The technical development of aviation up to 1903


Presentation given in 2001 by Hugh G McCarroll MRAeS, C Eng.

Heavier than air flight is taken for granted today, but it was not so at the dawn of the 20th century. There were plenty of sceptics and doubters. It is hard to imagine now how revolutionary the idea and the reality of flight must have been to people at that time, even though kites and windmills had existed for centuries and birds could be seen flying every day.

The Wright Brothers first powered flight took place on 17 December 1903, 98 years ago this year. Others were getting into the air about that time, but Wilbur and Orville Wright are generally regarded as the first to fly a fully controllable, powered, heavier than air machine.

Many people contributed to the body of knowledge that developed over the centuries, and which was the starting point for Wilbur and Orville Wright when they commenced their experiments in 1899.

This lecture will cover the technical issues addressed over the years, the experiments that established the relationships between the variables and the data that was necessary for the Wright Brothers to be able to design their powered flyer in 1903.

Hugh G McCarroll MRAeS, C Eng.


BE (Mech.) Canterbury University 1967

Work Experience:

Qantas Airways Ltd

Aeronautical Engineer at Mascot Jet base (1968-1977)

Technical Representative in Seattle (1977-1980)

Audit Manager in Sydney Head office (1980-1982)

Engineering Services Manager at Mascot (1982-1984).

Christchurch International Airport

Airport Director, Christchurch Airport Authority (1984-1988)

General Manager Operations, Christchurch International Airport Ltd (1988 – present)

Professional activities

Member of the Society

Past President of the Royal Aeronautical Society NZ Division (1997-1998)

Past Chairman, Canterbury branch

Lecture venues:

Back to News

Copyright © RAeS New Zealand Division, All Rights Reserved