" Stabilator / Fre-Wing "

Popular Science (May 1931)

"Free-Winged Plane Able To Fly Itself"

Successfully demonstrating in test flights that it practically can fly itself, land or take off without the aid of a pilot and cannot stall, spin, sideslip or stunt, a new "free-wings" airplane is scheduled to be produced on a large scale by its Los Angeles designer, G. Wilbur Cornelius.

The monoplane differs from orthodox aircraft in that its wings are not rigidly fixed to the fuselage by are free moving, automatically adjusting themselves to air bumps, acting as elevators and ailerons combined.

Attached to the trailing edge of each wing is a paddle-like trigger assembly --- "stabilators" that can be adjusted so the ship will maintain any desired gliding or climbing angle.

All the pilot has to do in landing is to cut of the plane's motor and set the stabilators for the correct gliding angle. The craft is steered by a conventional rudder at the tail, but its free moving wings automatically put the plane into a bank while turning.

Tests showed that the craft cannot stall because the center of gravity is located so as to cause the wings and stabilators automatically to keep the craft in a position that will not allow it to lose flying speed. The plane can be force into off-center maneuvers, but rights itself to an even flying keel when the pilot takes his hands off the controls.

Popular Science (July 1932)

"Floating Edge on Wing Keeps Plane Out of Tail Spin"

An airplane designed by G.W. Cornelius, California aviator and inventor, has wings hinged at the front so that the trailing edges can move up and down in response to variations in wind pressure and "bumps" in the air. He claims that a tailspin is impossible with this construction, and that the plane will fly virtually without manual control.

This remarkable plane ha no ailerons as used on conventional types of ships, the 13-degree movement of the wings making them unnecessary. Not in the picture below the dropped position of the wings with relation to the fixed center, and the special supports to the trailing edges of the wings as pointed out by Cornelius.


This airplane landed once at Clover Field, on Tuesday, October 20, 1931. It was flown by George Wilbur Cornelius, who designed, manufactured and owned the airplane. He carried a single unidentified passenger. "Grand Central" was written in the arrived from column. Below, from, is a photograph of NX182W.

Cornelius Fre-Wing, Model PW-1, NX182W, Date Unknown (Source: Cornelius Free-Wing, Model PW-1, NX182W, Date Unknown (Source:

The design of PW-1 NX182W was an open cockpit, single high-parasol wing, with variable incidence via hinges at the center section. The wing was free to change its incidence. It had unusual trailing ailerons under the wing, which were later removed. It was powered by a single 125HP Menasco B-4 engine. It had a wingspan of 30'6" and a length of 20'6." It was the only example built of this model.

Cornelius and his airplane made the rounds of west coast environs during the early 1930s. Documents posted at Cornelius' page linked above cite his flights to San Francisco, San Diego and Agua Caliente, Mexico. As well, NX183W appears fifteen times in the Grand Central Air Terminal Register during 1931.

According to, the history of the company that built this airplane was as follows. In 1930, its founder George Wilbur Cornelius established the Cornelius Aircraft Co. at Glendale CA. About 1935 the company moved to Van Nuys CA; in 1940 to Dayton OH. In 1941, it was renamed the Cornelius-Hoepli Co.

Over a dozen years or so, Cornelius and his company designed and built four types for a total of six airplanes. All are summarized at the Cornelius link. More information about the Cornelius designs, and photographs, are available at this link.

No. 12041. Cornelius FreWing (NX182W c/n PW-1)

09/30/2013. In the mid-1920 George Wilbur Cornelius started a program of experimentation on variable-incidence wings. No technical reports on the results of his work appear to have been published and little is known about the four types he produced. In 1930 George Wilbur Cornelius formed Cornelius Aircraft Co. at Glendale, California.

The first aircraft, the FreWing, was designed by Cornelius and C.C. Spangenberger. It was a parasol monoplane single-seater in which the incidence of the mainplanes was adjusted differentially like ailerons, and collectively like elevators in conjunction with a stabilator tailplane. Initially, each mainplane had a servo surface extending behind it on two booms attached to the undersurface, but these were later removed as unnecessary. The engine was an 125 hp Menasco B-4. Span was 30 ft 6 in (9.30m), length was 20 ft 6 in (6.25 m).

Next came the low-wing two-seater LW-1 (X13706) which used the short-lived four-cylinder inverted in-line 120 hp Martin 133 engine and had the same control system. It was, no doubt, intended to improve performance by dispensing with the drag of the multiple strutting needed for its parasol predecessor.

The Mallard (NX34212) was a forward swept-winged tailless monoplane with a 130 hp Franklin flat-four engine. With a comfortable side-by-side two-seating it was demonstrated publicly by Alfred Reitherman. It was clearly intended to lead to production, but none resulted. Possible customers were no doubt wary of the variable-incidence wing as a new and unknown feature, and the 125 mph cruising speed quoted may have been projected rather than actual, considering it was described as 700 lb overweight and underpowered.

