The Wrights and their impossible 1904 flights
by Bogdan Lazar
(April 5, 2021)
The book is dedicated only to the 105 trials made by the Wright brothers with the second plane, known as Flyer II, they claimed they built in 1904 and flew many times during that year. Wilburís 1904-1905 Notebook E contains records about 92 starts, with the above mentioned machine, from flight no. 14 on August 2, 1904, to no. 105 on December 9th, but in some cases it is not evident from the text whether the aeroplane left the ground.
The purpose of this work is to demonstrate, based on primary sources, that no Wright powered apparatus flew in 1904 and the two brothers just dishonestly pretended, multiple times, they had flown a heavier-than-air machine. The evidence taken into account consists of:
- The Jan. 14 - Dec. 26, 1904, correspondence between Wilbur and Octave Chanute (an old civil engineer and businessman living in Chicago, who was a known personality of the time in the field of aeronautics) plus a few other letters exchanged by the two in 1905 and 1906.
- Wilburís and Orvilleís notebooks E and G, respectively, containing flight data.
- The 1904 entries, related to the aeronautical work of the two experimenters, in their fatherís diary.
- The 1904 newspaper articles that mention flights performed by the brothers in 1904 or offer information about their aeronautical activity.
- The letters exchanged by the Wrights and Georges Spratt, an aviation enthusiast, between Jan. 7, 1904, and Feb. 9, 1905.
- The Aug. 24, 1904 - Nov. 17, 1905, correspondence between the two inventors and Carl Dienstbach, the New York correspondent of the German journal ďIllustrierte AŽronautische MitteilungenĒ.
- The negotiations between the brothers and: (1) the US War Department (from Jan. 18 to Oct. 27, 1905); (2) the British War Office (from Sep. 16, 1904, to Feb. 8, 1906).
- Various other documents.
In order to avoid accusations that I base my conclusions on citations taken out of context, all letters and articles mentioned above plus other primary sources of interest had been converted by me in electronic format, directly from the scanned copies of the originals, and attached to the present work. Thus, the reader also has the opportunity to draw his own independent conclusions by examining, in chronological order: what the Wrights reported to Chanute, Spratt, Dienstbach, plus the US and British War departments, regarding their aeronautical activity; what feedback the brothers received; and how the newspapers and other publications treated the subject of the 1904 powered flights allegedly performed by the two inventors above a field near Dayton, in the proximity of a place known as Simms Station.
It is also worth mentioning that a May 1904 short note, printed in a few newspapers, reveals that a man from Kitty Hawk, NC, who had assisted the brothers in all their work there and had a general supervision of their property during their absence, declared that the two inventors had not completed their plane of the previous year. Therefore, the article throws serious doubts on the credibility of Wilbur and Orville concerning their December 17, 1903, four flights which evidently could not have been made using an unfinished aeroplane.
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