Plane took off as per normal . The conveyor going backwards just meant the wheels were spinning twice the normal speed , but because the wheels have almost no friction , they didnt affect the ability of the aircraft to accelerate to flying speed . The pilot thought the aircraft would just sit there and not move ( which it would have ,IF it were driven by the wheels ).
I forwarded earlier postings to Gordon Ogilvie,author of "The Riddle Of Richard Pearse". He states that he no longer follows aviation forums but has responded to the observations of Errol Martyn and others.
Gordon Ogilvie comments on Pearse & Mythbusters Correspondence: April 2011 [Points dealt with as they occur]
• It’s futile trying to test ‘Pearse’s 1903 aircraft design’. Geoff Rodliffe’s ‘replica’ is a hypothetical reconstruction only. Nobody knows for sure what Pearse’s first aircraft looked like; moreover he kept modifying the design, hence the varying contemporary descriptions of its appearance. The patent drawing, probably not done by Pearse, is not meant to be to scale. Its purpose is to show particular design features Pearse wished to patent. Testing the ‘replica’ will prove nothing. • I hope Errol Martyn is not meaning to include me in the ‘imaginative rubbish being promoted about Pearse. • I look forward to seeing his evidence for the statement that Pearse ‘as at 31 December had not got as far as even manufacturing the first part of his first machine’ etc. Does this include his 2-cylinder engine which he told a neighbour he’d started working on during the Boer War (Oct 1899-May 1902)? • I presume the ‘hopping off the ground’ Errol mentions is taken from the Otago Witness report of 1 December 1909, which also notes that he’d been working on this aircraft for ‘five long years’ (ie since 1904). The reporter’s description (doubtless assisted by Pearse himself) doesn’t much resemble the version depicted in the patent drawing, nor the machine eyewitnesses describe as featuring in his earlier flight experiments, nor the machine Pearse described in his two published letters (1915 & 1928). • Errol makes much of ‘fallibility of memory’ in relation to the 1975 filming of Pearse and the horse-towing-the-plane incident. The anecdote’s purpose was to describe how the ‘replica’ became airborne, not to specify any distance covered. I was picnicking with my family well to the rear of the action, seeing it all end-on. No trouble seeing it take off, but with Geoff Rodliffe some place else, distance would always be problematic, even if it mattered, which it didn’t. The account in my 2003 edition of The Riddle of Richard Pearse (p206) doesn’t even mention distance. • Incidentally, eyewitness estimates of Pearse’s first public ‘long-hop’ (p57), cover quite a range as far as distance goes. For a similar reason. Witnesses were seeing the event from several different directions and distances. Natural and obvious. I have always gone for the most conservative distances for safety’s sake. • Errol describes me as Geoff Rodliffe’s ‘friend’, as if we were in some sort of conspiracy together. He is my friend, as I hope Errol is. But there are all kinds of matters relating to Geoff’s ‘replica’ and his claims for Pearse that we have always disagreed on. You only have to examine my letters to him and to MOTAT, covering some forty years, for that to be quite clear. I have corresponded as a friend with scores of historians, journalists, researchers etc and never a cross word anywhere – except when personally abused by one Aucklander. • I object to seeing Bolt & Cederman being disparaged. The work they did, in tracking down and interviewing as many witnesses as possible of Pearse and his work at Waitohi, was absolutely invaluable. Bolt was the most experienced and celebrated NZ aviator of his age. He was honest, courteous, perceptive & fair-minded. He asked the (mostly) elderly witnesses questions they could understand. He was anxious to discover exactly what they had seen, particularly if Pearse had become airborne or not, where, how and when. If they gave a date, he would always ask how they came by it. He did not need to be an ‘aviation historian’ to do any of this. • Nor do you have to be a rocket scientist to interview people. I have written 22 books and booklets (history and biography) and about 200 features, with lots of interviewing along with the usual research and archival methods. I know of Daniel Schacter and his ‘Seven Sins of Memory’ and could probably add a couple more to his list. A comment I got early on from Charles Gibbs-Smith, which I’ve always heeded closely, was that people rarely remember past events ‘without prejudice’. You also have liars and publicity-seekers. Schacter was not around when I began investigating Pearse in the late-1960s and interviewing folk who had known him. But I have never accepted recollections without cross-checking, taking into account the age and known reliability of the witness. I’ve done more interview work than most self-proclaimed aviation (and automotive) historians would ever dream about. I believe I usually get the balance right. If I don’t, it’s not through lack of trying. • If the new evidence Errol write about relates to another 1909 newspaper account, I only hope he hasn’t been sucked in by the common belief that if it isn’t in the newspapers it hasn’t happened. Pearse seemingly warned off the press early on, after some cheap crack about the state of his (much-neglected) farm. In the early 1900s it was also a race to be ‘first to fly’, hence Pearse’s secrecy, and other aviators weren’t giving anything away either. Papers don’t always get onto a good story anyway. While Pearse was working on his Utility Plane at Woolston, c.1930-50, the whole neighbourhood seemed to know he was building a plane in his garage; but not one newspaper enquiry or account appeared, as far as I’m able to discover. And for much of that time there were three major papers in town: The Press, Lyttelton Times and Star Sun. • A final