Melvin Vaniman

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Melvin Vaniman (1866–1912) was an American aero inventor, registering patents in the US, Great Britain, and France, and "resident in France".

French Patent 360,141 as shown in BOPI
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1909 advertisement in L'Aérophile for Vaniman's engineering services, mentioning some patented technologies.

Vaniman was a world traveller who moved to Hawaii, then New Zealand, then Europe. While down under he developed techniques for photography from heights using poles and masts. In 1905 he moved to Paris and in 1906 worked on an unsuccessful airplane.[1]

He created a triplane which went on display at the 1908 Paris Aeronautical Salon.[1]

He worked on Walter Wellman's polar exploration vessel, the America. Its first mission was unsuccessful. Vaniman participated in the next mission, in 1909, and piloted the America under difficult conditions. Vaniman and Wellman attempted to cross the Atlantic in America, starting from Atlantic City on 15 October 1910 with six men and a cat. The engine malfunctioned and they didn't make it but they did set a distance record by traveling 1,0008 miles.[1]

With sponsorship from Goodyear Vaniman tried another Atlantic crossing, in a blimp called Akron. After some dangerous happenings on the last trip he wanted a sturdier cloth, and Goodyear investigated rubber and silk combinations, etc., but none were perfected in time for use on the Akron. The airship set off from Atlantic City on 2 July 1912 with Melvin Vaniman, his brother Calvin, and a crew of three others, rising 2000 feet quickly then crashing into the ocean, killing everyone on board.[1]

Patents whose inventor or applicant is Melvin VanimanPublications by or about Melvin Vaniman
Names Melvin Vaniman
Birth date 1866
Death date 1912
Countries US, NZ, ?
Locations Hawaii
Tech areas LTA, airplane, photography
Affiliations Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Adam Rovner, "Melvin Vaniman: Forgotten Aviation Pioneer", American History, April 2006.