Enea Bossi, Sr.

Enea Bossi, Sr.

Infobox Aviator
name= Enea Bossi
lived=29 March 1888 - 1963

image size=
caption=Portrait of Enea Bossi
full name= Enea Bossi
place of birth= Milan
nationality= Italian, American
place of death=
cause of death=
spouse=Flora Kehrer
known for=Budd BB-1 "Pioneer"
first flight aircraft=
first flight date=
license date=
license place=
air force=

Enea Bossi, Sr. (29 March 1888 – 1963) was an Italian-American aerospace engineer and aviation pioneer. He is best-known for designing the Budd BB-1 "Pioneer", the first stainless steel aircraft; and also the "Pedaliante" airplane, disputably credited with the first fully human-powered flight.

Personal life

Enea Bossi was born in Milan, Italy.cite book |last= Grosser |first= Morton |title= Gossamer Odyssey: The Triumph of Human-Powered Flight |publisher= Houghton Mifflin |year= 1981 |isbn= 0-7603-2051-9] He emigrated to the United States on the RMS "Oceanic" from Cherbourg, France, on 20 July 1914, subsequently residing at 264 Riverside Drive in Great Neck, New York. Bossi declared his intention to becomes a citizen of the United States on 30 July 1914 and petitioned for naturalization on 9 December 1925. He became a naturalized United States citizen on 16 March 1926, though his two sons retained their inherited Italian citizenship, "jus sanguines", as well their American citizenship, "jus soli". [United States of America Declaration of Intention & Petition for Naturalization #270572 (or #270872), United States of America Certificate of Naturalization #2313991]

He married Flora Kehrer, a Swiss German from Lausanne who had migrated to the United States immediately prior to the outbreak of World War I and was living with her aunt and uncle in Connecticut. The two met through Enea Bossi’s professional relationship with her uncle. The couple had two children, Charles Bossi (b. 1922 in New York City) and Enea Wilbur Bossi, Jr. (b. 1924 in Montclair, New Jersey, d. 1999). They ultimately resided on Upper Mountain Avenue in Montclair.

Professional career

Bossi graduated from the Instituto Technico in Lodi, Italy, in 1907, specializing in physics and mathematics. The Wright brothers’ "Flyer", having successfully flown in December 1903, impressed Bossi so much that he devoted himself to aviation. Financed by his father, in 1908 he designed and built his own plane, modeled after the Wright "Flyer". Bossi also used the plane to teach both himself and Giuseppe M. Bellanca how to fly. This design won a silver medal the following year at the first international aviation meeting in Reims, France. The plane became the first Italian-designed airplane to be mass-produced, built in Bossi’s own factory.cite web | url = http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,883606,00.html | title = Icarus to Bossi | date = 1937-02-08 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = Time Magazine | language = English]

In early December 1909, the first flight of a fully Italian-designed and Italian-built aircraft was successfully completed alongside fellow engineers Giuseppe M. Bellanca and Paolo Invernizzi. cite web | url = http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/arch/findaids/bellanca/gmb_sec_3.html | title = Biographical and Historical Notes, The Giuseppe M. Bellanca Collection | accessdate = 2007-12-06 | publisher = Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | language = English] Also in 1909, Bossi developed the first landing gear braking system as well as the Italian Navy’s first seaplane – both of which turned out to be successful endeavors.

During the early 1910’s, Bossi served as an Italian representative of Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company – securing rights for local license production of the Curtiss Model F by the Zari brothers, who built eight examples at their workshop in Bovisia (it) (today a zone of Milan). The first of these was demonstrated to the Italian Navy on Lake Como on 22 September 1914.

During World War I, Bossi served as both a bomber pilot and a flight instructor for the Italian Navy. Due to the economic and social difficulties in Italy following the war, in 1918, Bossi emigrated to the United States, where he eventually became a naturalized citizen. In the 1920s, Bossi worked on a number of devices relating to fuel systems – leading to work in his later years on modern aerial refueling systems.cite web | url = http://www.google.com/patents?id=pVhTAAAAEBAJ | title = Patent 1,528,628 – “Vacuum Feed System” | date = 1920-11-23 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = United States Patent Office | language = English] cite web | url = http://www.google.com/patents?id=xVBAAAAAEBAJ | title = Patent 1,536,324 – “Vacuum Feed” | date = 1921-09-15 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = United States Patent Office | language = English] cite web | url = http://www.google.com/patents?id=qylYAAAAEBAJ | title = Patent 1,615,299 – “Diaphragm for Liquid Pumps” | date = 1924-05-28 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = United States Patent Office | language = English] cite web | url = http://www.google.com/patents?id=jal5AAAAEBAJ | title = Patent 1,643,539 – “Liquid Fuel Supply Mechanism for Motor Vehicles” | date = 1928-01-18 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = United States Patent Office | language = English]

