Wright Again

Wright Again

Chanute Writes From Washington, D.C. - Thursday, October 16, 1902

The History: The winds were light all day and their gliding attempts from the east side of Big Hill were not successful.

Octave Chanute had left the Wright brothers' camp with his assistant Augustus Herring on October 14th. He wrote Wilbur a letter when he reached Washington, D.C. on his way home to Chicago.

The Wrights hoped to stay longer at their North Carolina camp and continue testing the 1902 glider. Chanute inquired about the Wrights extending their departure date at the train ticket office. He reported to Wilbur that to stay longer they would need to purchase another ticket for the later date. They could return the unused portion of their existing tickets and obtain a refund in a week.

Chanute tells Wilbur that both Professor Marvin and Professor Albert Zahm would be glad to see the Wrights if they are in Washington. Chanute spoke with Samuel Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian, only for an instant. [Langley wrote a letter to Chanute the next day apologizing that he had another engagement.]

The Wrights had agreed to conduct some tests of Chanute's machines. Chanute cautions Wilbur: "When you test the oscillating-wing machine please test it carefully with a bag of sand to adjust the springs before you trust a man on it. The joints and wires are the weak points, and I would forego full tests if there was danger of any of you getting hurt."

Bill Tate had dinner with the Wrights. In the early evening they went "to the old Haman house" where a variety of birds could be found.


Both Langley and Zahm were conducting flight experiments. Langley built and tested his version of a powered aircraft just before the Wright brothers. Later the Smithsonian (not Langley) would claim Langley's machine had made the first successful powered flight and dispute the Wrights had been first to fly. Zahm had the first wind tunnel in America at Catholic University. Many years later Zahm would play an adversarial role in the story of the Wright brothers. He will be a paid witness for a competitor of the Wrights, Glenn Curtiss, and testify against the Wrights in a law suit.


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