Langley Aerodrome Number 5 (reproduction)

Reproduction of the Langley Aerodrome Number 5, made expressly for exhibition at Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915, by the staff of the Smithsonian U.S. National Museum. The history of the original Langely Aerodrome Number 5 of 1896 is as follows:

Samuel Pierpont Langley became the third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1887. In 1891, he began experiments with large, tandem-winged models powered by small steam and gasoline engines he called aerodromes. After several failures with designs that were too fragile and under-powered to sustain themselves, Langley had his first genuine success on May 6, 1896, with his Aerodrome Number 5. It made the world's first successful flight of an unpiloted, engine-driven, heavier-than-air craft of substantial size. It was launched from a spring-actuated catapult mounted on top of a houseboat on the Potomac River near Quantico, Virginia. Two flights were made on May 6, one of 1,005 m (3,300 ft) and a second of 700 m (2,300 ft), at a speed of approximately 40 kph (25 mph). On both occasions, the Aerodrome Number 5 landed in the water, as planned, because, in order to save weight, it was not equipped with landing gear.