It is the individuality of people that not only provide the ideas that give rise to progress but also provides the many interesting tales of events which makes us thankful that we are not all the same.
For instance G.L.O. Davidson of Banchory spent a lot of time and funds in trying to invent a vertical take-off machine. In 1907 he was in Denver Colorado working on an enormous machine which had a pair of 120 blade rotary ‘lifters’ powered by a Stanley steam engine which was designed to raise its occupants straight off the ground.
All was ready on 8th. May 1908 when Davidson decided to pilot his own invention. He turned up the pressure, nothing happened, so he turned it up more and more until the plane actually lifted off the ground before the top blew off the boiler and the plane crumpled back to earth.
Davidson was undeterred by this set back and returned to Scotland to carry on with more experiments which unfortunately all came to nothing. But here was a man who had vision and brought his talents to the fore in an attempt to design the first vertical take off plane. He may have been unsuccessful but deserves credit for trying.
Another entrepreneur was George Bennie who designed and built a futuristic monorail train to carry passengers at high speeds in comfort. The Bennie Railplane was designed to be built above an existing railway line which would then be used to carry slow moving freight whilst the passengers travelled at speed above in the monorail.
In 1929 a quarter of a mile test track was built above the existing railway line at Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow which allowed for a cigar shaped carriage to be suspended from an overhead rail with a stabilizing rail beneath to prevent it swaying. The carriage was driven by propellers at each end powered by aero engines to drive it along the track in both directions. It was very successful and many trips were made along the track but unfortunately Bennie was unable to attract investors so the idea was not pursued until many years later.
These were men of vision but unfortunately in George Bennie’s case he must have been too far ahead of his time for investors to appreciate the brilliance of his invention.There are many men and women of vision who over the years have either helped progress or alternatively provided us with many interesting tales to warm us around the fireside on a winter’s evening. I will continue with my research and hope to see you next week.