Wright Again

Wright Again

George Spratt - Tuesday, September 16, 1902

The History: In his personal diary, Orville noted his observations on some buzzards and their flight. The birds appeared to be unable to soar over the plains and had trouble gaining altitude over the top of a large hill. Orville saw another buzzard fly and glide over flat sand near the ocean. Using telegraph poles as a guide, he recorded the angle of descent of the bird: 6 1/4°.

At 10:30 A.M. they took the glider's upper and lower surfaces out for some tests. The surfaces soared at an angle of 7 1/2°.

In the afternoon they worked on the front rudder's surface. By the end of the day it was ready to attach to the glider's frame.

Wilbur wrote a letter to George Spratt. The brothers heard Spratt might not come to the camp this year. Wilbur hopes he will. He tells Spratt, Dan Tate has been helping them. Although at this point in their work they really do not need another person to help, they would welcome someone "especially if he was as good a companion as I know you to be".

"Everything is so much move favorable this year than last, that it would be a pity to have your ideas of camp life here based on your experience of one year ago." Wilbur then lists all the campsite advantages this year which include:

  • almost no mosquitoes!
  • an improved kitchen;
  • beds on the second floor instead of cots ;
  • cracks in the building have been filled keeping out water and sand;
  • a deep well with good water;
  • a bicycle for traveling;
  • no Huffaker!
  • Wilbur tells Spratt that if he is still contemplating building his own machine, he really should come down to Kitty Hawk. Three machines will be tested: the Wright 1902 glider and Chanute's oscillating wing and multiple-wing machines. If Spratt comes, bring "warm clothing and plenty of bedclothes", Wilbur urges.


    George Spratt of Coatsville, Pennsylvania had served as one of Octave Chanute's assistants at the Kill Devil Hills camp during the 1901 testing. Spratt had some medical training (which would be helpful in case of flight accidents), but had returned to farming. Like the Wrights, he had thought hard about the problem of human flight. He wanted to watch some actual glider experiments.

    Although Orville and Wilbur had found Chanute's other assistants more of a burden than help, they genuinely liked and enjoyed George Spratt. Spratt was a hard worker and good companion with lots of funny stories.

    Edward C. Huffaker of Chuckey, Tennessee also had been an assistant of Octave Chanute's. He had demonstrated the mechanics of birds soaring over columns of hot air (thermals). However, during the 1901 Kitty Hawk tests, the Wrights found him to be inaccurate in his work and rather sloppy, using the Wrights camera box as a stool and leaving instruments in the sand. As well he liked to lecture the Wrights on "character building". Once Huffaker had arrived at the campsite in 1901, the Wrights were unable to get as much work done.


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