The 677 gal (2,563 l) experimental fuelling glider XFG-1 incorporated Cornelius' experience with swept-forward wings and was intended to be towed pilotless with the controls locked. After the fuel was transferred to the towplane, it was to be cast off and abandoned. An alternative use was as a piloted fuel carrier, jettisoning its undercarriage after take-off, and landing at its destination on two skids at the bottom of the fuselage.

The incidence of the XFG-1 wing was adjustable on the ground at 3°, 5° and 7°. With a swept-forward wing, an increase in incidence raises the wingtips and produces dihedral, which may explain why some accounts describe the adjustment as variable-dihedral. Two were produced for the USAAF in 1945 by the Spartan Aircraft Corporation at Tulsa, Oklahoma, under the serials 44-28059, 44-28060. Thirteen flights were made in prototype 44-28059 by Reitherman, on the last of which he was killed after failing to recover from a spin. The second machine, 44-28060, made 19 flights, but work was discontinued with the end of WW II.

US Patent # 1,865,744


George W. Cornelius
(July 5, 1932)

This invention relates particularly to airplanes.

An object to the invention is to provide an airplane assembly including fuselage, wings, tail, and propeller, arranged so that the propeller, wings and tail, individually or collectively, may be moved out of a normal position relative to the fuselage to control directional movement of the airplane.

A further object of the invention is to provide an airplane fuselage having wings projected from opposite sides of said fuselage, each wing on each side of the fuselage being independent of the other and being rotatably secured to the said fuselage to be moved above or below a predetermined normal position.

A still further object of the invention is to provide an airplane fuselage having wings on opposite sides thereof, in a substantially horizontal position, adapted to be rotated above or below a horizontal plane, said wings being connected to a mounting supporting the propulsion medium, and to a mounting supporting the tail, whereby the said propulsion medium, wings and tail may be moved in synchronism to steer the airplane into any selected line of flight.

Other objects of the invention are to provide a device of the character described that will be superior in point of simplicity, inexpensiveness of construction, positiveness of operation, and facility and convenience in use and general efficiency.

Other objects and advantages will appear as this description progresses.

In this specification and the annexed drawings, the invention is illustrated in the form considered to be the best, but it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to such form, because it may be embodied in other forms, and it is also to be understood that in and by the claims following the description, it is desired to cover the invention in whatsoever form it may be embodied.

In the accompanying drawings,

Figure 1 represents a plan view of an airplane having a wing and fuselage constructed in accordance with my invention.

Figure 2 is an enlarged cross-section taken through Figure 1 on the line 2-2.

Figure 3 is an end view of a fragmentary portion of the fuselage and one of the wings to show the wing supporting structure.

Figure 4 is an enlarged cross section taken through the joint where the wing is secured to the fuselage, on the line 4-4 of Figure 2.

Figure 5 is an enlarged cross section taken on line 5-5 of Figure 3, showing a method of movably confining the movable edge of the airplane wing to the fuselage.

Figure 6 is an enlarged section taken through Figure 3 on the line 6-6 to show a method of moveably securing the wing structure to the fuselage.

Figure 7 is a diagrammatic side elevation of an airplane having a wing structure mounted thereon in accordance with my invention, connected to the mechanism for manipulating said wing and also showing the controlling mechanism connected to a propeller mounting and tail mounting to be moved in synchronism with the wings or independently thereof.

Figure 8 is a plan view of Figure 7.

Figure 9 is a side elevation of a fragmentary portion of an airplane of the biplane type in which both of the planes are connected to the fuselage by the same form of connection as that employed in securing the single plane shown in Figure 7 to the fuselage.

Figure 10 is a side elevation of the controlling mechanism for the wing, engine mounting and tail.

Figure 11 is a rear view of Figure 10.

Figure 12 is a side elevation of a portion of Figure 11 taken on the line 12-12 of Figure 11.

In detail, the construction illustrated in the drawings comprises an airplane fuselage generally designated b numeral 1. As in conventional airplane construction, the fuselage is provided with wings 2 and 3 on opposite sides of the forward end of the fuselage, forming a monoplane, and shown in Figure 9 with a pair of wings 4 and 5 on each of the opposite sides of the fuselage to form a biplane. The forward end of the fuselage 1 has a motor 6 universally mounted therein, to which a propeller 7 is secured. The rear end of the fuselage had a tail 8 flexibly mounted thereon.

