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Pioneer Aviation Topics related to the aviators and aeroplanes prior to WWI

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Old 24 October 2009, 12:21 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Well boss, I thought about it for a whole 10 seconds and found it, first hit. No guess this time.

This is the Botts Flying Machine powered by its patented improved steam engine, constructed by the "World's Aerial Navigation and Construction Company of Point Richmond, California" - the brainchild of Professor Robert H. Botts - formerly known as Barnet N. Botts of Paso Robles, California.

According to local lore, Professor Botts, who had previously authored the thesis, Botts' Air-Ship - The Problem Of Aerial Navigation, under the name of Barnet N. Botts on January 1, 1894 in Paso Robles, arrived in Point Richmond in 1900 with the intention to build two steam-powered flying machines which would make aerial expeditions to the North Pole. He built a model, and promoted his aeronautical venture using photos of the model flying above Richmond [attached 1], whereupon he convinced many local businessmen to buy shares, erected a barn-like structure to suit his needs, and then began construction of his flying machine. In January 1903 (Paul says 1904 so we'll see what he says about that), Botts' completed machine [attached 2] was taken to the top of Nicholl Nob in preparation for its maiden voyage the following morning. But that night a storm blew in and the machine was tossed down to Glenn Avenue, where it landed - wrecked beyond repair. As was the usual fate of "promising" aviators in those days - those with much to gain, and a lot of other peoples' money to lose - Botts quickly left town.

Apparently, Botts, who by the way was born in Indiana on August 22, 1857, and had moved to Paso Robles in childhood after the death of his parents, sold shares in his aerial navigation company for 1 to 5 cents per - so it is debatable how large of an amount of money was actually owed to his shareholders.

The machine was published, in Scientific American as a matter of fact, in its issue of September 10, 1904, under the title The Botts Flying Machine.

The nature of the machine's mechanics, its construction and specifications, and its unproven capabilities of control in both the vertical and horizontal plane; I'll leave that up to Paul... since he knows everything!
-
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Attached Images
File Type: jpg Botts.1.jpg (23.6 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg Botts.2.jpg (25.7 KB, 14 views)
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Old 24 October 2009, 08:42 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Who's a grouchy Gus then?

First off: congratulations to Rod, for his perserverence, and for identifying the Botts' Flying Machine. I'll present the information I have about the inventor and his machine in chronological order. Anyone who has more information, that can cast light on this mysterious machine, is welcome to add details.

*********************

In 1857, the inventor was born Barnet Nixon Botts in Indiana.

In 1897, he wrote a small book called Botts' Air Ship: The Problem of Aerial Navigation (all text, no illustrations). Now out of copyright, this publication is available as a free download.

Much of what we know now of Botts' work in actually building his flying machine is thanks to a local historical society, the PRHA, in the Point Richmond area of California. One of the PRHA booklets, This Point in Time, and which is also downloadable as a very large (3.2Mb) PDF, contains quite a useful account of Botts' project.

According to the booklet, and now apparently styling himself as Professor Robert Botts, he arrived in Point Richmond, California, area in the winter of 1900. Six months later, he had announced plans for his flying machines, and touted the "World's Aerial Navigation and Construction Company" as his fund raising vehicle.

In 1901, and supplying addresses for both Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Point Richmond, California, he applied for and was granted two patents:




Note that the patented design has a single rear propeller, and a strong convex profile to the circular lifting surface. There is a single photo online showing this as a built design. The photo itself is a collage, but I am not sure if the machine is a model or was actually built. It does seem out of context with what else is known of his efforts, so I suspect it's a model:



By the time the flying machine - the one that's the subject of this challenge - was built, Botts' design had evolved. It had a tandem propeller arrangement and the flying surface became a somewhat flat disc.

By February 1902, he announced that he would complete two flying machines by June and use them to fly to the North Pole.

May 26,1902 saw Botts demonstrating his engines to the public.

August 1902 - public displays of a model and bits of his engine.

According to This Point in Time, Botts tested his machine at Nicholls' Nob, which is a local high spot in the Point Richmond area, in late 1903, but fate, and some strong winds, worked against him and his flying machine proved a dismal failure.

Here are a couple of images from This Point in Time,





Another account of Botts and his flying machine can be found in two online issues of PRHA newsletter:As to the exact dating of the Botts Airship and when it was actually tested , one can take your pick of different options. One part of the PRHA website quotes January 1903, the This Point in Time booklet says late in 1903, the PRHA newsletter articles simply has it as being "sometime in 1903".

I am, however, plumping for 1904. This is because of the only contemporary accounts I've found about the Bott's Flying Machine date from 1904. One of the accounts appeared in the September 10, 1904 issue of Scientific American. I have not been able to obtain a readable copy of the actual article, so do not know if the text could cast more light on the matter for us.



I am happy to shift the date back to 1903, but would like a contemporary newspaper account, or the like, to substantiate that as being the case.

Cheers,
Paul

Last edited by aerohydro; 24 October 2009 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 24 October 2009, 08:54 PM   #23 (permalink)
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More information and images:

The following images come from the PRHA website:







The following quote is courtesy of Google Books. I have not been able to define the publication date, other than that it's from 1904. It might well be using the aforementioned Scientific American issue as its source.

Quote:

SCIENCE ABSTRACTS Page 1083
by Institution of Electrical Engineers, 1904

Illustrations are given of the motor-driven aeroplane designed by RH Botts. The machine is a combination of a circular aeroplane with two sets of two propellers, the screws of each set working in opposite directions, by which neutralising properties are said to be obtained which are of importance (?).