American Aeronautical Corporation

In October 1928, Bossi founded the American Aeronautical Corporation (AAC) in Port Washington, New York, to build Savoia-Marchetti seaplanes under license. Licenses were acquired for both the S-55 and the S-56 and both were tested at the Miller Army Air Field, cite web | url = http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/aviation/mil.htm | title = Miller Army Air Field Historic District | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = National Park Service | language = English] but only the latter made it to production. The S-56 was first introduced in Italy two years earlier as a three-seat amphibious aircraft powered by air-cooled radial engines in the 90- to 110-horsepower range. The AAC fitted the with an American Kinner engine. cite web | url = http://www.aviastar.org/manufacturers/0182.html | title = American Aeronautical Corporation | accessdate = 2007-12-06 | publisher = Maksim Starostin | language = English] cite web | url = http://www.cradleofaviation.org/exhibits/golden_age/marchetti/index.html | title = American Aeronautical (Savoia Marchetti) S-56| accessdate = 2007-12-06 | publisher = Cradle of Aviation | language = English] cite web | url = http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgMakeModel.nsf/0/352e3b0678c4b90d8525672b0073fa01/$FILE/ATTZMXG5/TC336.pdf S-56 Specifications | title = S-56 Specifications | accessdate = 2007-12-07 | publisher = Federal Aviation Administration | language = English] cite web | url = http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgMakeModel.nsf/0/9d325390ff5f59998525672b0073ea47/$FILE/ATTW6KED/TC287.pdf | title = S-56 Specifications | accessdate = 2007-12-07 | publisher = Federal Aviation Administration | language = English|format=PDF] Following on the heels of a boom in the aviation industry in America – largely attributed to Charles Lindbergh’s flight in 1927 – it was among the few foreign designs to be manufactured in the United States under [http://www.aerofiles.com/atc.html Approved Type Certificates] (ATCs) and, at $7,300, was also the first low-priced amphibious aircraft on the U.S. market. The size and price of the vehicle appealed to recreational aviators, despite its difficult handling. On water, the plane lacked a rudder; on ground, the plane only had a non-steerable tail skid (that is: no conventional brakes); and in the air, when the wheels were extended, the added drag complicated the steering. cite web | url = http://www.msacomputer.com/FlyingBoats-old/italy/Savoia-Marchetti-S-56.htm | title = Italian amphib: “Savoia-Marchetti S-56 was tough plane to manage on the water” |author= Peter M. Bowers |date= 1999-10-01| accessdate = 2007-12-06 | publisher = General Aviation News | language = English]

Thirty-six S-56s were built under ATC A-287, which was awarded on 4 January 1930.cite web | url = http://www.cradleofaviation.org/news/10603.html | title = Nation's Number One Columbus Day Parade Turns To Long Island's Cradle Of Aviation For Help in Finding Rare Vintage Airplane | date = 2003-10-06 | accessdate = 2007-12-07 | publisher = Cradle of Aviation | language = English] The S-56 became the first plane used by the New York City Police Department, which used it to enforce flying regulations, assist with sea rescues, and to chase rum-runners during the Prohibition era.cite web | url = http://www.columbuscitizensfd.org/pages/newsletter0315.pdf | title = Columbus Citizens Foundation Newsletter | date= 2003-10-12 | accessdate = 2007-12-06 | publisher = Columbus Citizens Foundation | language = English|format=PDF] A follow-up design, the S-56B, proved even more successful. ATC A-336, for the S-56B design, was awarded on 11 July 1930. The S-56B included a more powerful 125-horsepower Kinner B-5 engine and sold for $7,825. Whereas the prices for the S-56 and S-56B were modest for the time, the Great Depression caused sales to drop significantly by 1933. Two original AAC S-56 planes exist today: one of which is on display at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, New York. ( [http://www.williammaloney.com/Aviation/CradleOfAviationMuseum/AmericanAeronauticalS56SavoiaMarchetti/index.htm photos] )

