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Lyman Gilmore

Gilmore's second, larger plane

Drawing of the smaller first plane

Gilmore Flying Field

One of Gilmore's inventions, an 8-cylinder radial engine

Lyman Gilmore, (June 11, 1874-February 18, 1951), a Choctaw Indian, was an aviation pioneer. In Grass Valley, California, USA, he built a steam powered airplane and claimed that he flew it on May 15, 1902. Due to the requirement of a heavy boiler and the dependency on coal as a power source the flights would have only been short. All proofs of his claim were lost in a 1935 hangar fire.

There exist photographs from 1898 showing Gilmore's machine, but none showing it in the air. He was in contact with other flight pioneers like Samuel Langley and eventually the Wright Brothers. In 1902, Gilmore was granted two patents on steam engines, the first of which was granted in 1902. He invented in other areas to, for example a rotary snowplow. On March 15, 1907 Gilmore opened the first commercial airfield, Gilmore Airfield.

After the fire in his hangar Gilmore began mining for gold and died as a poor man in Nevada City.

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