By many measures, Richard Pearse’s most famous attempt at powered flight was largely unsuccessful.
His home-made craft was aloft for just seconds and it carried him perhaps 330 feet before dumping him unceremoniously in a prickly hedge on his property near Waitohi, a small farming community in New Zealand’s South Island.

Except for one disputed fact it would have been long forgotten. Best estimates put the date of that flight at March 31, 1903 — nearly nine months before the Wright brothers made what is widely recognized as the world’s first powered flight.

Although debate continues about whether Pearse’s efforts preceded or bettered the Wright brothers, this month New Zealand is celebrating the centenary of his achievements with an air pageant near his old home town.
More here.