Gallaudet Hydroplane

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Gallaudet hydroplane
National origin United States of America
Manufacturer Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation
Designer Edson Fessenden Gallaudet, H.A. Lewis[1]

The Gallaudet Hydroplane (a.k.a. Gallaudet Wing-Warping Kite or Hydro-Bike) is an early aircraft employing the use of wing-warping for roll control.[2]


The Gallaudet Hydroplane was built in Norwich, Connecticut by Edson Fessenden Gallaudet. The principle of wing-warping was independently applied to this kite/aircraft/glider several years before the Wright Brothers applied it to their Wright Flyer. (along with Jean-Marie LeBris, John J. Montgomery, Clement Ader, D.D. Wells, and Hugo Mattullath).[3][4] The Wrights later applied for a patent on wing-warping, which led to the widespread use of the aileron control method to avoid the Wright's airplane patents. Gallaudet generically employed the name hydroplane to many of his future seaplane designs. In 1908, Gallaudet would form the Gallaudet Engineering Company, (later the Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation). Later hydroplane models were built for the United States Navy.[5]


The 1897 Gallaudet Hydroplane glider featured twin floats, a central pyramidal support frame, and flexible wooden wing ribs (employing wing warping) with fabric-covering.[6][7]

In 1913, Gallaudet filed U.S. Patent# 1,214,536 for the Hydroplane. The single-place open cockpit aircraft featured most of the engine enclosed in the fuselage. The fuselage tapered upwards to the rear with a small attached rudder. A single landing wheel protruded partially from the center of the fuselage for ground landings.[8]

Operational history[edit]

The Gallaudet Hydroplane was on display at the East Hall of the Arts and Industries Building of the Smithsonian Museum.[9]

Test flights for later hydroplanes built for U.S. Navy acceptance were performed at Gales Ferry, Connecticut in 1916.[5]

Specifications (Hydroplane)[edit]

Data from Smithsonian

General characteristics

  • Length: 7 ft (2.1 m)
  • Wingspan: 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
  • Gross weight: 25 lb (11 kg)


See also[edit]

Related development



  1. ^ Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Alumni Association. War Records Committee. Technology's war record: an interpretation of the contribution. p. 704. 
  2. ^ "Flying Machines". Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Tom Couch (September 2009). "Oldies and Oddities: Where Do Ailerons Come From?". Air & Space magazine. 
  4. ^ Harwood, Craig S. and Fogel, Gary B. Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West, University of Oklahoma Press 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Trying Out Norwich Built Hydroplane on the Thames". The News. 3 August 1916. 
  6. ^ "Galludet Glider". Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Washington D.C. Gallaudet". Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  8. ^ United States. Patent Office (6 February 1917). Official gazette of the United States Patent Office, Volume 235. p. 20. 
  9. ^ "Gallaudet Hydroplane". Retrieved 26 December 2011.