www.recumbents.com - A visualization query
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 A visualization query
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Parpar1836
Starting Member

USA
1 Posts

Posted - 08/29/2017 :  12:14:41  Show Profile  Visit Parpar1836's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I apologize in advance if this query is off-topic. I already got a negative response from CIVL/FAI. I registered and posted on IHPVA yesterday, but there's more action in this forum, so I figured I'd ask.

On July 8, 1909, Walter Asbury Zelch (1880-1945) of Pittsburgh, age 23, flew (or glided) a bicycle-propelled "aeroplane" across the valley between Mt. Washington and Duquesne Heights. The aeroplane had canvas wings, 5 feet wide and 22 feet long. One revolution of the two pedals made the propeller rotate four times. Zelch steered the aeroplane, which was decribed as looking like a bicycle with wings, by the handlebar. He got the aeroplane aloft and glided across the valley, but, in a moment of excitement, turned the handlebar in the wrong direction, causing the aeroplane to crash into a tree and breaking the bevel wheel. Luckily, Zelch wasn't injured, and said he'd try again. (I haven't found any published record of a subsequent attempt.)

The feat was described in the Philadelphia Record and, the following year, Maryland Bulletin (the Deaf-press publication of Maryland School for the Deaf). It's noted in Harry G. Lang's retrospective on deaf scientists, Silence of the Spheres. Further than that, I haven't been able to find anything about Zelch, just that he was an alumnus of Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, a tinker and inventor, and patented two mechanical toys. I have contacted WPSD . . . no luck yet. I've also contacted someone who posted Zelch's photo on Ancestry.com (I don't have a paid membership).

I'd like to publish a biographical sketch of this interesting character in DEAF LIFE, but have not been able to find any photos of the flight or aircraft. Whether any were taken, I don't know. As best I can tell, Zelch married and had a son who died at age 7, so I don't know about relatives. He apparently had no descendants.

I would like to provide a sketch (or some hypothetical visualizations) of how Zelch's aeroplane might have looked and worked. If you know of anyone who could draft some useful sketches, I'd love to see them. (Our magazine's policy is to give proper credit to sources and rightsholders.)

I would love to have a recumbent of my own, but at this point, own no bicycles of any kind. I normally hoof it.

Edited by - Parpar1836 on 08/29/2017 12:15:47

carolina
recumbent guru

USA
602 Posts

Posted - 08/29/2017 :  15:06:51  Show Profile  Visit carolina's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Let us know more, maybe another member will come onboard here. Gotta love these American feats.

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Speedbiker
human power expert

USA
3764 Posts

Posted - 08/29/2017 :  19:09:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've followed human powered flight attempts since 1974 and I've never heard of this. Good luck with your search.
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