Wednesdays, 9:40–11:05, Mar. 28–Apr. 4
Instructor: Mark Weinstein
The Wright Brothers flew the first powered aircraft in 1903, but the French were flying on their tail. The French put up the first balloons in the late 1790s and began funding research for the first military aircraft in 1890. They were not successful then, but continued funding research and invited the Wright brothers to France in 1908 to demonstrate their aircraft and negotiate a construction contract. From 1908 on, the French continued to work with aircraft manufacturers with varying success. By the start of World War I, the French had the world’s largest air force with 263 aircraft. The Europeans abandoned most Wright aircraft features and quickly developed the designs, aviation terms, shapes, and controls of what we now consider the modern airplane. The presentation will trace many early French aviation pioneers and their research, designs, models, and aircraft production.
Mark Weinstein is a retired electrical engineer and a docent at both Smithsonian Air and Space Museums. He started building models when he was 10 and continued his avid interest in aviation and intelligence through a career in the active and reserve Air Force, and then as part of the military-industrial complex. In his wild youth and single days he flew a Piper Tri-Pacer. Weinstein has been an OLLI member for 10 years.