Airplanes and Monorails - 100
by Kim Pedersen
December 17, 2003
Today, December 17, 2003, is the 100th anniversary of one
of man's most historic events. This day in 1903, the Wright Brothers
became the first humans to successfully fly into the air on a
man-made controllable aircraft. Why am I paying tribute to this
event on the Monorail Society website? One of the interesting
side notes of this important event happens to be that the Wright
Flyer traveled down a monorail before it took to the air!
Pictured here is a replica of the Flyer located at the
San Diego Aerospace Museum. Look closely and you can see the single
rail that the Wright Brothers used to launch their airplane. The
wheel in the front stayed with the aircraft into the air, but
the rear wheels were part of a small sled that remained earthbound.
A closer look at one of the lesser-known monorails.
Monorails have been around longer than airplanes, but in
the last 100 years there have been many links between the two.
In1929 in Scotland, George Bennie's Railplane was obviously an
attempt at duplicating aviation speeds on rail. Besides having
an aerodynamic plane-like body, thrust came from electrically-powered
propellers at the front and back of the test vehicle. A Railplane
test track was successfully demonstrated, but the system never
took off (pun intended).
Other airplane-like monorails were proposed throughout
the years, but perhaps the most famous monorail with an aviation
look was the original Disneyland-Alweg Monorail. Designer Bob
Gurr was inspired by the Flash Gordon rocket ship when he designed
the Mark I. The Mark I featured aluminum side panels, a pilot
"bubble," and a sleek nose that reflected the new jet
age in 1959. This image is of the Mark II, the second generation
and Monorails - Part II
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