I suppose I should bring up the awful, Dr. William Whitney Christmas, known about, by many here I am sure... the "inventor" of the execrable Bullet.
https://www.airspacemag.com/history-of- ... 48/?page=2
No one tells this story better than William Christmas himself. Writing to the U.S. Air Force’s General Carl Spaatz on September 25, 1947, Christmas laid out his credentials. “My basic discoveries and inventions has [sic] made the aviation industry what it is today.” He claimed sole credit for the aileron, “the most important invention in aviation,” among 400 other inventions. After declaring that “the present design of planes is ALL WRONG,” he finally got to his request, which was to be commissioned by the Air Force “to design the FASTEST PLANE in the world.” His justification was that he’d done it before, in 1918, with the Christmas Bullet. (He did not reveal that each time it had flown, the pilot had been killed.)
Born in 1865 in North Carolina, Christmas came to Washington, D.C., to conclude his medical studies. He became fascinated with flight, and said he learned everything he needed to know from the study of birds. On March 6, 1908, according to Christmas and several witnesses, he flew a powered machine in Falls Church, Virginia. He formed the Christmas Aeroplane Company in 1910. A year later, one of his designs flew in College Park, Maryland, and in 1912, he exhibited at the New York Aero Show.
After proposing a giant bomber to the military in 1915, Christmas began work on the Bullet. He was convinced that his revolutionary “flexible wing” concept would result in the fastest aircraft ever built. The wing spars were made from “sawmill blade steel” and designed to flex upward the faster the airplane went. With thoroughly convinced investors behind him, Christmas negotiated a contract with Continental Aircraft to manufacture two airplanes. Ignoring the concerns of the Continental engineers, Christmas authorized two test flights; in both, the wings failed. Pilot Cuthbert Mills landed hard and was burned to death. Allington Jolly spun in when the wing twisted off; he also died. Christmas blamed the pilots and unnamed saboteurs.
Was Christmas ever ahead of his time? He insisted that he was the sole authority for his concepts, which were similar to those of the leading designers. The Bullet roughly resembles the Dayton-Wright RB-1 racer—an airplane widely considered revolutionary—which flew two years later. He proposed the gigantic Christmas Supertransport passenger airplane, which was not unlike those actually flown by Hugo Junkers and other contemporaries. After the Bullet, none of Christmas’ airplanes was ever built.
Still, his claims of supreme aeronautical achievement got him attention. By 1942, the Supertransport had morphed into the 200,000-pound, all-wood Christmas Battleplane. Following a letter from Christmas, U.S. Senator Robert Reynolds of North Carolina directed George Lewis of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to conduct wind tunnel tests and begin production. When Lewis replied that it would take 1,000 engineers a year and a half to develop a prototype in the middle of a war, Reynolds backed away. Christmas did not.
His 1947 letter to Spaatz was typical. The “fastest plane” he proposed would indeed be fast: Mach 0.92. Three weeks from the letter’s date, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Christmas died in 1960 at the age of 95, still predicting the future, still making claims.
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