THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

THE PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

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William Samuel Henson

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1812 - 1888

 

Henson's flying Machine

 

 

Exaggerated View Of The Henson Aerial Steam Carriage

William Samuel Henson was an engineer and inventor who was familiar with the aeronautical work of George Cayley. Discussions with his associate John Stringfellow led to his design for a large passenger-carrying steam-powered monoplane, with a wing span of 150 feet, named "ARIEL - The Henson Aerial Steam Carriage," which he patented in 1842. Henson, Stringfellow and two others, Frederick Marriott and D. E. Colombine, incorporated the Aerial Transit Company in 1843, and fully intended to construct the flying machine. Henson had demonstrated a model of his design, which may or may not have made at least one tentative steam powered flight, as it lifted, somewhat, off a wire guide. Numerous attempts to actually fly the large model (and an even larger model with a 20 foot wing span) were made between 1844 and 1847, but none of the attempts were unsuccessful. The Aerial Transit Company's publicist, Frederick Marriott, had a number of prints made in 1843 depicting the Aerial Steam Carriage over the pyramids in Egypt, in India, over London, England, and other places, which drew considerable interest from the press. Not all of the attention was approving, many in the press were extremely skeptical of the motives of the Aerial Transit Company, essentially raising questions of whether the group was a hoax or a fraud. This could have not been very welcome considering how seriously Henson and his group had taken the project, and given that the model Aerial Steam Carriage had not performed as expected.

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William Samuel Henson

An Aerial Transit Company Print (cropped) Depicting The Aerial Steam Carriage "ARIEL" - 1843

An Aerial Transit Company Pamphlet Regarding The Aerial Steam Carriage "ARIEL" - 1843

Aerial Steam Carriage: To finance the building of his giant steam-powered airplane, Henson tried to organize an "Aerial Transit Company" in 1843. Many widely-published illustrations showed the Ariel-as Henson called his machine-in effortless flight over China, India, and the pyramids of Egypt. Such gradiose and premature announcements subjected the inventor to great ridicule when his scheme collapsed, but the publicity had gone far to condition even a skeptical and indifferent public to the idea of fixed-wing, propeller-driven aircraft. The Ariel was to be the preview of what was to soon be in aviation

As can be seen in the illustrations below, quite detailed plans were drawn for the Aerial Steam Carriage and great consideration was given to a number of necessary elements, such as flight control and wing loading. The planned construction of the wings is particularly noteworthy for it set a pattern which was followed well into The Great War, WWI. The rectangular wings were curved on the tops and bottoms, not flat surfaces, and were formed by wooden ribs attached to wooden spars (hollow cylinders which gradually tapered to the ends) and covered with fabric, and were braced, internally and externally, with wires. Henson's design was very influential and his detailed patent drawings contained a wealth of well-conceived and well-executed ideas for a flying machine. It was also the first recognizably "modern" monoplane design, with a three-wheeled landing gear, and powered by two contra-rotating six-bladed propellers. While certain design elements, most notably the tail, were somewhat bird-like, the overall impression one has of the "ARIEL" is that it is a true flying machine, not an imitation of a bird. The Aerial Steam Carriage never took to the air, but it nonetheless registered firmly in the minds and imaginations of multitudes of people to became one of the strongest archetypal images of early aeronautics.

The Aerial Transit Company never built the large version of the Aerial Steam Carriage, perhaps because of the disappointing experiments with the model craft and, perhaps, because of the expense involved. Henson, Stringfellow, Marriott and Colombine parted company. In 1848 William Henson and his wife, Sarah, left their native England and moved to the U.S., settling in Newark, New Jersey, where he spent the last 40 years of his life. Henson had apparently ceased his aerial research for good, and never again took up the matter. Henson, along with his wife and children, and other members of their family are buried in Orange, New Jersey.

William Henson was an engineer and inventor who got into aviation because of the works of a man named George Cayley.  Henson was an industrialist in the lace making business in Somerset, England.  In 1840, along with his associate John Stringfellow, Henson designed a steam powered airplane named the "Ariel-The Henson Aerial Steam Carriage".
 
