Frederick Muller's Homemade Glider, San Francisco, California, 1908

Dr. Brad Muller, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Frederick A. Muller (my grandfather), age 14, getting ready to test his homebuilt hanglider in West Clay Park in San Francisco in 1908. San Francisco has plenty of wind and, in those days, plenty of sand dunes on which to attempt a flight.  We had heard the family lore about Grandpa Fred building a glider, but these pictures were found in a box of old family photos long after he died in 1964, so we never got to ask him whether he ever got off the ground; obviously, whatever happened with the "flight," he did live to have children and grandchildren! This picture appears to be posed with several members of the crowd holding up the glider so that his feet are off the ground.

Back then, flying was rare enough that anything to do with the brand new field of aviation drew a crowd in their Sunday best.

My grandfather liked to build things.  He was not exactly an aeronautical engineer, but he tried to copy some of what he saw in pictures of the Wright Flyer. 

Fred Muller (left), age 14, with an unknown helper.  Back then San Francisco was a lot less crowded: you could park your glider on the street and nobody cared!

Fred was good at mechanical things, and later became a theater projectionist, a job that at that time required rapid mechanical troubleshooting under pressure.  He would routinely take his car apart in the morning for  repairs, then put it back together in time to get to work in the afternoon for his job at the theater.

Regarding this glider, the aeronautical engineers we have talked to wonder if the wingspan was big enough to get him off the ground and fly.
  But he was a pretty skinny kid, and the family lore is that a very short flight indeed was made.  Of course, we'll never know...

Acknowledgments to my brother, Randy Muller,  for unearthing these photos, scanning them, them supplying related information.

All contents of this page Copyright 2010 by Bradley M. Muller.