THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF FRANCE to aviation have been glorious, and are reflected to this day in its terminology. An airplane has a fuselage along with an empennage or tail. It maintains control using ailerons. Engines are enclosed within nacelles or housings, while the structural framework uses longerons, longitudinal members. The construction may be monocoque, “single shell, ” dispensing with internal structure and using a stiffened skin for its strength. A craft may have canards, small control surfaces set well forward of the wing. With the dictionary of aeronautics being largely written in French, one is led to ask just how the Wrights invented the airplane.
The influence of Wilbur and Orville is easy to trace. Following the death of Lilienthal in 1896, Ferdinand Ferber remained for a time as the only Frenchman still attempting to fly with gliders of that German design. A magazine article that he read in October 1901 led him into