In a conventional type of airplane, either of the monoplane or biplane type, the wings are fixedly secured to opposite sides of the fuselage, and an aileron A is mounted on the trailing edge thereof, to control the balance of the airplane in flight, and to maintain a relatively stable equilibrium of the said airplane during flight. Likewise, airplane engines are ordinarily mounted in fixed position within the forward end of the fuselage, and the rear end of the said fuselage is provided with a rudder and a tail controlled by the operator for steering the plane either to the right or left and upwardly or downwardly. From my experiments, I have discovered that the wings 2 and 3 of an airplane may be pivotally mounted on opposite sides of the fuselage 1 so as to have a limited movement above or below a horizontal level to effect a stable equilibrium of the airplane while in the air, with the same effect that the balance of the airplane is accomplished through the medium of the ailerons. Obviously, the movement of the wings above or below a predetermined horizontal flying position will either hasten the ascent or descent of the airplane, or hasten the turning of the plane either to the right or to the left, this to increase the efficiency of the plane in moving in any direction in the air beyond what the directional movement of the airplane would be when controlled by the conventional aileron and tail and rudder system.

The wings 2 and 3 are each provided with a tapered tubular support 9 therein, each support in turn having laterally disposed tubular supporting webs 10 extending therefrom along its entire length, to form a foundation for the wing covering, to be mounted around and to enclose the entire tubular assembly. Each of the main supports 9 are closed at 11 at the meeting ends, so that the interiors of said supports may be used as fluid supply tanks. The ends 11 of the wing supports 9 meet centrally within the fuselage, secured adjacent the upper part of the fuselage. Each support 9 is provided with a bolt 13 thereon that projects through a slot 14 in the bearing, and nut 15 is secured to each bolt to hold the wing supports 9 from becoming axially displaced. The slot in the bearing 12 permits the supports 9 to have a limited rotative movement.

In view of the fact that the construction of each wing is identical, the following description will be confined to one wing only, and it is to be understood that a similar construction and operation applies to the other wing structure assembly. I do no intend to rely wholly upon the wing supports 9, mounted in the fuselage bearing, to carry the entire stress of the wing in flight, as I have discovered that it is better to reinforce the wing structure by means apart from the main bearing.

Adjacent the trailing edge of the wing, next to where same abuts the fuselage 1, I have provided a bracket 16 having a roller 17 rotatively mounted thereon and with an end thrust roller 18 journaled across the end of said bracket. Both of the rollers 17 and 18 are movably confined within an arcuate and channel shaped guideway 19 that is secured to the outside of the fuselage 1. The length of the arcuate guide is determined, to regulate the length of the swinging movement which it is desired that the wings shall have. The channel shaped guideway 19 holds the wing rollers 17 and 18 therein, allowing said rollers to move freely in the guideway, as the wing is turned relative to the fuselage. The rollers in the guide way 19 prevent the edge of the wing 2 from getting out of abutting contact with the fuselage 1.

Each of the wings 2 and 3 are also provided with struts 21 secured to a mediate portion of the wing, and said struts extend downwardly through an arcuate guide 22 provided along the bottom of the fuselage. The end 23 of each strut 21 within the arcuate slot 22 is provided with rollers 24 rotatably mounted thereon, to permit the lower end of said strut to move relatively free from one end of the guide way to the other. An end 25 of the strut 21 extends through the fuselage into the interior thereof, and is provided with an eyelet 26 thereon to which a control wire 27 may be fastened that connects to the operator's control stick 28, for tilting the wing above or below its normal horizontal pane, according to the desires of the airplane operator.

The control stick 28 for moving the wings upwardly or downwardly, consists of a pair of spaced members 29 and 30 having a bearing block 31 rotatably mounted therebetween. The bearing block is rotatably mounted on a fixed shaft 32 that extends transversely across and is secured to the airplane fuselage. The fixed shaft 32 permits the control stick 28 to be moved fore and aft or rotated therearound within a limited degree, and at the same time the control stick may be rotated sideways in either direction. A shaft 33 is journaled across the upper end of the control stick 28, and has a steering wheel 34 mounted on an end thereof. The shaft 34 is also equipped with a pair of teethed sprockets 35 and 36 thereon, confined between the opposite sides 29 and 30 of the control stick. An idler pulley 37 is rotatively mounted adjacent the lower end of the control stick. A chain 38 passes around the sprocket 35 on the upper end of the control stick, and one end of said chain is fastened to a wire 39 that passes around the lower pulley 37 in the control stick, and then passes around a pulley 40 on the side of the fuselage 1 and thence is connected to the end 26 of the strut support of the wing 2 that extends within the fuselage. The opposite end of the chain has a wire 41 connected thereto that extends around the lower pulley 37 in the control stick and continues to the opposite side of the fuselage, passing around a pulley thereon, 42, and thence to connection with the lower end 26 of the strut 1 of the wing 3 that extends within the fuselage.