The aeroplane itself is circular, 20ft diam., and attached to two hoops, the outer of steel tubing and the inner, 6ft diam., of wood. In the centre a bamboo framework supports the boiler, engines, and the car. One set of screws (upper 5ft 1in. and lower 6ft 2in diam.) is placed above the car, and these run on a vertical axis, the thrust upward in both, though rotating oppositely. Fore and aft of the aeroplane are the other propellers, when are of the fan-wheel type, and 6ft 2in diam., work on a horizontal axis.

There are two engines,each with a cylinder 3in. diam. x 6in. stroke. The boiler has 60sq.ft. of heating surface, but is not further described. A cloth-covered rudder is so pivoted as to be able to be set at any angle either vertical or horizontal. The airship is stated to be intended for the St. Louis competition. Total weight of engines 33 lbs.; of complete apparatus with operator (of weight not stated, 214 lbs)
Cheers,
Paul

Last edited by aerohydro; 25 October 2009 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 24 October 2009, 09:36 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Answer to the ID Challenge: the Botts' Flying Machine (of 1904?)

Scoreboard at the end of Challenge #130:
23.60 Rbailey
18.20 Varese2002
15.80 aerohydro
12.20 Aquilius
8.20 Rod_Filan
8.00 richard B
7.30 matte_kudasai
6.00 Cruze
6.00 Flamingo
6.00 YavorD
5.50 Airarticles
**************
(those above this section must wait 12 hours before answering,
those below - and everyone else - may answer immediately)
**************
3.30 berman
3.00 Lodzermensch
3.00 joegertler
2.00 sobrien
2.00 Doc
1.10 Froggy
1.00 paolomiana
0.40 Wind In The Wires
0.20 Willi Von Klugermann
0.20 EricGoedkoop
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Old 24 October 2009, 09:47 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aerohydro
Who's a grouchy Gus then?
Not at all, just having some fun at your expense. But you did just prove me right.
Quote:
As to the exact dating of the Botts Airship and when it was actually tested , one can take your pick of different options. One part of the PRHA website quotes January 1903, the This Point in Time booklet says late in 1903, the PRHA newsletter articles simply has it as being "sometime in 1903".

I am, however, plumping for 1904. This is because of the only comtemporary accounts I've found about the Bott's Flying Machine date from 1904. One of the accounts appeared in the September 10, 1904 issue of Scientific American. I have not been able to obtain a copy of the actual article, so do not know if the text could cast more light on the matter for us.
Once I found that there was a SciAm article in Sept. 1904, I thought then that you must have had it and that's where the Nicholl Nob test-flight date of 1904 came from. I was considering that a flight attempt that ended with the machine's destruction, and then an piece on it appearing in SciAm over a year and a half later seemed a little odd. However, I think I'll reserve judgment on exactly what happened when, until I read that article. It's not like I haven't been wrong before...

Good work here Paul. I'll certainly plow through it all.
-
Cheers
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Old 24 October 2009, 09:56 PM   #26 (permalink)
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I forgot to mention that there is an album, containing seven photographs of the Botts' Flying Machine, in one of the libraries of the UC Berkeley:
Online Archive of California
Cheers,
Paul
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Old 24 October 2009, 10:02 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
...album, containing seven photographs of the Botts' Flying Machine, in one of the libraries of the UC Berkeley
I found that too. Like the Morrell airship...again...I feel like a kid being taken to the shoe store to try on cowboy boots and having to walk out empty-handed!
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Old 24 October 2009, 11:35 PM   #28 (permalink)
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The first patent picture is interesting. It looks as if he was trying to generate lift by drawing air across the curved surface of the umbrella.
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Old 25 October 2009, 06:42 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Another comment:

I quite like steampunk aesthetic, and I suspect that the Botts Flying Machine would fit into that imaginary world quite well. It's quite a small compact design, but full of interesting shapes and struts. Whatever failings Bott's real-world design may have had, in the steampunk world, the machine's plethora of whirling rotors and hissing steam engine parts would more than make up for that.

This 20th Century flying machine is deserving of a good, old-fashioned, 21st Century, 19th Century steampunk makeover.

Cheers,
Paul

Last edited by aerohydro; 26 October 2009 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 26 October 2009, 01:19 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod_Filan View Post
I was wrong, it was the different spellings of the towns/cities that I found. My guess is Ján Bahýľ is Slovakian and Bahily János is Hungarian, but maybe someone will confirm that before this Challenge ends.

In the meantime I better keep looking for the ID of your Challenge pic.
-
Cheers
I see you have been very busy together with Paul in exotic far-off aviation history. Bahily was living in the multicultural Austro-hungarian empire during his whole life (he died in 1916). Given that reality he is known under different names in German and other languages.

Johann Bahily or (even) Johann von Bahily in German

Bahily János (Hungarian, who set the family name first)

Ján Bahýl' (Slovakian)

The German name can be seen on a contemporary picture where pieces of the machine are marked by letters to explain it. Buhaly is in the 'cockpit' of the machine.



The Hungarian name can be seen on the Hungarian patent he had obtained for his invention.



Today it seems Slovakia (Slovenská republika) claims the property of Bahily and his inventions, claiming that this AVION flew a length of 1500 meter at a height of 4 meter in 1905. It is said this flight was authenticated by an international organization, unfortunately it is not told which one

But Bahily was sure an original inventor, little publicized in the literature.

Cheers

Kees
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Last edited by Varese2002; 26 October 2009 at 01:42 PM.
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