comment on eyewitness testimony. I’ve had some valuable and testing experiences in this field, quite apart from the Pearse investigation. In the course of writing the 150th Jubilee History of Ballantynes, I interviewed scores of witnesses and survivors of the tragic 1947 fire. Though it was 55 years after the event, memories were razor sharp, so horrific was the ingrained experience. I could check what was said to me against the voluminous evidence given at the Enquiry and other documentary evidence to which I had access. Nothing I ultimately published was ever questioned. I’ve also helped my wife, during the 1980s, to interview WWI survivors on behalf of British war historian, Lyn Macdonald. Some 60 years after the event -- and once more we could check recollections against documentary evidence -- it was hard to fault what was remembered. • In the 2003 edition of TRORP (P252) I list the names of 37 witnesses, interviewed by one investigator or another, who had known Pearse at Waitohi. Twenty-one of them stated, often in sworn affidavits, that they saw Pearse airborne on at least one occasion. (Another 22 are listed who supplied supplementary information about Pearse and his family.) You can say what you like about the ‘sins of memory’ – misattribution, suggestibility, bias etc. But 21 is too high a figure for all of them to be misled, misinformed, over-imaginative, lying or stupid. • Some of their memories, like those of Mrs Louie Johnson, were quite explicit: ‘As soon as it got into the air it started pitching rather badly and the climb was very slow. The aeroplane then veered to the left and landed on top of the hedge.’ She left the district for Rosewell in 1904. Whatever she witnessed had to have happened before then. • I did a lot of checking with Education Board, Lands & Survey, hospital, National Archives, BD&M, weather, Dept of Agriculture, newspaper, road board and other records to pinpoint the observations/memories of witnesses. In several other cases, witnesses had left the district by the end of 1903 and couldn’t have seen what they did after that point. Even Gibbs-Smith has conceded that in view of these “cut-off” points, it would seem that witnesses must have seen “something” happening in 1903, even when Pearse himself had twice given 1904 in his letters. Perhaps he had one of Schacter’s memory problems! • As for prejudice or bias, this also works against Pearse. Some witnesses didn’t even like the man, considering him to be a misguided nutter. What they said was scarcely going to be biased in his favour. • It’s sometimes said that the witnesses might have got together to discuss what they saw and collaborated. Hardly likely. By the time Bolt, Rodliffe and I got to interviewing them, they were dispersed in all directions, some to the North Island. Only a handful were still left in Waitohi. • It is significant that none of the Pearse critics/bashers have contributed anything fresh to the Pearse investigation. One of them, Tony Elworthy told me himself that he went over all the ground I’d covered, but failed to discover anything new. All they have done is to re-shuffle and re-interpret material dug up for them (sometimes literally) by earlier investigators. • I have said from the outset that Pearse didn’t ‘fly’ in any acceptable sense and didn’t ‘beat the Wright Brothers to fly’. But I am convinced that he became airborne a number of times at Waitohi – irrespective of when -- and even if Errol Martyn and others are persuaded that 1909 is the best date we can be sure of, that matters little to me. He is still in the vanguard of those trying to achieve powered flight in this country and -- especially when you take account of his second aircraft and all his other inventions – he remains a pioneer inventor to be admired rather than scoffed at. Gordon Ogilvie
Post by errolmartyn on Apr 19, 2011 16:29:49 GMT 12
Excerpt from my email to Gordon Ogilvie in response:
Thanks for the attachments. All that I now need is that 25th hour in the day during which to examine them in detail!
I did quickly note your defence of Bolt as an historian, however. My reading of Bolt’s unpublished (various publishers turned it down) autobiographical history of New Zealand aviation, and interviews and correspondence with his close life-long friend Bill Angus . . . convinces me that, though convincing on technical matters (his area of expertise) it is stretching the case to claim that he should be described as an aviation historian. His MS is often wrong and/or non-specific regarding dates, and spelling of names, and contrary to the evidence claims sole ownership of the pre-WWI gliders flown off Cashmere hills.
Not time here to respond to all of your comments, though my ‘et al’ (i.e., ‘and others’, not all others!) reference did not necessarily include your good self. . . .
I guess you will just have to be patient and await the appearance of the book."
Author: Swift to the Sky – New Zealand’s Military Aviation History Author/publisher: For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 & A Passion For Flight - New Zealand aviation before the Great War. Publisher of Gp Capt C M Hanson’s By Such Deeds - Honours and Awards in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, 1923-1999
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 19, 2011 18:48:52 GMT 12
It's always interesting to read such debates as this, where historical events are being discussed. Thanks Gordon for the input you've provided. It'll be interesting to see your book Errol.
Another book that is anticipated is the one that's coming soon (apparently) which claims that the operation to breach the walls of the Amiens prison to release Resistance members who were to be executed, which No. 487 (NZ) Squadron was involved in, is all a cover up for something else. They won't say what their "new" eveidence is either. It's a great shame to debunk such a famous raid, so i hope they ahve really got something big there, and have done their research properly.
