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Aviation pioneer, railway engineer
(1832–1910) aerial navigator; born in Paris, France. Brought to America when his family emigrated in 1838, he went on to a successful career as a civil engineer, building iron railroad bridges. His favorite pastime, however, was the study of aerial navigation; he conducted the first scientific experiments in America on gliding (1896–97) and then built a biplane glider that the Wright Brothers used as a model for their first glider. In addition to actually flying gliders, he wrote pioneering works about the engineering and navigational problems of flight.