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Phillips multiplane

Horatio Phillips designed this man-carrying aircraft in 1904. It was his third model and had 20 wings. It managed a shop "hop" of about 50 feet

Horatio Phillips

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. His 1907 model flew about 500 feet.