Wild and inaccurate statements have been publicised from time to time concerning Richard Pearse's achievements in the field of aviation. However. no responsible researcher has ever claimed that he achieved fully controlled flight before the Wright brothers, or indeed at any time. To attain fully controlled flight a pilot would have to be able to get his plane into the air, fly it on a chosen course and land it at a predetermined destination. Obviously Pearse's short "hops" or "flights", whilst they established the fact that he could readily become airborne, did not come within this category, but neither, for that matter, did the first powered flights of the Wright brothers in December 1903. The Wiight brothers, however, had the resources necessary to continue their experimentation until they achieved fully controlled flight.
BIG SNIP of lots of witness reports.
Note: Approximately half of the statements were made by witnesses who claimed to have seen the Pearse plane leave the ground. Some saw more than one flight. Most of these accounts were recorded by aviation experts, George Bolt, Harold Cederman and other reliable researchers. Of the remaining accounts some were not first-hand but were statements made by relatives or friends of the persons who saw the flights, and others gave descriptions of the aircraft in the paddock or on the hedge and recalled incidents connected with Pearse's activities.
This was actually written by Geoffrey Rodliffe under the title Research.
Post by Parrotfish on Apr 23, 2011 11:44:03 GMT 12
What the hell are you going on about? You need to re-read the thread I think (or I do). Dave did not make that post and the individual who did gave full credit by providing the the link to the article at the start of their post. No other claims were made or I'm sure implied.
What are you on man???
It's not yours until the little infantry guy stands on it.
Chris, the original post of 8th April (which was in fact posted by forum member "Kiwithrottlejockey" - not Dave Homewood!) was quite obviously taken from the website highlighted at the beginning of the text, which was authored by Geoffrey Rodliffe.
I think you're are drawing a pretty long bow claiming that someone else is trying to claim authorship of Rodliffe's article, but if it helps to save further confusion, I will now edit the original post to include Rodliffe's name in the post.
Last Edit: Apr 23, 2011 18:15:10 GMT 12 by corsair67
Gordon Ogilvie's research is impressive, but it fails in many ways to meet the methodological rigour of a trained historian. Geoff Rodliffe likewise offers a compelling historical narrative of the evidence but neglects much of the historical context and broad developments of early aviation and engineering in his treatment.
Current works on Pearse are not academic. Both Ogilvie and Rodliffe give passing mention to leading authorities on early aviation, which highlights the difference between amateur and professional research. In a professional study the opposing or alternative positions are given close treatement, in order to orient the authors own work in relation to relevant literature in the field of study. Neither Ogilvie nor Rodliffe offer an adequate examination of relevant authorities on early aviation. For example both Ogilvie and Rodliffe offer only fleeting and dismissive responses to criticism of Bolt's research by leading historian of early aviation Sir Charles Gibbs-Smith.
The focus of Ogilvie and Rodliffe’s work is also limited to basic document analysis and rudimentary interpretation that lacks contextual analysis and professional methodology. For example, while there is no record that Pearse ever communicated with his aviation contemporaries, he did have access to aviation literature. Neither Ogilive nor Rodliffe offer a sufficient study of the aviation literature available during the early years of the twentieth century. Both authors speculate on a few historical works Pearse may have had access, and note that Pearse read Scientific American. Neither author offer the reader an analysis of the content within the range of literature available. Such an analysis would give insight into the ideas and information Pearse had access too, and how it shaped his own ideas or differed from what he had read. Rather, Ogilvie and Rodliffe unintentionally overlook such analysis, and in doing so exaggerate Pearse's “genius” as totally independent.
The treatment of witnesses is done in a legalistic manner i.e. sworn statements such as affidavits that are motivated by the establishment of “fact” and “responsibility” for events in legal terms. Where as a professional historian would seek to understand the historical perspective of the individual witness in order to assess the significance of the witness's viewpoint/statements. Although the collected witness accounts about Pearse are important, their unreliability make them of secondary value to documents produced by Pearse himself (letters to the Christchurch Star and Dunedin Evening Star, and his patents).
Finally, academic historians are more interested in the historical significance of what past individuals did, rather than attempting to establish the retrospective and arbitrary values such as "first" to do such-and-such. Even if Pearse had flown before anyone else, it is of little significance because it did not have any impact. Ogilvie attempts to explain away Pearse's lack of impact through supposed community hostility and Pearse's reclusive nature, but to Rodliffe's credit Pearse is shown to not have been a secretive recluse in his early years as Ogilvie portrays him.
The significance of Pearse in aviation history needs to be treated in relation to other early pioneers i.e. what are the similarities and differences between Pearse and others in the early twentieth century. Neither Ogilvie nor Rodliffe give sufficient attention to personalities and events on a global scale. And because of that, the supposed “isolation” of Pearse is exaggerated in the narrative by a lack of attention to what else was happening in the world.