July 10, 2007
Robot Blimp Pioneers

TAKEOFF STOP TURN LEFT 15 DEGREES STOP (yeah, i stole this from a comment)

From Shorpy:

“Anthony's Wireless Airship.” A small powered blimp used in 1912 to demonstrate remote control of aircraft by wireless telegraphy. (“Professor Anthony has exhibited a method of airship control of his own by wireless. He and Leo Stephens recently gave an exhibition of starting, controlling, turning and stopping an airship by wireless which was quite a long distance from the station which controlled its action.”)

From “An Epitome of the Work of the Aeronautic Society [of New York] from July, 1908, to December, 1909”, describing an Aeronautical Evening (an offshoot of the Automobile Club, apparently) in 1909:

Hudson Maxim, the famous inventor, gave his views on the future of the flying machine in war. The Hon. Col. Butler Ames, M.C., described, and for the first time showed photographs and moving pictures of, his new machine, and his experiments at the Navy Yard, Washington, and on the Potomac River. M. O. Anthony gave a demonstration of his remarkable invention for the control of airships by means of wireless telegraphy. The evening closed with a fine display of moving pictures of machines in flight, the first display of the kind ever made in this country. A unanimous vote was passed urging Congress to appropriate generous sums for the development of aeronautics for the Army.

These guys were the Homebrew Computer Clubbers and Makers of their time.

And check this out, from the same page:

Lesh brought his glider to the exhibition, and made a number of fine glides, towed by a horse and also by an automobile. It was his purpose in his last flight, in an endeavor to win the Brooklyn Eagle gold medal, to cut the tow-line when he had reached a sufficient height. He did so, but the crowd got in his way, and hampered him in landing. He fell and broke his right ankle.

Unfortunately, the fractures were badly set at the Fordham Hospital, and later it became necessary to place Lesh under the care of a specialist at Hahnemann Hospital. The plucky boy had a bad time for a long while. But he is now well again, and though slightly lames, Dr. Geo. W. Roberts gives every assurance that eventually he will be all right. On his reappearance at a meeting of the Society, Lesh was at once unanimously elected a Complimentary member, and he is now again taking an active part.

There is an RC plane field not far from me with a web discussion board that, 100 years later, reads similarly to this, with the showing off of new stuff to each other, recounting of failures, and even some serious injuries (with subsequent attempts to call for aid via wireless). I bet the monoplane enthusiasts and the dirigible gentlemen of the turn of the century occasionally lost their tempers and called each other names, in the same way the modern RCers divide themselves into quarreling factions based on whether they fly helicopters or electric planes or models of military aircraft.

It might only be in contemporary SoCal, though, where someone will pull a knife on you for landing your wireless airship against the traditional field pattern.

Posted by jjwiseman at July 10, 2007 05:30 PM

That was probobly in a way the first digital I would imagine with ones and zeroes being dots and dashes converted to a command.

Posted by: Senseless_ on July 14, 2007 09:09 PM
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