A chain 43 extends around the other sprocket 36 on the steering wheel shaft, and thence around a pulley 44 that is journaled on the control stick 28 directly beneath the sprockets on the upper end of said stick. One end of the chain 43 has a wire 45 secured thereto that passes around a pulley 46 on one side of the fuselage 1 and thence around a pulley 47 positioned to the rear of the arcuate guideway 22 and thence to connection with the strut end 26 of wing 3. Rotative movement of the steering wheel 34 will cause the wing 2 on one side of the fuselage to be elevated while the wing 3 on the opposite side of the fuselage will be lowered. This selective movement of the wings in opposite directions will control the turning movement of the airplane in exactly the same manner as a conventional airplane may be turned through the medium of the ailerons. It should be noticed the wire connections from the control stick 28 to the wings extend from opposite ends of the pivotal center of the control stick. Thus by swinging the control stick 28 about its pivotal axis 32, both of the wings 2 and 3 on the opposite sides of the fuselage 1 may be moved simultaneously in either an upward or downward direction. My method of mounting the airplane wings 2 and 3 on the fuselage, permits said wings to be simultaneously moved in opposite directions, and also permits both of the wings to be raised or lowered in unison. Although I have described particularly the method of operating the wings of an airplane of the monoplane type, exactly the same operation takes place with an airplane of the biplane type, as shown in Figure 9. The wings 4 and 5 shown in Figure 9 being raised or lowered through the same type of mechanism as that heretofore described.

In Figure 7 of the drawings, I have shown an engine 6 that is universally mounted in the fore end of the fuselage 1. The engine 6 is provided with a propeller 7 thereon, and the universal mounting of the engine is such that the propeller and engine may be moved out of a normal position in axial alignment with the fuselage into any selected angular position of any desired line of flight. The universal mounting of the engine in the airplane fuselage is more particularly illustrated and described in the pending application that I have filed. The engine mounting 6 is provided with four wires, 50, 51, 52, and 53 thereon that lead to opposite ends and opposite sides of the pilot's control stick 28 so that the engine and propeller may be moved in any desired direction.

The airplane tail 8 mounted at the rear end of the fuselage, is universally secured to the said fuselage 1 in a ball mounting, whereby said tail may be moved up or down and to the right or left, through control means connected to the operator's stick 28. This ball mounting for the tail is more particularly illustrated and described in a separate pending application. The tail 8 is provided with an arm 55 that extends into the interior of the fuselage of the airplane, and said arm has two bars 56 and 57 arranged at right angles to each other, secured at the end of said arm 55. Control wires 58, 59, 60 and 61 are suitably connected to the ends of the cross bars 56 and 57, and said wires are passed around pulleys 62 and are joined to the ends of cross bars 63 and 64 that extend out from the stick 28 at the point of its pivotal connection to the fuselage. Thus, as the operator turns the control stick 28 forward or backward or turns it to the right or left, the wires connecting the stick 28 to the tail 8 cause the tail 8 to be moved either to the right or left or up or down. The tail of any airplane is used to control the up and down movement of the said vehicle, and to balance the said vehicle while in flight. In a case where the airplane would be out of balance, or the weight carried by the plane would be improperly stowed, and the said airplane would be in a more or less unstable condition, this condition would be rectified by forcing the tail out of the normal operating position to compensate for the unstableness of the plane. In the event that the tail 8 would have to continuously be maintained above or below its normal horizontal position, it would require the aviator pilot to hold the control stick 28 either forward or backward of its normal vertical position, to maintain the tail in the proper balanced operating position. Obviously, this would have the effect of placing the wings 2 and 3 or the propeller mounting 6 slightly out of the normal position. Therefore, in order to maintain the propeller mounting and the wings in a normal position of flight, and to allow the tail 8 to remain out of normal position, I provide a pair of wires 65 and 66 that are connected to the top and bottom of the arm 55 that extends into the fuselage from the tail 8. these wires 65 and 66, at their forward ed are provided with a sprocket chain 67 that passes around a sprocket 68 journaled on the control stick supporting shaft 31. The sprocket 68 is provided with a casing 69 thereon in which a latch member 70 is reciprocatingly mounted. The latch member 70 registers with the toothed rack 71 that is fixedly mounted in the stick 28. Thus, where the control stick 28 is out of its normal vertical position to hold the tail up or down to keep the airplane in proper flying position, the latch 70 permits the sprocket wheel 68 to be turned to maintain the tail 8 in its out-of-the-normal position but to allow the control stick 28 to be moved into its true vertical position. The disalignment of the tail control 8 relative to the propeller 7 and wings 2 and 3 can be corrected by moving the sprocket wheel 68 relative to the control stick 28 after the cause of the unstable condition of the airplane has been removed.

Having thus described this invention, what I claim and desire to secure by Letters Patent is: [Claims not included here]

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