George Cayley
Felix du Temple
balloons and airships
Clément Ader
Jean-Marie Le Bris
Butler and Edwards
Jules Henri Giffard
Lawrence Hargrave
Etienne-Jules Marey
Thomas William Moy
Alexandr Mozhaisky
Charles Renard
Victor Tatin
Nikolaj Teleshov
Thomas Walker
John Wise
Richard Pearse
Henson and Stringfellow
Alphonse Penaud
Francis Wenham
Otto Lilienthal
Pilcher and Chanute
Samuel Langley
Horatio Phillips
was Herring the first to fly?

with many thanks to Frank Didik

For 100 years, most people have assumed that the Wright Brothers were the first people to build and fly the first manned, heavier then air, plane. A recent investigation of early publications, however, seems to indicate that A. M. Herring made the first manned powered flight in 1899, four years before the famous Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk. According to the May 17, 1899 issue of the Horseless Age, A. M. Herring was well known in the field of aviation and is a designer of lightweight aircraft engines and is also a bicycle designer. Further, it is clear from the published photograph of A.M. Herrings 1899 aircraft that the Wright Brothers plane looks almost the same. Interestingly, the Herring plane seems to have controls that the Wright Brothers adapted 4 years later on their first plane. Further the May 17, 1899 issue of this magazine also refers to the May 1897 issue (which sadly is not available to this author) which apparently also discusses A. M. Herring's aircraft innovations. Since the Horseless Age was the leading authority on automotive and personal transportation news, it is possible that the Wright Brothers read about A. M. Herrings invention.

The May 17, 1899 issue of The Horseless Age describes A. M. Herring's airplane and states that he is the first man to fly. The magazine was of a high standard and the article should be considered credible. (Click to enlarge)

The June 7, 1899 issue of "The Horseless Age" discusses A.M. Herrings new lightweight gasoline engines. Notice that the design of the propellers. (Click to enlarge)

The Horseless Age magazine was the first automotive magazine in the United States and was supported by the upper crust of American Society. The magazine was very expensive for the time and provided the latest information and innovations to automobile owners and automobile manufacturers. Today, very few issues of the Horseless Age remain, however almost all of our knowledge on early automobiles comes from this magazine. Copies of this magazine are available in a handful of libraries in the United States including the Detroit public library, the Library of Congress and perhaps others. Information contained in this magazine must be considered very credible. It is interesting to note that contrary to today's belief, most people at the turn of the century fully believed that manned aircraft would be produced in a matter of time. The magazine, while speculating in "horseless carriages" (automobiles), did periodically report about new innovations in aviation and light weight motor technology.

The caption for this photograph, published in the May 17, 1899 issue of The Horseless Age, states: "A.M. Herrings compressed air flying machine. First motor machine to successfully carry an operator in free flight"