1883 Montgomery Glider (replica)
The Western Museum of Flight's 1883 Montgomery
Glider is an exact replica of the one designed, built, and flown
by John J. Montgomery in 1883. This aircraft is notable
for being the first aircraft incorporating flight controls and
a shaped airfoil. On 28 August 1883, John J. Montgomery was reported
to have flown his craft for a distance of 600 feet on its first
flight. By moving the control level for the movable tail surface,
he could control its flight to take advantage of wind conditions.
(Photo above of John J. Montgomery 1881) The flight occurred
at Otay Mesa near San Diego, California. This was the first reported
instance of "controlled" flight of a "heavier
than air" craft.
Over the next 10 years, John J. Montgomery (who had a Master
of Science degree) continued to study the lift effects of various
airfoil designs. In 1894, his design and experimental results
were published in summary form in Octave Chanute's "Progress
in Flying". The Wright Brothers read this book.
John J. Montgomery continued to focus on the stability
and control of aircraft using empowered configurations. He was
the first person to use the term "aero plane" and wrote
a booklet with that title. He was granted the first "aero
plane" patent in 1906. (Photo right of John J. Montgomery
In 1910, John J. Montgomery entered into an agreement
with Victor Loughead (later Lockheed) to build a powered aircraft.
John Montgomery was to provide the airframe and Loughead the
engine. They agreed that John Montgomery would perfect the airframe
by building a high wing monoplane with landing gear, a modem-looking
yoke control stick, and a bucket-type seat. John J. Montgomery
died on 17 October 1911, after this aircraft crashed on its maiden
flight due to a sudden pitch up. His last words were, "How
is the machine?"
Norman Ward of El Centro, California, reconstructed the 1883
Montgomery Glider and won an award with it in September 1973.
This replica was destroyed in the San Diego Aero-Space Museum
fire in February 1978. Ward again reconstructed a replica, which
was donated to the Western Museum of Flight in April 1985.
1883 Montgomery Glider Specifications
Manufacturer John J. Montgomery (1883), Norman Ward (replica)
Wing Span Approximately 23.1 feet
Overall Length Approximately 10.3 feet
Overall Height Approximately 6.3 feet
Weight 40 pounds
Power plant None