Oops .... An Accident - Tuesday, September 23, 1902
The History: The hand controls for the front rudder of the 1901 machine had been reversed in the 1902 glider. The Wrights practiced with the new controls to be sure they learned the new procedures and did not move the machine up when they meant to go down.
Wilbur wrote to Octave Chanute describing their progress. Today they made about 75 glides and were very encouraged by the results.
There was one "slight catastrophe", as Wilbur put it. This was Orville's first day of free glides of the year. Orville was practicing and oops .... used to the old controls he did not adjust the front rudder down. Although Wilbur and Dan Tate shouted warnings, their voices were drowned out by the wind. The machine pitched up to 25-30 feet off of the sand and with one wing down, Orville and the glider came crashing down.
Orville wrote in his personal diary, "The result was a heap of flying machine, cloth, and sticks in a heap with me in the center without a bruise or a scratch." Orville was unhurt but 2-3 days of repairs would be needed on the machine, Wilbur wrote Octave Chanute. In spite of this accident, the brothers were very pleased with the machine's performance today.