The Ariel had a wingspan of 150 feet and was patented in 1842.  There were many attempts made to fly this machine between 1844 and 1847, but they were all unsuccessful.  The construction of the wings of the Ariel set a pattern, and all the planes up to World War One used this style of wing.  The design of the Ariel was the first known "modern" monoplane design because it had landing gear and was powered by a propeller with six blades.  The surface area of the plane was 4,500 square feet, and the tail which was quite bird like was 1,500 square feet.  The power of the plane was to be driven by a steam engine of 25 to 30 horse-power.   Although the Ariel never flew it was remembered forever as one of the strongest designs in aeronautical history.

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Detail Of Patent Drawing
Of The Aerial Steam Carriage - 1842

Patent Drawing Of The Aerial Steam Carriage - 1842
The Aerial Transit Company's Aerial Steam Carriage Depicted In India,

 *Note The Launching Ramp On The Left And The Tower To Permit Passengers To Board.

Henson Aerial Steam Carriage download cardmodel from fiddlers green

Henson and Stringfellow had planned on creating the Aerial Transit Company, which would have been the first international airline the world would ever see.  Very detailed plans were made for the Ariel and for the Aerial Transit Company.  Henson had pictures drawn of the Transit Company and the Ariel in flight in such places as India, Egypt, London, and China.  He had hoped that this would make people believe in his design and not think that it was a hoax.  The company that supplied the patent for The Aeriel Transit Company really raved about the flying machine, they made it sound like the Ariel was more advanced than it really was.  "The invention has been subjected to several tests and examinations and the results are most satisfactory so much so that nothing but hte completion of the undertaking is required to determine its practical operation."

William Samuel Henson was an engineer and inventor who was familiar with the aeronautical work of George Cayley. Discussions with his associate John Stringfellow led to his design for a large passenger-carrying steam-powered monoplane, with a wing span of 150 feet, named "ARIEL - The Henson Aerial Steam Carriage," which he patented in 1842. Henson, and Stringfellow and two others, Frederick Marriott and D. E. Colombine, incorporated the Aerial Transit Company in 1843, and fully intended to construct the flying machine. Henson had demonstrated a model of his design, which may or may not have made at least one tentative steam powered flight, as it lifted, somewhat, off a wire guide. Numerous attempts to actually fly the large model (and an even larger model with a 20 foot wing span) were made between 1844 and 1847, but none of the attempts were unsuccessful. The Aerial Transit Company's publicist, Frederick Marriott, had a number of prints made in 1843 depicting the Aerial Steam Carriage over the pyramids in Egypt, in India, over London, England, and other places, which drew considerable interest from the press. Not all of the attention was approving, many in the press were extremely skeptical of the motives of the Aerial Transit Company, essentially raising questions of whether the group was a hoax or a fraud. This could have not been very welcome considering how seriously Henson and his group had taken the project, and given that the model Aerial Steam Carriage had not performed as expected.

As can be seen in the illustrations below, quite detailed plans were drawn for the Aerial Steam Carriage and great consideration was given to a number of necessary elements, such as flight control and wing loading. The planned construction of the wings is particularly noteworthy for it set a pattern which was followed well into The Great War, WWI. The rectangular wings were curved on the tops and bottoms, not flat surfaces, and were formed by wooden ribs attached to wooden spars (hollow cylinders which gradually tapered to the ends) and covered with fabric, and were braced, internally and externally, with wires. Henson's design was very influential and his detailed patent drawings contained a wealth of well-conceived and well-executed ideas for a flying machine.

It was also the first recognizably "modern" monoplane design, with a three-wheeled landing gear, and powered by two contra-rotating six-bladed propellers. While certain design elements, most notably the tail, were somewhat bird-like, the overall impression one has of the "ARIEL" is that it is a true flying machine, not an imitation of a bird. The Aerial Steam Carriage never took to the air, but it nonetheless registered firmly in the minds and imaginations of multitudes of people to became one of the strongest archetypal images of early aeronautics.

The Aerial Transit Company never built the large version of the Aerial Steam Carriage, perhaps because of the disappointing experiments with the model craft and, perhaps, because of the expense involved. Henson, Stringfellow, Marriott and Colombine parted company. In 1848 William Henson and his wife, Sarah, left their native England and moved to the U.S., settling in Newark, New Jersey, where he spent the last 40 years of his life. Henson had apparently ceased his aerial research for good, and never again took up the matter. Henson, along with his wife and children, and other members of their family are buried in Orange, New Jersey.

 

 

Last Updated

02/10/2014

 

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