r-pearse

Interesting stamp tonight because of the man it commemorates. Richard William Pearse.  He was a New Zealand farmer and inventor who performed pioneering experiments in aviation.

It is claimed Pearse flew and landed a powered heavier-than-air machine on 31 March 1903, some nine months before the Wright brothers flew their aircraft. The documentary evidence to support such a claim remains open to interpretation, and Pearse did not develop his aircraft to the same degree as the Wright brothers.  Pearse himself never made such claims, and in an interview he gave to the Timaru Post in 1909 only claimed he did not “attempt anything practical…until 1904”.

Pearse made several attempts to fly in 1901, but due to insufficient engine power he achieved no more than brief hops. The following year he redesigned his engine to incorporate double-ended cylinders with two pistons each.  Researchers recovered components of his engine (including cylinders made from cast-iron drainpipes) from rubbish dumps in 1963. Replicas of the 1903 engine suggest that it could produce about 15 hp.

Verifiable eyewitnesses describe Pearse crashing into a hedge on two separate occasions during 1903. His monoplane must have risen to a height of at least three metres on each occasion.  Good evidence exists that on 31 March 1903 that Pearse achieved a powered, though poorly controlled, flight of several hundred metres.

What would he think today if he could see our 777s and A380s for example taking off and flying for as many hours as they do?

Enjoy your stamps and flying,   Michael       www.cddstamps.com

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