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I'm aware of many mixed feelings regarding FLLW merchandise and this article at Jet Set Modern states one person's specific thoughts on the subject: http://www.jetsetmodern.com/wrightwrong.htm
However, there are certain products that truly are stellar and not just of the t-shirt and poster variety. Do any of you own any FLLW licensed products? A barrel chair perhaps or a sprite garden statue? Does anyone have strong feelings for or against these licensed items?
First in flight?
By Chris Mooney, 4/20/2003
THE UNITED STATES may be gearing up to celebrate the centennial of human flight on Dec. 17, 2003, but the rest of the world has other ideas. New Zealand, for example, recently commemorated the 1903 flight of an inventor named Richard Pearse, which supposedly took place on his Waitohi farm. Pearse is just one of many individuals, from mere fabricators and local legends to genuine aviation pioneers, who may have preceded the Wrights into the air.
Brazilians have named their countryman Alberto Santos-Dumont the ''Father of Aviation'' for flying 220 meters in France in 1906 -- at a time when the Wrights still had not performed a publicly announced demonstration. As for the ever-pesky French, many still hold out for Clement Ader, who built the steam-powered Eole, a craft resembling a giant bat. Although it was incapable of sustained flight, in 1890 Ader managed to get the Eole off the ground for 160 feet or so -- a mere ''powered hop,'' according to the Smithsonian's Tom Crouch. Aviation historians have debunked Ader's claims of subsequent flights, but in his new book ''Taking Flight,'' Richard Hallion notes that visitors to Charles de Gaulle airport can dine at Chez Clement, a restaurant featuring a graphic of Ader ''laughing jauntily'' as his Eole soars in the background.
The Wrights have had rivals aplenty in their own country. Consider the delightful story of the Reverend Burrell Cannon, a Baptist pastor in Pittsburg, Texas, who in 1902 flew his Ezekiel Flying Machine 60 feet, according to neighbors. A more serious threat has come from the Smithsonian secretary Samuel Pierpont Langley's infamous Aerodrome, a powerful and hulking craft that was the utter antithesis of the Wrights' nimble flyer. From 1914 through 1942, the Smithsonian claimed that the contraption had actually been capable of flight, thus challenging both the Wrights' priority and their patent claims.
At least the Smithsonian finally admitted its error. By contrast, the dispute over Gustave Albin Whitehead, of Bridgeport, Conn., who supposedly made numerous flights in 1901, including a crossing of Long Island Sound, seems capable of going on indefinitely. Tom Crouch likens the Whitehead debate to the never-ending ''arguments over the authorship of the Shakespeare plays.'' With something as important as the first sustained, controlled, and powered flight of a heavier-than-air craft in human history, how could it be otherwise?
Now, I'm not a fan of some of the Wright products out there. However, there are many things that I've bought with the FLLW logo that I enjoy. There is the copper urn and weed holder by Historical Arts & Casting, which are excellent. Also, the Imperial Hotel China is nice. I do use notecards to send to friends and family that have Mr. Wright's design motifs on them.
I just stay away from FLLW puppets, keychains and posters.
FLW addiction recently fed by building a wright-inspired ranch designed by former senior Taliesin Fellow.
_ the garden sprite has developed a nice light-green patina after three summers. Well worth the cost.
_ we have four supposedly "original" Luxfer Prisms that we found in a box in the corner of a Toledo, Ohio, antique shop. No big deal if they're not original; they sit on our kitchen windowsill and REALLY WORK!
_ the Lake Geneva Hotel magazine rack tends to collapse when you slide it a couple of inches so you can vacuum under it.
_ the wife doesn't wear much jewelry, but that didn't stop me from buying her a Guggenheim brooch last Xmas. She doesn't wear it.
_ the paperboard HO-scale Robie House is way, way beyond my engineering capabilities. I'm thinking of assembling a McMansion instead.
It may well be, that Richard's definition of "flight" was far more rigorous than Orville and Wilbur's (Including the ability to turn, circle, climb and descend, and the full use of ailerons (which he definitely DID invent).
However, with the inventor's name on the denial, it seems academic at best.
What we can say about Pearse is that he was a mechanical genius, and as the last of 7 sons, did not get to attend university as his father had blown too much money sending his other (utterly useless sons) through school.
Pearse build internal combustion engines (and later his own "aero-engines") without ever having seen one operate: entirely from scratch.
The tragedy of Pearse is that while he may not have been the first to fly, he definitely did invent (and patent) the aileron - the one piece of equipment an aeroplane really can not do without. Sadly, the patent expired (after 7 years) and it wasn;t until 4 years after thatm that plane manufacturers "discovered" the patent, and began incorporating them into every single aeroplane since. Pearse made not one red cent from this, the most important of inventions for modern flight.
*Plotting to take over the world since 1965