With a factory already in place in Port Washington, on Long Island, the AAC sponsored the construction of a seaplane base in the town. It was officially dedicated by the striking of a bronze medal on 14 September 1929. The circular medal is sized 4 x 2 15/16" (102 x 73mm) and features a one-sided print consisting of a flying boat and an amphibian aloft in the upper-center, a sketch of the projected terminal building at the bottom, a winged male figure at lower left, and at right, the words "Laying of Cornerstone, New York Seaplane Airport September 14th 1929 American Aeronautical Corporation". Prominent speakers at the dedication included Edward P. Warner.cite web | url = http://libweb.princeton.edu/libraries/firestone/rbsc/aids/newman/newman2.html | title = Arthur L. Newman Collection of Aeronautical Medals | accessdate = 2007-12-07 | publisher = Princeton University | language = English]

Bossi’s work was not without its setbacks. In early 1930, he survived the crash of an experimental S-56 off Port Washington which claimed the life of test pilot Peter Talbot. Bossi was rescued by the Coast Guard’s ship CG-162. [Coast Guard Magazine (June 1930), p. 17.]

Budd Company

The Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Corporation, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was a major manufacturer of railroad cars, which resulted in significant experience in working with stainless steel. In 1930, the company made its first foray into the aviation industry by signing contracts to manufacture aircraft wheels & stainless steel wing ribs. A close friend of Edward Budd, Enea Bossi joined the company as the head of stainless steel research to supervise the design and construction of the 4-seat Budd BB-1 "Pioneer" – the first aircraft with a structure built out of stainless steel ( [http://www.airfields-freeman.com/PA/Budd_Pioneer_50s.jpgphoto] ). Occurring in 1931, this was the first aircraft for the Budd Company. Built under Restricted License NR749, cite web | url = http://www.msacomputer.com/FlyingBoats-old/italy/Savoia-Marchetti-S-56.htm | title = Italian amphib: “Savoia-Marchetti S-56 was tough plane to manage on the water” |author= Peter M. Bowers |date= 1999-10-01| accessdate = 2007-12-06 | publisher = General Aviation News | language = English] its design utilized concepts developed for the Savoia-Marchetti S-31 and was powered by a single 210 horsepower Kinner C-5 motor. cite web | url = http://www.airfields-freeman.com/PA/Airfields_PA_Philly_NE.htm | title = Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields - Pennsylvania | accessdate = 2007-12-07 | publisher = Paul Freeman | language = English]

The stainless steel construction process for the BB-1 was patented in 1942.cite web | url = http://www.google.com/patents?id=tLxaAAAAEBAJ | title = Patent 2,425,498 – “Airplane” | date = 1942-07-18 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = United States Patent Office | language = English] At the time, stainless steel was not considered practical; and only one BB-1 was built. In 1934, this plane was stripped of its fabric covering and mounted outside the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, where it remains to this day as the longest continuous display of any airplane. The plane has been memorialized in the children’s book "Spirited Philadelphia Adventure" by Deirdre Cimino.cite book |last= Cimino |first= Deirdre |title= Spirited Philadelphia Adventure |publisher= Junior League of Philadelphia |year= 2000 |isbn= 0-9626-9591-2] In 1931, Bossi sold the controlling interest of the AAC to Dayton Airplane Engine Company. The success which came from the technical innovations of the BB-1 prompted the Budd Company to employ Bossi as its European representative.


In 1932, Bossi heard of an airplane which had successfully flown while powered only by a 1-horsepower (0.75 kW) engine. This prompted Bossi to calculate the minimum power that a manned aircraft would need to fly. The calculation yielded a value of approximately 0.94-horsepower (0.70 kW), which convinced Bossi that Human-powered flight might be possible. During a trip to Philadelphia, Bossi tested the speed at which a glider would take off under tow. The experiment consisted of hiring a professional bicyclist to tow a glider. A spring scale was attached to the tow line to sense the force exerted by the bicyclist. This same experiment procedure was later repeated as part of the development of the "Gossamer Condor" and the "Gossamer Albatross". The results confirmed that a speed at which the necessary lift could be obtained was indeed attainable.

A second experiment conducted during a trip to Paris involved a propeller-driven bicycle designed by Bossi. The test rider achieved a speed of 23 miles (37 km) per hour, but one drawback was noted: the gyroscopic effect of the propeller generated so much torque that the bicycle became unstable. Bossi concluded, erroneously, that a successful human-powered aircraft would therefore require two counter-rotating propellers to cancel out the effects of torque – similar to the design of a helicopter. In light of these findings, Bossi decided to design an aircraft incorporating this difficult requirement.

In 1933, the Frankfurt Polytechnische Gesellschaft (Frankfurt Polytechnic Society) offered a prize to promote human-powered flight. During this period, many German activities were copied by Italy, and in 1936 the Italian government offered an equivalent contest: offering 100,000 lire for a 0.62 mile (1 kilometer) human-powered flight made by an Italian citizen. Bossi was aware that he could not receive the prize due to his American citizenship, but he opted to attempt to win it, anyway.

