R.Mikesh, A.Shorzoe Japanese Aircraft, 1910-1941 (Putnam)
The man most acclaimed for powered heavier-than-air flight in Japan is Kazuhachi Ninomiya (born in 1865). Ninomiya became the first Japanese to fly a rubber-powered model aeroplane, on 29 April, 1891. The wings of his craft were shaped like those of a crow, since as a youth in Ehime Prefecture, Ninomiya had studied the crow's flying characteristics in his efforts to solve the mysteries of flight. After this first success with his model, he made an even larger model aeroplane with a wing span of 3.2m (10ft 6in) powered with a clock spring driving a pusher propeller. Since it was inspired by the shape of an insect called Tamamushi, his craft was given that name.
Because of its success, Ninomiya offered the plans of his aeroplane to the Army, with which he was now serving during the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). He saw the potential of such a man-carrying flying machine as an aerial spotter but his proposal fell upon deaf ears. Dejected, on leaving the Army Ninomiya joined a pharmaceutical company in the hope of saving enough to build his own man-carrying aircraft, but upon hearing of the success of the Wright brothers in 1903, he abandoned his efforts.
As time passed, Lt-Gen Gaishi Nagaoka, former Chief of Staff of the Ohshima Army Brigade during the War, and who was responsible for rejecting Ninomiya's plans, made him a public apology, and in 1925 he was officially commended by the Minister of Communications and awarded a medal of merit by the Teikoku Hiko Kyokai (Imperial Flying Association:) as Japan's aviation pioneer. In return, Ninomiya, who was by then an executive in the pharmaceutical company, established a shrine dedicated to the development of aviation in Japan.