This is the
first known man-powered airplane built and flown in
What a thrill it is to see a replica of America’s
first airplane built 30 years before the Wright Brothers!
James Henry was a resident of Maney’s
Neck in Hertford County, near Murfreesboro. On a brisk
Sunday afternoon in the Fall of 1873, Gatling, sitting
in the cockpit of his invention, with hands and arms
furiously turning the cranks of his fan blowers, reportedly
glided a little over 100 feet from a platform constructed
approximately 12 feet above the ground. As he descended
through the trees and bushes before settling in a
rather rough and damaged fashion amid an open field,
James Henry Gatling put North Carolina, as well as
Murfreesboro, on America's aviation map!
Utilizing hand cranks to power fan-like
blowers, Gatling's plane embodied features later implemented
in the "Wright Flyer" of 1903, such as flexible
wings, a movable stabilizer and a vertical rudder
at the plane’s tail end.