William Frost
1848 - 1935

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William Frost's first interest in flying was sparked when, in 1876, he was reportedly lifted into the air by a strong wind while carrying a large wooden board. By the 1890's he was experimenting with rather strange methods of going aloft, running, it is said, attached to a large sheet of galvanized tin. He applied for a patent on his design for a flying machine in August of 1895. The device was described as powered by hand-cranked fans, controlled by a combination of a tilting surface and "rudders" at each end. The machine was made buoyant by a hydrogen-filled chamber which could be tilted to guide the machine up or down. Wings were attached to the sides of the device. He reportedly was able to go aloft in his combination gas balloon and glider flying machine during the summer of 1896 at Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, Wales. The machine was afterwards apparently destroyed in a high wind. An attempt to secure a copy of the patent with Frost's drawing of his flying machine has thus far been unsuccessful.

If Frost actually built the machine, as it appears he did, it seems probable that Frost was able to become airborne in his buoyant device, although the practical utility of his design is open to question. William Frost should be recognized, however, as one of the legion of aerial experimenters who worked in relative obscurity, testing and refining their own ideas of the best method for going aloft. The efforts of these creative, dedicated and often-times isolated and ridiculed devotees of aeronautics ought not be forgotten.