Chuhachi Ninomiya
1866 - 1915

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Chuhachi Ninomiya

Chuhachi Ninomiya

Chuhachi Ninomiya began experimenting with kites in the 1870's on his home island of Shikoku, Japan. He became well-known for his kites, some of which incorporated mechanical devices, and he sold many of them. In the spring of 1891 Ninomiya built and flew a very-well designed rubber band powered model monoplane. By 1893 he had reportedly settled on a design for a powered aeroplane, the "Tamamushi" ("Jewel Beetle"), capable of carrying an operator. The "Tamamushi" was to have a pusher propeller, externally braced gull-type wings and smaller half-wings below the central structure, probably intended as control devices. This was a well-conceived design for the time, and marks Ninomiya as a very talented aeronautical designer. Ninomiya had planned to contruct the aeroplane, but lack of funds and service in the Imperial Japanese Army intervened. In 1898 he left the army. Ten years later he was still gathering the funds and equipment necessary to build his "Tamamushi" when he learned that the Wright brothers were publicly demonstrating their Wright 1907 Model Biplane. He then stopped all work on his aeroplane.

Chuhachi Ninomiya's Rubber Band Powered Model Aeroplanes - ca. 1893
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In 1915 Chuhachi Ninomiya founded the Ninomiya Hiko ("Flight") Shrine as a place of prayer and remembrance for those who die in aeroplane accidents.