The Wright Brothers

A friendship developed in which Chanute was a true mentor. The Wright's documented, described and explained each step of their progress, always asking for Chanute's comments. In 1901, the Wright brothers invited Chanute to come and join them at Kitty Hawk. Chanute arrived, and even though he was impressed with their accomplishments, the Wrights themselves were very disappointed with the results. "Not within a thousand years would man ever fly!"

Chanute then suggested that Wilbur and Orville come to Chicago and speak to a Special Meeting (or "Ladies Night") of the Western Society of Engineers on 18 September 1901.

It is generally believed that in preparing for this meeting, the two brothers carefully reexamined each aspect of their experiments to that point. They decided to continue their work on flying machines, and eventually gained a place in aviation history.

A few men sit inside a wooden shed.
Photo taken in front of the Wrights' work shed at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, August 1901

Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University. Repository number: 15-5-21; N494.

Left to right: Edward C. Huffaker and Octave Chanute seated, Wilbur Wright standing, and George Spratt sitting on ground.

One man stands on the ground as another takes off in a wood-and-canvas flyer.
First powered flight, December 17, 1903

Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University. Repository number: 16-2-6; N203.

Orville Wright, pilot; Wilbur Wright is running and watching the Wright 1903 flyer taking off. The Wrights estimated the duration of the flight at 12 seconds." Wright State University.