Posted on 03 September 2020

In 1904, the Wright brothers began to refine their powered airplane, making test flights at Huffman Prairie near Dayton, Ohio.

In the bigger global picture, the first ice cream cones are sold at the St. Louis World's Fair; a judge in Newark, Rhode Island, pronounces the first jail sentence for speeding in an automobile. Work on the Panama Canal begins.

Wrights use a catapult launching device, sometimes called the starting derrick, for the first time in launching their flying machine. A falling weight and block-and-tackle system was used to power the catapult and accelerate the aircraft. With the addition of the catapult, they began to make longer flights at higher altitudes and crashed less often.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1904

If the Wright brothers flying machine was to be practical they had to be able to steer it in any direction, and by early fall of 1904 they were making circular flights. On September 15th Wilbur turned the machine a half-circle in the air for the first time.

Wilbur's logbook showing diagram and data for first circle flight on Sept. 20, 1904
SEPTEMBER 20, 1904

Wilbur makes the first complete circle in an airplane, witnessed by Amos I. Root, editor and publisher of Gleanings in Bee Culture. Mr. Root combined his curiosity about flying machines with his enthusiasm for another recent invention, the automobile, and drove his 1903 model Oldsmobile Runabout nearly 200 miles from Medina to the Wright hometown, Dayton, Ohio, hoping to learn more about the flying experiments. On September 20, 1904, he saw Wilbur fly the first complete circle in an airplane. He wrote an article about the achievement for his Gleanings periodical, but delayed publishing the story until the following January at the request of Wilbur and Orville. His report and follow-ups he wrote were the only published eyewitness accounts of successful flights by the Wright brothers at Huffman Prairie, a pasture outside Dayton where the brothers developed the first practical airplane. 

From Mr. Root’s writings:


“...these brothers have probably not even a faint glimpse of what their discovery is going to bring to the children of men. No one living can give a guess of what is coming along this line, much better than any one living could conjecture the final outcome of Columbus’ experiment…”

The first published account of a successful Wright brothers flight.

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