Earlier this month, MovingCities flew from Shanghai 上海 to Shenzhen 深圳.
In the past we have contextualized our aerophotography adventures by introducting a 24-year old Portuguese priest making real airplanes (from real paper) in 1709 (here) or discussed the relation between aerophotography and the work German apothecary Julius Neubronner [1852-1932] (here). This time around, we an introduce A. F. Mozhaisky [1825-1890] – an admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy, aviation pioneer, researcher and designer of heavier-than-air craft (source).
A quick search around reveals that “in 1884, Alexander Mozhaisky, a captain in the Russian Imperial Navy, launched a steam-powered monoplane down a ramp near St. Petersburg, Russia. It was airborne for 75 to 100 feet (23 to 30 meters), but could not sustain flight. Nor did Mozhaisky provide any controls” (source), an intriguing 3 dollar postcard from the “Aeroflot postcards series. Good condition, but postcard has an insignificant bend and slight tear.” (source), a collection of stamps depicting Mozhaisky and his plane (source), even a “esquema del avion de Mozhaisky” and a “representacion de la epoca del vuelo de 1882” (source) and start understanding that the invention of history can coincide, or even be influenced, by retro-active claims of the invention of the airplane, as this post on (aerospaceweb) reminds us:
Accounts of the flight’s success are conflicting. Early reports from the late 1800s and early 1900s indicate that the plane almost immediately tipped over onto one wing and crashed shortly after lift off. More recent accounts indicate that the plane may have made a short hop some 65 to 100 ft (19.8 to 30.5 m) in distance before it crashed to the ground. However, it should be noted that these more ambitious claims of success were not made until 1949 when the nationalistic Soviet leader Joseph Stalin asserted that Mozhaisky was the true inventor of the airplane.
The “Memorial estate of A.Mozhaisk” provides us with following concise account of Alexander Mozhaisky’ life:
Russian aviation pioneer Alexander Mozhaisky (1825-1890) was born into a sailor’s family. Following in his father’s footsteps, he made a highly successful naval career. In 1853-1854 he circumnavigated the world on board the frigate “Diana” reaching the Far East via the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Having spent much of his life serving in the Russian navy, Mozhaisky began studying the fundamentals of aeronautics. He started his efforts by studying birds, the structure of their wings, and the relationship between the area of their wings and their weight. Mozhaisky also studied kites as well as propellers during these early years. In order to further his work, Mozhaisky was able to receive some government funding from the Military Ministry for his research. Unfortunately, the government refused to finance the project in 1878, and Mozhaisky was forced to forge ahead on his own. He succeeded in designing an aircraft and received a patent on his invention in 1881.
Pictures by movingcities.org