Horatio Frederick Phillips
1845 - 1926

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Horatio F. Phillips

Horatio F. Phillips - ca. 1909


      Horatio F. Phillips, of England, began experimenting with curved lifting surfaces in the 1880's using, in part, a self-designed steam injection wind tunnel which he constructed in 1884. In 1893, he constructed a large device for testing the effective lift of what he termed "sustainers" (airfoils). The "Phillips Flying Machine," as it was known, was 9-1/2 feet tall and about 22 feet long, with 40 lifting surfaces. It was mounted on a circular track 200 feet in diameter. A two-bladed propeller driven by a steam engine pulled the machine around the track.

The Phillips Flying Machine For Testing Aerocurves, Harrow, England - 1893

      The Phillips Flying Machine of 1893 was able to lift its own weight plus 72 pounds (a total of 402 pounds) to a height of some three feet at a speed of about 40 m.p.h. Phillips continued to experiment with wing designs, and built another flying machine test rig in 1902, which had 120 wings and was powered by a gasoline engine. He built his first human-carrying machine, with 20 lifting surfaces, in 1904, and was able to make at least one short hop of 50 feet. His 1907 machine had four banks of 50 wings each and an 8 foot propeller. It was in this machine that Phillips made a powered, although uncontrolled, flight of about 500 feet.

Phillips Patented Aerocurves - 1884 & 1891

      As a result of his experiments, Phillips was able to prove his hypothesis that in a curved wing, where the curvature is greater on the top surface than the bottom surface, the lift is generated primarily by the upper surface. This proof had eluded Sir George Cayley, although he suspected it to be true. Phillips was a pioneer of aerial engineering who took up where Cayley left off and began the systematic evaluation of curved surfaces meant for aerial machines. It's unfortunate that some aviation writers mock the appearance of his machines, for Horatio Phillips' work was of great signifcance.

Thank you to Paul Dunlop for generously providing a correct image of Horatio F. Phillips.
Please be certain to visit Paul Dunlop's excellent MODEL FLYING MACHINES web site.