Who Invented The Rivet? A “Riveting” Bit Of Aviation History.

Rivets on the outside of a plane

The Rivet is as critical to airplane construction as the lightweight aluminum from which they are made. It did not take long for engineers to determine that the dome head rivet was causing a lot of drag, leading to the development of the flush rivet. History gives Howard Hughes credit for both the butt joint and the flush head rivet. Both techniques were used on his H-1 racer which first flew in 1935. While Hughes was a wizard of self promotion and a certainly capable of engineering advances, neither the flush rivet or butt joints are his!

Charles Ward Hall of the Hall-Aluminum Aircraft Corporation submitted a patent proposal for a flush rivet in 1926. Hall’s Buffalo, New York company produced the first aircraft with a riveted fuselage in 1929 with his XFH Naval Fighter Prototype. The first aircraft with butt joints and flush rivets to fly was the Hall PH flying boat of 1929. While Hughes should be recognized for many accomplishments, the flush rivet is not one of them!

Check out what kinds of rivets are used today in the Aerospace industry.

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