Langley, Samuel Pierpont

Langley, Samuel Pierpont

▪ American engineer
born Aug. 22, 1834, Roxbury, Mass., U.S.
died Feb. 27, 1906, Aiken, S.C.
 American astrophysicist and aeronautical pioneer who developed new instruments with which to study the Sun and built the first powered heavier-than-air machine of significant size to achieve sustained flight.

      Following his education at the Boston Latin School, Langley worked as an engineer and architectural draftsman before traveling to Europe in 1864. Following his return in 1866, he was appointed an assistant professor of mathematics at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The next year he accepted a position as a professor of physics and astronomy at the Western University of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh) and as the director of the university's Allegheny Observatory. His chief interest was in the impact of solar radiation on the Earth. In 1878 he invented the bolometer, an instrument capable of detecting minute differences in temperature. Using this and other instruments, Langley extended the study of the Sun into the far infrared region of the solar spectrum. He was named assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1887 and secretary soon thereafter.

      Langley began his experiments on the physics of flight while still at the Allegheny Observatory. The results of those tests were published in Experiments in Aerodynamics (1881) and provided a foundation for the design of a series of flying models, beginning with smaller rubber-powered aircraft and culminating in larger tandem-wing aerodromes, as he called them, powered by lightweight steam engines (steam engine). On May 6, 1896, one of these aircraft, the Langley aerodrome No. 5, made a flight of some 3,000 feet (some 900 metres) over the Potomac River. It was the first time that a powered, heavier-than-air machine had achieved sustained flight.

      In 1898, with a grant from the U.S. government, Langley began work on a full-scale aerodrome capable of carrying a human aloft. Completed in 1903, the machine was powered by a radial engine developing 52 horsepower. Two attempts were made to launch the machine by catapult into the air from the roof of a large houseboat moored in the Potomac in October and December 1903. On both occasions, the aerodrome fell into the water without flying. The pilot, Charles Matthews Manly, Langley's chief aeronautical assistant, survived both crashes, but the aeronautical experiments of Langley had come to an end. In spite of later claims, there is no reason to believe that the full-scale Langley aerodrome was capable of flight.

Tom D. Crouch

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Langley, Samuel (Pierpont) — born Aug. 22, 1834, Roxbury, Mass., U.S. died Feb. 27, 1906, Aiken, S.C. U.S. astronomer and aeronautics pioneer. He taught for many years at the future University of Pittsburgh. He studied the effect of solar activity on weather and invented the …   Universalium

  • Langley, Samuel (Pierpont) — (22 ago. 1834, Roxbury, Mass., EE.UU.–27 feb. 1906, Aiken, S.C.). Astrónomo estadounidense y pionero de la aeronáutica. Enseñó por muchos años en la futura universidad de Pittsburg. Estudió el efecto de la actividad solar en el clima e inventó el …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Samuel Pierpont Langley — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Samuel Pierpont Langley Retrato de Samuel Pierpont Langley …   Wikipedia Español

  • Samuel Pierpont Langley — (22 août 1834, Roxbury 27 février 1906, Aiken) est un physicien, inventeur et astronome américain, bien que ses tentatives de vol pilotés soient restées infructueuses on le compte aussi parmi les pionniers de l aviation …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Samuel Pierpoint Langley — Samuel Pierpont Langley Samuel Pierpont Langley (* 22. August 1834 in Roxbury, Massachusetts; † 27. Februar 1906 in Aiken, South Carolina) war ein Astrophysiker und Flugpionier. Langley erfand unter anderem das …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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