Captain Yancey and His Fabulous Autogyro

Source of clipping: Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) 03 Jul 1931, Fri Page 1

Good article here.

The Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro was developed in 1931 and proved to be a reliable, unique aircraft. The rotor at its top was unpowered and it flew more like a fixed wing aircraft than a helicopter, based on the power from its radial engine on the nose. Once at speed, the rotor spun based on aerodynamic forces alone thus generating lift. It was an amazing sight and attracted crowds wherever it flew. By April of 1931, the autogyro had flown across the United States at the hands of John M. Miller, had landed on the White House lawn (by test pilot Jim Ray), and had soared to a new altitude record of 18,415 feet (this being Amelia Earhart’s record).

Seizing upon the press interest in the design, the Champion Spark Plug company purchased one and painted the sides with their logo and named it “Miss Champion”. It was the perfect flying billboard. After hiring Captain Lewis “Lew” Yancey, a former Naval Lieutenant and USCG officer who was a maritime captain, they directed that he fly the nation on an advertising tour. By the end of 1931, Captain Yancey had flown the autogyro 6,500 miles, transiting 21 states and touching down in 38 cities around the nation. Yet the Champion Spark Plugs company still wanted more attention — and thus they asked him to beat Amelia Earhart’s altitude record as well.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Sep 05, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Inventions, Publicity Stunts, World Records, Advertising, Air Travel and Airlines, 1930s

Banana-Shaped Writing Device

Kia Scudder of San Antonio, Texas was recently granted Patent No. 11077701 for a "banana shaped writing device and method." From the patent:

Generally, the banana shaped writing device is a pencil that resembled a banana wherein the banana is peeled to reveal the lead. The banana shaped writing device allows the users to access additional lead when it gets too short or dull by peeling the banana layers. It enables children and even adults to stand out by using such a unique pencil. The device includes a cushioned inside that provides comfort to users, especially left-handed users. The present invention assists children that are beginning to learn how to write remember correct finger position.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 03, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, Patents, Bananas

The Reid Flying Submarine

More pix and article here.

It wasn't a high-tech machine, despite its abilities. In the air it was powered by a 65 horsepower four-cylinder Lycoming engine. While underwater a 1-horsepower electric motor provided propulsion. Conversion from aircraft to submarine was a clumsy affair. The pilot first had to remove the propeller, and then cover the engine pylon with a rubber diving bell to keep the engine dry. The pilot used an aqualung to breathe. Maximum depth was roughly 10 to 12 ft (3.5 metres).

From THE SATURDAY EVENING POST for January 1, 1966.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Aug 21, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Death, Disasters, Inventions, Oceans and Maritime Pursuits, Air Travel and Airlines, 1960s

Madeleine Ravier’s Bicycle for Animals

Humans have invented mechanical devices, such as bicycles, that allow us to move faster by amplifying the power of our limbs. Madeleine Ravier of Paris argued that what works for people should also work for animals. So she invented and, in 1907, patented a "Cycles pour animaux," or 'bicycle for animals'.

Her patent is in French, but the automatic translation is fairly comprehensible. Here's part of it.

Man has understood the vital interest he had in developing the means to go fast, long and far; for this purpose, he enslaved animals to his use, he acquired science, in particular mechanical science, and he used it to employ at his pleasure, or almost, some of the different forms of energy , like heat, electricity, chemical affinity.

Quite recently (less than 50 years ago), understanding the imperfection of his own limbs, he endowed them with mobile mechanisms, he put cycles, devices formed of 2 or 3 wheels between the legs. and of a few light and simple organs, with which he has prodigiously increased the extent of his movements without the help of external energy.

He thus achieved 370 kilometers in 12 hours (cyclist Cadolle), and even 45,764 kilometers (record of cyclist Bouhours), while excellent athletes, on their limbs, did not achieve, at most, at the same time of 12 hours than the already very high distances of 113 kilometers (walker 5o Hibbird) or ikh kilometers (rowell runner)....

What man did for himself he can do it for animals, or at least for some of them; There is a way to increase the efficiency of their limbs by the intercalation, between these limbs and the field of motion, of mechanical devices receiving the reciprocating motion of the limbs, transforming it into continuous rotary motion, and ending in rotating parts; and the result obtained can be used to make animals move man faster and farther than has hitherto been done by using them.

Ravier imagined making bicycles for all kinds of animals including "mules, donkeys, elephants, camels, dromedaries, etc.". But she started with a bicycle for horses, as shown below.

I have no idea if she ever built and tested one of these horse bicycles. The language barrier makes researching this a challenge.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 08, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Bicycles and Other Human-powered Vehicles, Inventions, Patents, 1900s

Banvard’s Folly

I am halfway thru reading this book and can testify to its greatness, and to its allure for all WU-vies. I have already learned about so many hoaxes, weirdos and charlatans I never knew about before.

Here's how the book opens:

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 01, 2021 - Comments (8)
Category: Frauds, Cons and Scams, History, Historical Figure, Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators, Inventions, New Age, Supernatural, Occult, Paranormal, Books, Goofs and Screw-ups

Polyform, Edison’s Topical Anesthetic

American inventor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison is legendary for his contributions to such technologies as the lightbulb, the telephone, the phonograph, and motion pictures, among many others.1In his lifetime, Edison obtained 1,093 US patents and some 1,239 patents in other countries. Little known among these efforts was his “improved anesthetic compound.”

In the summer of 1882, George F. Shrady (Founder and Editor, Medical Record 1866–1904) (1837–1907), reported that Thomas Edison invented a new anesthetic made of chloroform, ether, alcohol, and camphor and had applied for British and German patents.2The witty but misinformed editor added, “Edison may wish to use it on his stockholders until electric light was in successful operation.”

In fact, the “anesthetic” actually was an analgesic liniment that Edison had prepared in early 1878. He named it Polyform and advertised it for “neurologic pain.” Polyform was a mixture of chloroform, ether, camphor gum, alcohol, chloral hydrate, morphine, and oils of peppermint and clove. Edison believed that his compound’s various analgesics would potentiate each other and that the mixture would attack pain in a “shotgun manner.”3

More info here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jun 24, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Celebrities, Inventions, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Nineteenth Century

Horse Spike

In 1899, Patent No. 636,430 was granted to Franz and Konrad Hieke of Philadelphia for what they described as "cavalry equipment". It was essentially a large spike attached to the front of a horse. From their patent:

This invention relates to cavalry equipment; and it has for its object the provision of novel means for protecting the horse from the missiles of the enemy and in the provision of a cutting projection designed to injure the enemy or cause him to evade the projection by stepping to one side where an attack by the rider would be effective.

A better view:

Argos Reflector - Feb 8, 1900

I wonder if one of these was ever actually used in combat?

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 22, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Inventions, Patents, Weapons, Nineteenth Century

Staying awake at the wheel

Over the years, inventors have dreamed up a variety of ways to keep drivers awake while driving.

In 1936, Carl Brown got a patent on a chin-operated alarm device. If a driver started to nod off, and his head fell forward, this would depress a trigger, setting off an electric bell that would wake him up. (Patent No. 2,066,092)

In 1940, Raymond Young had the idea that whenever a driver was feeling drowsy he could press a button on the steering wheel and this would squirt an aromatic spray in his face, waking him up. (Patent No. 2,199,060)

And just last month, Hyundai was granted a patent for a system that shoots ultrasonic beams at a driver's eyes when it senses he's falling asleep. (Patent No. 11007932)

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 14, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, Patents, Sleep and Dreams, Cars

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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