Drop Tower Catapult History

During the beginnings of the Wright brothers endeavors to build a machine capable of flight, there were multiple parameters they had to consider. A critical component of this venture was the launch of the flight prototype. The Wright brothers had constructed the Flyer II which weighed 780 pounds and had a wing camber ratio is 1:25 rather than the previous 1:20 of Flyer I. the launching mechanism for the Flyer II was a drop tower that would use the gravitational potential energy of an elevated weight to provide enough thrust for launch. This drop tower resembled the structural components of oil derricks at the time. The tower itself was constructed of two separate derricks made out of wooden poles 20 feet in length. The tower would suspend a weight of 600 pounds about 20 feet off of the ground.  A rope connected to a simple pulley that is in turn  connected the mechanism holding the weight and would run down the tower and all the way underneath the track of about 70 feet. Once at the end of the track, the rope would wrap around the end of the track and then ultimately all the way back to the tower and connect to the launcher. As a result this launcher would have the weight pull the rope down the track and launch the Flyer II