Saturday, April 30, 2016

Original Account of Wright Brothers Flying Machine 1904

Originally published in Minneapolis Journal (January 2, 1904)
Wilbur and Orville Wright who are at Kitty Hawk, N.C. experimenting with the aeroplane of their own make and regulated by devices of their own invention. 

The "Wright Flyer" as they call the machine, is a double-decked, curved aeroplane, driven by a small, but powerful gasoline motor, with aerial screw propellers.

The speed was at the rate of thirty-one miles an hour, meaning that they moved at the rate of ten miles an hour against a twenty-one-mile-an-hour wind.

The Wright Flyer is distinctly a flying machine. It has no gas bags or balloon attachments of any kind, but is supported by a pair of aerocurves, or wings, having an area of 510. It measures a little more than 40 feet from tip to tip, and the extreme fore and aft dimension is about 20 feet. The weight, including the body of the aviator, is slightly over 700 pounds. The machine is driven by a pair of aerial screw propellers placed just behind the main wings. The power is supplied by a gasoline motor. It is of the four cycle type and has four cylinders. The pistons are four inches in diameter and have a four inch stroke. At the speed of 1200 revolutions per minute the engine develops sixteen-brake horsepower, with a consumption of a little less than ten pounds of gasoline per hour. The weight including carburettor and fly-wheel, is 152 pounds. The wings, tho apparently very light, have been tested to more than six times the regular load, and it is claimed for the entire structure that it is a practical machine, capable of withstanding the shock of repeated landings, and not a mere toy which much be rebuilt after each flight. The invention is the joint work of the Wright brothers.

The Wright brothers have been engaged in the cycle business in this city [Dayton] for several years and have conducted experiments with their flying machine for the past four years in North Carolina, where they went for a couple of months each winter, combining experimental work with pleasure. They have met with varied success and believe they will yet completely master the problem of aerial navigation.

Orville and Wilbur Wright (The Tacoma Times, December 26, 1903)

The Wright brothers selected Kitty Hawk on the North Carolina coast as a place to conduct their experiments, primarily because of the privacy it offered and because of the existence of a hill of sand just the right height and location from which to launch their invention. The sand hill referred to is known as Kill Devil Hill. It is over 100 feet high and perhaps the highest dune on the Atlantic seaboard. From one side it slopes completely to its summit.

It was in the autumn of 1900 that they located there and began work on their flying machine. They fitted a workshop with tools and machinery shipped to them from various parts of the country, but primarily from Dayton.

One day in the autumn of 1901 the two brought a frail structure from their shop made of wings and tails and fins of silken cloth. They carried this machine to the eastern slope of Kill Devil Hill. At the top of the hill the machine was placed in position and one of the boys stepped inside. The other one gave it a push off the summit. For a distance of 300 feet it glided like a bird and then settled slowly upon the ground. The natives were amazed and the inventors were jubilant.

It was not a flying machine they were experimenting with then. It was simply an aeroplane, or what was to be the body of the airship proper. The aeroplane was taken back to the shop and stored away and the inventors returned home. The next fall they appeared again, and after weeks of work brought forth another aeroplane, which, when launched from Kill Devil Hill, not only sustained the weight of its operator in midair, but sailed along with the wind for a distance of an eighth of a mile. Early this fall they returned to Kitty Hawk and renewed their work. When they brought forth their invention this year a gasolene engine had been installed with it and the first really successful flight was made. 

(Reprinted from the Minneapolis Journal, January 2, 1904)

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