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Lyman Wiswell Gilmore

Lyman Wiswell Gilmore, Jr. (June 11, 1874 Beaver Creek, Thurston County, Washington- February 18, 1951) 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. Potential proofs of his claim were lost in a 1935 hangar fire.


First flight

Lyman built a steam-powered airplane and claimed that he flew it on May 15, 1902.

There are photographs from 1898 showing Gilmore's machine, but none showing the plane in the air.

Personal life

Some people who remember him claim that Lyman Gilmore, an eccentric man, vowed to never cut his hair or beard, and wore a trench coat even in the middle of summer.


Lyman Gilmore 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 too, for example a rotary snowplow. On March 15, 1907, Gilmore opened the first commercial airfield, Gilmore Airfield, in Grass Valley.

Gilmore's second, larger plane
Drawing of the smaller first plane
Gilmore Flying Field
One of Gilmore's inventions, an 8-cylinder radial engine

After the fire in his hangar, Gilmore began mining for gold and died a poor man in Nevada City, California. His grave can be found in Pine Grove Cemetery, about a half mile outside of town.

See also


Land, R.A., America's First Commercial Airport and Lyman Gilmore Junior. Xlibris publishing, 2006. Biography. ISBN 1-4257-0295-3


External links



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