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Ben T. Epps and his 1907 Monoplane — man and machine ahead of their time

8 February 2013

Ben T. Epps and his 1907 Monoplane — man and machine ahead of their time

Ben T. Epps is considered the Father of Georgia’s aviation and had a 30 year career ending in a fatal aviation accident. What a 30 years it was! During 1907, at the unbelievably youthful age of 19, he designed and built an aircraft after becoming inspired by the Wright Brothers success and standing upon their shoulders. Innovation came from within as, unlike the Wrights, his Epps 1907 Monoplane had wheels, a seat, a single wing and used a hill instead of a catapult and rail to gain airspeed for taking off — incredibly, less than four years after the historic flight made by the Wright Brothers in the Wright Flyer. 

Ben Epps placed the rudder well to the rear for best leverage — photo by Joseph May

This formerly flying replica of this Epps 1907 Monoplane was made by John D. Pruett (which he termed JP3 with the FAA) and is exhibited in the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum (use the search window to find many more posts regarding this museum and its aircraft).

Lightweight bicycle wheels, pilot seat and single wing are marks of the prescience of Ben T. Epps 1907 Monoplane design — photo by Joseph May

Ben Epp’s garage building still stands in Athens GA as does a statue across from this historic site very near the northeast corner of E Washington St and N Lumpkin St (33º 57′ 33″ N / 83º 22′ 37″ W) — information about lifelike bronze statue can be found at this Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation link.

More about Ben Epps can be read at this New Georgia Encyclopedia link.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Larry champion permalink
    8 February 2013 20:05

    I find it interesting that this 1907 monoplane has ailerons. When he designed and built his 1908 plane, he went back to warping the wings instead of ailerons. I suspect the wright/curtis lawsuits had some effect on that decision.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      15 February 2013 12:44

      After reading so must about the lawsuit you referenced (and has been written about from time to time in this blog) I suspect that you are hitting the nail on the head. Thaks for making the comparison between the 1907 and 1908 Ebb designs — quite enlightening :)

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