LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 11

CharlesOlmsted - LeRoyNativeFeatured inDocumentary
Pete Gallivan from WGRZ
in Buffalo called and wanted to
know if I could scan some pho-
tographs of theOlmsted airplane
that at one time was in storage
in the LeRoyAcademic Institute
building that stood where the
parking lot is now next to the
He was producing a piece on
“HiddenHistory inWesternNew
York” andwas going to focus on
aviation. The show aired onMay
27andcanbeGoogled ifyouwant
to see it. Pete knew the story of
Charles Morgan Olmsted, who I
havewritten about several times,
andwanted to feature him in the
story. CharlesOlmstedwas born
inLeRoy in1881. Hewas one of
sixboysborn toJohnB. andClara
lenOlmsted, who ownedAllen’s
Footease. Infact, itwashisbrother
whoowned theLeRoyAcademic
Institutebuilding, thatbecame the
home to theOlmstedplane.
Charlesgrewup inBuffaloand
atanearlyage,became interested
inaviation. In1895,whenhewas
fourteen, he designed and built
a glider. He attended Harvard
University in 1894 and 1895. He
attended Gottingen University
andWilhelmInstitute inGermany
from 1902 to 1906 and obtained
his Ph.D. in astrophysics from
For several years he worked
at the Lick Observatory in Cal-
ifornia, but returned to Buffalo
to work on his radical propeller
design. In 1908, he began exper-
iments with minimum-induced
losspropellers. In1909, he tested
full-sizepropellers inawind tun-
nel. His propellers were used by
GlennCurtiss on his early flying
. The
Olmstedpropeller increased effi-
ciency by 20% over the standard
designs and set records in climb
rates, speed and weight carried
aloft by theCurtissplanes.Glenn
Curtissannounced that theOlmst-
edpropellerswere“thefinest and
most efficient I have ever seen.”
In1910,CharlesOlmsted joined
theBuffaloPittsCompany tode-
velop a mass-produced airplane.
The Buffalo-Pitts Company was
founded in the 1800s andmanu-
factured farmequipment andwas
also known for its steamrollers.
manufacturing facility inBuffalo
andhad tapped intoelectricity for
its facilities fromnearbyNiagara
Falls very early.
When Charles Olmsted joined
BuffaloPitts, therewereonly two
other companies in the United
States licensed tomanufactureair-
planes. At this time, planes were
built of cloth and “bailingwire”.
fuselage. The wings were made
of thin-gauge chrome-vanadium
steel sheet, and aluminum sheet.
The fuselage was molded lami-
nated birch and chrome-vanadi-
um steel sheet. The motors
and propellers were mounted
behind thewings, making the
airplane a “pusher.” Never
the less, the Olmsted pusher
is considered one of the first
“true airplanes.”
Unfortunately, in 1912,
before the plane could be
completed, the Buffalo Pitts
Company went bankrupt.
All that remained was the
attachment of the tail section,
but Olmsted never saw the
project tocompletion. Instead
the planewas held in storage
in Buffalo. When it had to
be moved, Charles’ brother
Allen, offered the old school
building in LeRoy. Charles
sawed thewings off his plane
and it was shipped toLeRoy,
where it remaineduntil theold
Academic Institute building was
declared afire hazard.
The Olmsted family had the
parts shipped to the Smithsonian
Institution,where ithas remained
in storage. Attempts to have the
plane restored andput on exhibit
have not been successful. It is
the only pre-1920 airplane in the
not been restored.
A scale model of the Olmsted
with the tail section. Itwasflown
in a wind tunnel at Purdue Uni-
versityand itproved that theplane
would have maneuvered easily,
mass-produced airplane.
Charles Olmsted formed the
CMO Physical Laboratory and
continued to manufacture and
sell the ultra-efficient propellers.
Charles Olmsted also was the
first to design a super-transport
WIGE (wing-in-ground effect)
vehicle in the springof 1942. He
died in1948.
CharlesOlmsted2nd from the left, one of 6brothers.
1...,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20
Powered by FlippingBook