This is the first known man-powered airplane built and flown in America.
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.