Wright Again

Wright Again

Rainy Day - Sunday, September 21, 1902

The History: Orville recorded in his personal diary that it rained all day. During the day the wind blew from 10-15 meters/second (22-34 miles/hour) and was even stronger during the night.

Wilbur responds to Octave Chanute's letter of September 14th. Come to the camp whenever it is convenient, Wilbur tells Chanute. At 3 P.M. each day a train leaves from Norfolk, Virginia for Elizabeth City, North Carolina. A steamer (a ship propelled by a steam engine) goes from Elizabeth City to Roanoke Island. A hack (short for "hackney, a carriage for hire) carries travelers to Manteo. Spend the night in Manteo, Wilbur advises. The Wrights will arrange a sailboat to meet Chanute at Manteo the next day and transport him to the Outer Banks. Chanute should send a telegram from Norfolk or a letter ahead of time so that the brothers will know his exact travel arrangements.


Map Of Elizabeth City And Outer Banks, North Carolina Area

Kill Devil Hills is cool at night; " ..bring warm clothing" and at least two heavy double blankets, Wilbur warns!

Orville and Wilbur are sleeping in cots attached to the building's roof rafters. The two cots they used last year our available for visitors. However, if Chanute would prefer to sleep aloft they can quickly build more cots. For each cot, Chanute should bring two yards of heavy canvas, sailcloth or duck "about 16-oz would be best", Wilbur writes.

Wilbur goes into great detail regarding the type and weight of fabric Chanute might bring for the cots. The material should be 36 or 40 inch wide and 7 1/2 feet long. "If 10-oz. duck is used it should be doubled. If 16-oz it may be single."

Wilbur tells Chanute that the glider was finished on Friday. The winds have been 4-8 meters/second. Fifty flights have been made since then - the longest the 200 foot glide Wilbur made on Saturday.

Why does Wilbur know so much about fabric? Wilbur has acquired a good feel for cloth, its weight, weave, stiffness and appropriate uses. All the Wright gliders have been covered in fabric. Wilbur has used his sister Katharine's sewing machine to sew the fabric covers for the gliders.

French sateen was used on the 1900 glider. Later gliders used muslin manufactured by "Pride of the West". The fabric used on the 1899 kite had been shellacked. This made the fabric airtight (air would not pass through the fabric reducing lift). Varnishes and shellac are also used to shrink fabric to conform to the underlying framework.

The Wrights conducted tests of small wing models covered with shellacked fabric and tightly woven muslin and were unable to note any differences in lift. The tightly woven muslin was "airtight".

Today fabrics are often classified as light, medium or heavy weight, although you may not see fabric weight specified on a bolt of fabric. Some manufacturers still note the fabric weight, such as 465 grams per meter.

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