Vol 8, No 263
September 20, 1865
Brodbeck of Luckenbach flies Airship
First manned Flight
On this date in 1865, Jake Brodbeck flew his Air Ship near Luckenbach decades before the Wright Brothers flew theirs at Kitty Hawk. Some sources give the exact location somewhere closer to Fredericksburg.
At the time of the flight, there were no banks in Fredericksburg, the nearest being in San Antonio a full days ride on the only means of getting there, the stage, which was frequently robbed.
Brodbeck (with the support of local investors) planned an airship to ferry deposits to San Antonio high above harms way. Using a long hillside ramp, clock springs for power, and a forward "canard" or smaller wing which was a necessary addition to the air ship to prevent stalling on the high angle take off, his airship lifted off and flew. But unable to overcome the limitation of clock springs for power, the springs unwound and the plane crashed, and so did investments in Brodbeck's air ship.
He continued to work on his air ship and in 1900, Brodbeck took his plans to the World's Fair in Saint Louis seeking new investors. It was there at the World's Fair, that his plans were stolen.
Three years later, the Wright Brothers flew their powered air ship at Kitty Hawk, also using a forward canard, which should not have been necessary for level powered take offs.
One wonders if Brodbeck's plans made their way to Kitty Hawk. Brodbeck died in 1910 on his ranch near Luckenbach.