Bossi’s design for the contest was named the "Pedaliante" ( [http://www.aviastar.org/air/italy/bossi-bonomi.php photo] ), Italian for “Pedal Glider” – so named because it utilized conventional glider configuration and construction.cite web | url = http://www.humanpoweredflying.propdesigner.co.uk/html/body_bef ore_1939.html | title = Muscle Assisted Flights Before 1939 | accessdate = 2007-12-06 | publisher = Chris Roper | language = English] The design was introduced in 1937 and Vittorio Bonomi, an Italian sailplane manufacturer, was contracted to build the plane. Bossi and Bonomi enlisted Emilio Casco to pilot the "Pedaliante". Casco was a major in the Italian Army and a very strong bicyclist. After several weeks of trials in early 1936, Casco took off in the "Pedaliante" and flew approximately 300 feet (91.4 m) completely under his own power, marking the first achievement of an aircraft obtaining and sustaining flight completely via human power. Although subsequent calculations have verified that this flight was physically possible, most agree that it was Casco’s considerable physical strength and endurance which performed the accomplishment; not a feat which could be attained by a typical person.

Incorporating a catapult launch to a height of 30 feet (9 m), the "Pedaliante" made a flight on 13 September 1936 which traveled several hundred meters. On 18 March 1937, at Cinisello airport near Milan, the plane was launched at a height of 29.5 feet (9 m) and Casco successfully pedaled the craft for its full 0.62 miles (1 km). This set a world record for human-powered flight, but as a catapult launch was not permitted in the rules of the competition, the "Pedaliante" did not win the prize for which it was designed. The plane was retired the following year having made a total 80 flights – 43 without the assistance of a catapult launch.cite journal |last= Bossi|first= Enea|year= 1960|month= 12|title= A man has flown by his own power in 1937|journal= Canadian Aeronautical Journal |volume= 6 |issue=10 |pages= 395–399] At this time, the "Mufli" and the "Pedaliante" were the most advanced Human-powered aircraft ever built.cite web | url = http://www.raes.org.uk/cmspage.asp?cmsitemid=SG_hum_pow_history | title = Significant achievements | accessdate = 2007-12-06 | publisher = Royal Aeronautical Society | language = English]

Later work

Initially developed at Delgado TradesSchool and completed by Enea Bossi, the two-place side-by-side single-rotor Higgins EB-1 helicopter was completed in 1943 and built by Higgins Industries, Inc., of New Orleans, Louisiana. Plans for larger versions were terminated following the downturn in the military aviation industry following the end of World War II. cite web | url = http://www.aerofiles.com/_h.html | title = American airplanes Ha-Hu | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = K. O. Eckland | language = English] The fuselage was covered in its entirety by a metallic skin, with the tail covered in fabric. A two-bladed vertical tail rotor was included in its design to counter the effects of torque and the landing gear was configured in a fixed tricycle form. The four-bladed main rotor consisted of two pairs of blades mounted one above the other. The interior featured controls similar to those of a conventional airplane.cite web | url = http://www.aviastar.org/helicopters_eng/higgins.php | title = Higgins EB-1 | accessdate = 2007-12-06 | publisher = Aviastar | language = English] ["Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats That Won World War II", Jerry E. Strahan, Louisiana State University Press, 1994]

Bossi further developed helicopter technology, particularly with regards to contra-rotating dual-propellers and tail rotors – work which was also, to a limited degree, furthered by his two sons.cite web | url = http://www.google.com/patents?id=9AN-AAAAEBAJ | title = Patent 2,381,968 – “Aircraft With a Rotary Blade System” | date = 28 May 1942 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = United States Patent Office | language = English] cite web | url = http://www.google.com/patents?id=mBV-AAAAEBAJ | title = Patent 2,383,038 – “Airing of Antitorque Propellers” | date = 1943-06-04 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = United States Patent Office | language = English] cite web | url = http://www.google.com/patents?id=qylYAAAAEBAJ | title = Patent 2,396,038 – “Helicopter” | date = 1942-05-28 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = United States Patent Office | language = English] cite web | url = http://www.google.com/patents?id=-QprAAAAEBAJ | title = Patent 2,415,622 – “Helicopter Antitorque Propeller System” | date = 1944-10-18 | accessdate = 2008-02-18 | publisher = United States Patent Office | language = English]

External links

*http://www.google.com/patents?id=vatPAAAAEBAJ “Manifold”, U.S. Patent 2,262,627, filed 1938-11-15, accessed 2008-02-18


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