Edson Fessenden Gallaudet
1871 - 1945

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Please Note: Tom Gallaudet, Edson F. Gallaudet's grandson, has generously
provided the images (with the exception of the bottom-most image) posted on this page.

Edson F. Gallaudet

Edson F. Gallaudet was inspired to pursue aeronautical matters by the work of Samuel P. Langley, whose Aerodromes had been widely publicized. Gallaudet received a doctorate degree in 1896, and became a physics instructor at Yale University in 1897. The following year, 1898, Gallaudet designed and built a large biplane kite with tapered warping wings, which were controlled by a system of gears and rods. His stated purpose for the warping wings (set at a dihedral angle) was to provide a means of "... controlling the lateral position of the machine in the air..." The Gallaudet "Hydro-Bike" kite also was fitted with a single surface tail and two pontoon-type floats. The kite had a wingspan of about 11 1/2 feet, and a length of just over 8 feet. His preliminary tests of the kite were to be the final tests, for he was told by his superiors at Yale that as a physics instructor at Yale he should not be experimenting with aeronautical devices.

Edson F. Gallaudet's Hydro-Bike
Front-view photograph of Edson F. Gallaudet's "Hydro-Bike" - 1898

Edson F. Gallaudet's Hydro-Bike
End-view photograph of Edson F. Gallaudet's "Hydro-Bike" showing opposed warping
of opposite outer wing panels for lateral control- 1898

Edson Gallaudet did not patent his system of wing warping for lateral control of flying machines and so the wing warping method of lateral control was open for subsequent investigators. Had he patented the notion of wing warping for lateral control, and sought to enforce his patent, it would have presented a serious impediment to Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright's use of wing warping on their machines. The Gallaudet "Hydro-Bike" of 1898 is currently on exhibit in the Early Flight Gallery at the National Air & Space Museum.

Edson F. Gallaudet was very active early during the pre-WWI period, and designed, built and flew a number of very interesting aeroplanes, including the legendary Gallaudet Bullet. For information concerning his later (post Wright brothers) aeronautical work, please link to the superb Aerofiles web site, or link directly to the Aerofiles' page which contains information on Edson Gallaudet.

Edson F. Gallaudet - ca. 1920
Edson F. Gallaudet - ca. 1920