John Joseph Montgomery
1883 Montgomery Glider

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1883 Montgomery Glider (replica)

The Western Museum of Flight's 1883 Montgomery Glider is an exact replica of the one designed, built, and flown by John J. Montgomery in 1883. This aircraft is notable for being the first aircraft incorporating flight controls and a shaped airfoil. On 28 August 1883, John J. Montgomery was reported to have flown his craft for a distance of 600 feet on its first flight. By moving the control level for the movable tail surface, he could control its flight to take advantage of wind conditions. (Photo above of John J. Montgomery 1881) The flight occurred at Otay Mesa near San Diego, California. This was the first reported instance of "controlled" flight of a "heavier than air" craft.
Over the next 10 years, John J. Montgomery (who had a Master of Science degree) continued to study the lift effects of various airfoil designs. In 1894, his design and experimental results were published in summary form in Octave Chanute's "Progress in Flying". The Wright Brothers read this book.

John J. Montgomery continued to focus on the stability and control of aircraft using empowered configurations. He was the first person to use the term "aero plane" and wrote a booklet with that title. He was granted the first "aero plane" patent in 1906. (Photo right of John J. Montgomery 1905)

In 1910, John J. Montgomery entered into an agreement with Victor Loughead (later Lockheed) to build a powered aircraft. John Montgomery was to provide the airframe and Loughead the engine. They agreed that John Montgomery would perfect the airframe by building a high wing monoplane with landing gear, a modem-looking yoke control stick, and a bucket-type seat. John J. Montgomery died on 17 October 1911, after this aircraft crashed on its maiden flight due to a sudden pitch up. His last words were, "How is the machine?"

Norman Ward of El Centro, California, reconstructed the 1883 Montgomery Glider and won an award with it in September 1973. This replica was destroyed in the San Diego Aero-Space Museum fire in February 1978. Ward again reconstructed a replica, which was donated to the Western Museum of Flight in April 1985.

1883 Montgomery Glider Specifications
Manufacturer John J. Montgomery (1883), Norman Ward (replica)
Crew: Pilot
Wing Span Approximately 23.1 feet
Overall Length Approximately 10.3 feet
Overall Height Approximately 6.3 feet
Weight 40 pounds
Power plant None


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