[Between 2009 and 2011, I maintained a TypePad blog, “More Fiends,” intended to update my book Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines. Those posts can still be found in the archive.org Wayback Machine, but I stopped updating that site in 2011. Because this WordPress site promotes and updates all my books, I’d like to republish some of those earlier posts.]
I didn’t mention it in Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines, but Alfred W. Lawson was granted a patent previous to his one in the mid-1920s for the double-tier seating compartment. While working on his military trainer planes in Green Bay WI in 1917-1918, Lawson developed an aid to airplane controls. At that time, many planes had a foot control the pilot used to move the tail rudder. It was a wood bar that the pilot would slide forward either on its left side or right side, similar to this rudder from a reconstructed Curtiss plane:
Apparently one problem with the rudder bar was that the pilot’s boot heels might drag against the floor, and cause a sudden jerk to the rudder, resulting in wild motion. Lawson’s invention was a boot heel that included a ball in a socket joint. The ball would roll on the floor preventing any uneven drag:
I have no information on whether this was ever used or manufactured. The rudder bar continued in use, but in many planes it was replaced with two separate foot pedals.