Horatio Frederick Phillips
1845 Born in London on 2 February
1926 Died in Hampshire on 15 July
Phillips developed an early interest in flight and devoted much time and money to the study of aerodynamics. In the early 1880s he built a wind tunnel to test aerofoils, and took out patents for aerofoils in 1884 and 1891. He also built a 15 ft radius rotating arm to test wing sections. In 1893 he built a tethered steam-powered model aircraft, and eventually he built full size aircraft with numerous wings of narrow chord, and with one of these he managed to make a flight of about 500 ft. in 1907.. Clearly he was going down a 'venetian' blind alley with his favoured profusion of wings, but his aerofoil research did make a useful contribution in the field of flight development.
An interesting summary of Phillips' work may be found here, where we learn that 'Phillips' designs demonstrated the first truly modern airfoils. His findings were widely disseminated, and thereafter all serious flying-machine developers used cambered airfoils.'
Harald Penrose described Phillips as 'a somewhat dogmatic but clever engineer, who devised a steam injector system of producing, in a square section tunnel, a high-speed air current of improved steadiness compared with Wenham's method of fan-generated wind.' Following experiments with this tunnel and with a 50 ft rotating arm driven by a 6 HP steam engine of his own design, he patented wing sections with a 'dipping leading edge'. He had also obtained a patent for hydrofoils in 1875, and he built four helicopters.
Sources of Information
- Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology, edited by Lance Day and Ian McNeil, Routledge, 1996
- 'British Aviation - The Pioneer Years 1903-1914' by Harald Penrose, Putnam, 1967