Story: Professor Wing of the University of Colorado's geology department was an accomplished field man when an accident crippled one of his legs. He envisioned the recently developed steam turbine engine as a way for him to continue his study of field geology despite the handicap. In 1885, he designed and constructed an apparatus which enabled him and his equipment to travel to remote sites of interest without the now impossible task of hiking.
When unveiling his creation to the people of Denver, they asked, "What is it?"
"Is it a bird? Is it a train?"
One bystander shouted "It's hoppin' mad, that's what it is!"
The name stuck.
The cockpit's instruments were mainly primitive fluid gauges: thermometers and pitotstatic tubes on the pilot's left
could monitor airspeed and altitude. The pilot harness was a novel concept in a time when "vehicle safety" was
measured in the caliber of the weaponry carried by the driver.
Off on another mission of adventure, excitement, and geology!
Prof. Wing continued his career, contributing to many geological discoveries in the wild western U.S.
The cockpit was designed for maximum pilot visibility, and is unarmored as it was never meant to carry armament.
However, a few copies were built under licence by European manufacturers and refitted as short range zeppelin escorts
due to their low speed maneuverability and Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capability.