894. However, in 1896 Samuel Langley buildt a model unmanned airplane also equipped with a steam engine,
named “Aerodrome ” which flew +/- 1 mile (1.853 km)……………….and then smashed in to the ground due to no steam supply resulting in , no propulsion,…………..and down he went ! One should think he stop building steam engine equipped airplanes. But no sir, he did not take this as a sign to stop but as a sign to try and improving his design and buildt the full size copy calling it the “Aerodrome A” ! But equipped it with not a steam- but  a gas-engine ! Trying to do better then the model version, it crached IMMEDIATELY after take-off from………a house boot ! It’s the year 1903 at that time.  Notice that it was the same year that the Wright Brothers succeeded  in their flight with “THE FLYER “ also mentioned on the top of this page. The same engine they used stayed in service till +/- 1930 somewhere .

Then the age of a new engine was born !

In 1930 a guy came along called Frank Whittle (British, Pilot), this man designed the first turbo jet engine ever ! And with success ! In April 1937 the first engine buildt of this kind flew successfully ! A new page in the history of flight was made. On the moment the second World War was waiting to happen this knowledge was used by this time, the German Hans Von Ohain. And, with great success a might add. In cooperation with the German airplane builder Heinkel they even improved it in 1941 calling it ; the He S.8A it flew April 2 of that same year. The Messerschmitt Me 262 was one of the famous airplanes build with this engine.

The Me 262 in flight.

And on static display.

Of course the Americans could not stay behind in this development, and made, the Bell XP-59A, an experimental airplane flew in 1942 October first. The engine here was called the General Electric 1-A (based on the Frank Whittle design,W2B). The WU 2 was the base for the GE 1-A 

Whittle at work on his first jet engine the first ever build !    

Here you see an actual picture of the real thing, proto type of course!

And the Patent Drawing!

Finally it would end up as the engine for the XP-59A experimental plane. Here you see it in flight. And when you visit Wasington, then go to the Air and Space museum, you'll find him at the sealing!

This was the beginning of jet fight all over the world. The German, the Britisch, and the Americans where all busy with jet engines.

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