Wright Brothers Didn’t Invent the Airplane and Edison Didn’t Invent the Light Bulb
Fox News has an article, Wright brothers flew 2 years after Gustav Whitehead, Researcher Claims, that suggests that Wright brothers did not invent the airplane. The article is correct; the Wright brothers invented the system that allows for controlled, powered flight. Their plane used wing wrapping, but their patent application made it clear that they could use control surfaces (ailerons, elevators, and rudders). Rudders were known before the Wright brothers. The article suggests that Whitehead was the first person to achieve powered flight, but this is clearly incorrect. There were numerous people before Whitehead and the Wright brothers who had achieved powered flight. Others had also understood the need for a rudder, but only the Wright brothers understood the need for all the control surfaces.
I decided to investigate if Whitehead had any unique control surfaces? Since most people do not understand what the Wright brother invented, this information is difficult to come by. But as best as I can tell Whitehead had a rudder and shifted his weight in the aircraft to control the plane. This was not unique when Whitehead undertook his flight. In other words Whitehead’s flight was a demonstration of what was known, not an invention.
This article is typical of the ignorance in the debate about invention and patents.
For another example of this ignorance see Did Edison Invent the Light Bulb?
I would like to believe these are innocent mistakes – but I don’t. I think they are a coordinated attack on the patent system and individual inventors. The goal of this attack is to suggest that no one invents anything and therefore the patent system is unfair and should be eliminated.
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