George Francis Meyers, aviation pioneer whose experiments were contemporary with the Wright brothers, died on April 5 in
a hospital in New York City. He was 96 years old.
Mr. Meyers was credited with experiments in the earliest heavier-than-air flying machines, including helicopters, parachutes and other aviation devices. He held many patents in the field and also was a practicing patent attorney.
Mr. Meyers applied for his first patent on Jan. 29, 1897, for a helicopter, but his design was rejected by the Patent Office as impractical. The machine was nicknamed by aviators the "Flying Doughnut." It consisted of a stack of four circular wings, increasing in diameter from the bottom wing to the top. The pilot and engine were on struts beneath the stack, with a lifting propeller beneath the pilot's seat.
The machine failed in 1898. In 1904 a better model, tested at Columbus, Ohio, rose six inches from the ground before the engine blew up. It was not until 1926 that a Myers helicopter made a successful flight. Then it made two runs of 1,000 yards each ten feet off the ground on Long Island.
Helicopters were not Mr. Meyers' only interest in the field. He built and flew an airplane at Buffalo, N. Y., in 1909, six years after the historic flight of the Wright brothers. The same year, he got a patent on a gunmount that would make a fighter plane out of an aircraft.
Mr. Meyer; was a member of the Early Birds and other pioneer aviator's societies. In the Spanish-American War, he served as an artilleryman in Puerto Rico.
He was educated at Blair Academy, Blairstown, N. J., Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Cornell University.
His widow survives