Their Own Words
William J. Hammer visited the Wright brothers in Dayton, Ohio early in
1906, he reported back to the Aero Club of America that the Wrights had
done everything they claimed. They had indeed flown –
not once, but many times. The Aero Club then requested that the Wrights
prepare an account of their experiments with powered flight, which the
Club would endorse. The
Wrights responded with this succinct report. It was the first time
that Wilbur and Orville announced their successful flights of 1904 and
1905 at Huffman Prairie to the general public.
through the labors of Prof. Langley, Mr. Chanute and others, had
acquired not less than 10 years ago the recognized leadership in the
branch of aeronautics which pertains to birdlike flight, it has not
heretofore been possible for American workers to present a summary of
each year’s experiments to a society of their own country devoted
exclusively to the promotion of aeronautical studies and sports. It is
with great pleasure, therefore, that we now find ourselves to make a
report to such a society.
Previous to the
year 1905, we had experimented at Kitty Hawk, NC, with man carrying
gliding machines in the years 1900, 1901, 1902, and 1903, and with a man
carrying motor flyer, which on December 17, 1903, sustained itself in
the air for 59 seconds, during which time it advanced against a 20-mile
wind a distance of 852 feet.
Flights to the
number of more than 100 had also been made at Dayton, Ohio in 1904 with
a second motor flyer. Of these flights, a complete circle, made for the
first time on September 20, and two flights of three miles each, made on
November 9 and December 1 respectively were the most notable
The object of the
1905 experiments was to determine and discover remedies for several
obscure and somewhat rare difficulties which had been encountered in
some of the 1904 flights, and which it was necessary to overcome before
it would be safe to employ Flyers for practical purposes.
||Cause of stopping.
||Exhaustion of fuel
|| Exhaustion of fuel
||Exhaustion of fuel
were made in a swampy meadow about eight miles east of Dayton and
continued from June until the early days of October when the
impossibility of longer maintaining privacy necessitated their
Owing to many
experimental changes in the machine and the resulting differences in its
management, the earlier flights were short, but toward the middle of
September means of correcting troubles were found and the flyer was at
last brought under satisfactory control. From this time forward almost
every flight established a new record.
It will be seen
that an average speed of a little more than 38 miles an hour was
maintained in the last flight. All of the flights were made over a
circular course of about three-fourths of a mile to the lap, which
reduced the speed somewhat.
increased its velocity on the straight parts of the course and slowed
down on the curves. It is believed that in straight flight the normal
speed is more than 40 miles an hour.
In the earlier of
the flights named above less than six pounds of gasoline was carried. In
the later ones a tank was fitted large enough to hold fuel for an hour,
but by oversight it was not completely filled before the flight of
In the last three
years, a total of 160 flights have been made with our motor-driven
flyers, and a total distance of almost exactly 160 miles covered, an
average of a mile to each flight. But until the machine had received its
final improvements the flights were mostly short, as is evidenced by the
fact that the flight of October 5 was longer than the 105 flights of the
year 1904 together.
The lengths of the
flights were measured by a Richard anemometer, which was attached to the
machine. The records were found to agree closely, with distances
measured over the ground when the flights were made in calm air over a
straight course; but when the flights were made in circles a close
comparison was impossible because it was not practicable to accurately
trace the course over the ground.
In the flight of
October 5 a total of 20.7 circuits of the field was made. The times were
taken with stop watches.
In operating the
machine it has been our custom for many years to alternate in making
flights, and such care has been observed that neither of us has suffered
any serious injury, though in the earlier flights our ignorance and the
inadequacy of the means of control made the work exceedingly dangerous.
The 1905 flyer had
a total weight of about 925 pounds, including the operator, and was of
such substantial construction as to be able to make landings at high
speed without being constrained or broken.
From the beginning
the prime object was to device a machine of practical utility, rather
than a useless and extravagant toy. For this reason extreme lightness of
construction has always been resolutely rejected. On the other hand,
every effort has been made to increase the scientific efficiency of the
wings and screws, in order that even heavily built machines may be
carried with a moderate expenditure of power.
results which have been obtained have been due to improvements in flying
quality because of more scientific design and to improved methods of
balancing and steering.
The motor and
machinery poses no extraordinary qualities. The best dividends on the
labor invested have invariably come from seeking more knowledge rather
than more power.
In view of the fact
that all of the flights which have been mentioned were made in private,
it is proper that the names of persons who witnessed one or more of them
should be given.
We therefore name
E. W. Ellis, assistant auditor of the city of Dayton; Torrence Huffman,
president of the Fourth National Bank; C. S. Billman, secretary of the
West Side Building Association; Henry Webbert, W. H. Shank, William
Fouts, Frank Hamburger, Charles Webbert, Howard M. Myers, Bernard H.
Lambers, William Webbert, Reuben Schindler, William Weber, all of
Dayton, Ohio; and O. F. Jamieson of East Germantown, Indiana, Theodore
Waddell of the census department, Washington, D. C., David Beard of
Osborn, Ohio, and Amos Stauffer of Osborn, Ohio.