The Aviation Historian

Issue 23: out now

Subscribe, or buy single issues from our online shop. Issue 24 will be published on July 15, 2018

John Cunningham interviewed on Comet 3 flight deckRAF centenary: how Trenchard’s fledgling took an early wrong turn

Fairey RotodyneFairey Rotodyne: novel but noisy, and a nightmare of bureaucracy

Partially dismantled Sepecat Jaguar on trailerGood runner sir, might need some attention: Nigeria’s Jaguars

Ernle Clark and his Percival GullIn Batten’s wake: Ernle Clark, first man to fly solo from UK to NZ

Published quarterly by:

The Aviation Historian
PO Box 962
RH12 9PP
United Kingdom

Nick Stroud

e-mail (Please contact Nick to submit articles for publication)

Managing Editor
Mick Oakey

e-mail (Please contact Mick for queries relating to subscriptions, advertising, marketing etc and to submit readers’ letters)

Telephone enquiries:
07572 237737
(please note this is a mobile number)

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FREE Hawker P.1129 artwork

Our print edition of TAH22 includes a double-gatefold technical artwork featuring inboard profiles and equipment details for the P.1129, Hawker’s contender for what eventually became the BAC TSR.2 supersonic strike aircraft. It wasn’t practicable to include the artwork in our digital edition, but digital readers (and of course anyone else who would like to) may click here to download a two-page PDF of it.

P1129 diagrams

Boeing 707 loses 25ft of wing in flight

To complement Melvyn Hiscock's article on Pan Am Flight 843 in TAH13, here is a remarkable 5min contemporary news report which includes footage from the airliner's cabin showing the aircraft's starboard wing on fire and after the outer wing section had separated:


NEW interactive TAH graphics

These interactive PDFs (click here or scroll down the page) depict the 1903 and 1914 versions of the Langley Aerodrome, plus a further composite graphic showing the differences between the two – demonstrating how history was not just rewritten but physically rebuilt in an attempt to persuade the world that Langley could have flown before the Wright Brothers. They were created by historian and replica-builder Nick Engler, especially to accompany his exposé of the Curtiss-Langley Affair in TAH11.

Langley Aerodrome 3D PDFs — explore how history was "rebuilt"


A "still" from Nick Engler’s interactive graphic of the 1903 Langley Aerodrome.

Click here to download our 3D PDF of the 1903 Langley Aerodrome – the aircraft in its original configuration.

Click here to download our 3D PDF of the 1914 Langley Aerodrome – the aircraft in its much-modified configuration, with pontoon floats, altered wings and propellers, revised bracing, new control system and other changes.

Click here to download our composite 3D PDF showing the differences between the 1903 and 1914 Langley Aerodromes.

We recommend you view the PDFs using using Adobe Reader X (downloadable free here: – owing to the amount of detail, they are big files and may take a while to load.


Screencast graphic

Click here to watch a 6min screencast about how to view the interactive PDFs.

If you would like to dig more deeply into the subject, click here to download a PDF of Nick Engler's original 44-page paper on the Wright-Smithsonian controversy, complete with footnotes and source notes.

Finally, here is some information by Nick Engler about the references he used in creating the PDFs:

Note on Historical Accuracy, by Nick Engler

The 3D model of the 1903 Langley Aerodrome is based on the engineering drawings for "Aerodrome A" that were published in 1911 by the Smithsonian Institution in the "Langley Memoir on Mechanical Flight" by Samuel P. Langley, edited by Charles Manly, and "Langley's Aero Engine of 1903" edited by Robert B. Meyer, Jr. I also travelled to the Smithsonian's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, where I took hundreds of reference photos of the restored Langley Aerodrome.

The 1914 "reconstructed" Langley Aerodrome no longer exists, but I was able to find dozens of photos that were taken of the aircraft when it was tested at Hammondsport, NY during 1914 and 1915. These, combined with the 1911 engineering drawings, served as my basic reference. I also found detailed descriptions of the 1914 Aerodrome in Smithsonian publications, back issues of Scientific American and other periodicals.

For all my careful research, there was some guesswork in reconstructing these aircraft. Scholars and historians should be aware that a few small parts are not evident in drawings or photos of the Aerodrome, although they are described in publications. These parts I drew from historic examples found on other machines, and then placed them where common sense and my experience with pioneer aircraft construction said they should go. For example, I could not find a photo that clearly showed the high-tension magneto Curtiss installed in the 1914 Aerodrome, or a reference to the brand and model he used. I drew a Bosch DU5 magneto – the Bosch D series were popular ignition systems at the time – and placed it between the third and fourth cylinders of the Manly-Balzer engine. This is one of the areas I couldn't see clearly in the historic photos, and it's a likely nesting place for a mag. If you find a part that's drawn inaccurately or out of place and you have clear evidence of what that part looks like and where it should go, please let me know (e-mail me on so I can update these models.

Additionally, while you will find these 3D models remarkably detailed, I did not draw every detail. I omitted many small fasteners – nuts, bolts, washers, and screws. I also omitted the hundreds of small fittings where wire rigging was attached to the Aerodrome, along with the loops that passed through these fittings and soldered ends of the wires. Not only would these parts have been ridiculously time-consuming to draw, their presence in a digital model would have increased the size of the 3D PDF file immensely.

Watch John Farley demonstrating G-VSTO

To complement the legendary Harrier test pilot's article Swiss Movement in TAH7, here is film footage of his full display at Agno airfield in Switzwerland on June 11, 1971, carefully choreographed to show off Harrier demonstrator G-VSTO's capabilities to their full extent against a vertiginous Alpine backdrop. Given the Harrier's engine-noise levels, the lack of a soundtrack is perhaps merciful; but the display routine is a work of aerial art:



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