Phillips, Horatio Frederick

SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace
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b. 2 February 1845 London, England
d. 15 July 1926 Hampshire, England
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English aerodynamicist whose cambered two-surface wing sections provided the foundations for aerofoil design.
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At the age of 19, Phillips developed an interest in flight and constructed models with lightweight engines. He spent a large amount of time and money over many years, carrying out practical research into the science of aerodynamics. In the early 1880s he built a wind tunnel with a working section of 15 in. by 10 in. (38 cm by 25 cm). Air was sucked through the working section by an adaptation of the steam injector used in boilers and invented by Henry Giffard, the airship pioneer. Phillips tested aerofoils based on the cross-section of bird's wings, with a greater curvature on the upper surface than the lower. He measured the lift and drag and showed that the major component of lift came from suction on the upper surface, rather than pressure on the lower. He took out patents for his aerofoil sections in 1884 and 1891. In addition to his wind-tunnel test, Phillips tested his wing sections on a whirling arm, as used earlier by Cayley, Wenham and Lilienthal. After a series of tests using an arm of 15 ft (4.57 m) radius, Phillips built a massive whirling arm driven by a steam engine. His test pieces were mounted on the end of the arm, which had a radius of 50 ft (15.24 m), giving them a linear speed of 70 mph (113 km/h). By 1893 Phillips was ready to put his theories to a more practical test, so he built a large model aircraft driven by a steam engine and tethered to run round a circular track. It had a wing span of 19 ft (5.79 m), but it had fifty wings, one above the other. These wings were only 10 in. (25 cm) wide and mounted in a frame, so it looked rather like a Venetian blind. At 40 mph (64 km/h) it lifted off the track. In 1904 Phillips built a full-size multi-wing aeroplane with twenty wings which just lifted off the ground but did not fly. He built another multi-wing machine in 1907, this time with four Venetian blind' frames in tandem, giving it two hundred wings! Phillips made a short flight of almost 500 ft (152 m) which could be claimed to be the first powered aeroplane flight in England by an Englishman. He retired from flying at the age of 62.
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Bibliography
1900, "Mechanical flight and matters relating thereto", Engineering (reprint).
1891–3, "On the sustentation of weight by mechanical flight", Aeronautical Society of Great Britain 23rd Report.
Further Reading
J.Laurence Pritchard, 1957, "The dawn of aerodynamics", Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society (March) (good descriptions of Phillips's early work and his wind tunnel).
J.E.Hodgson, 1924, The History of Aeronautics in Great Britain, London.
F.W.Brearey, 1891–3, "Remarks on experiments made by Horatio Phillips", Aeronautical Society of Great Britain 23rd Report.
JDS

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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