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1906-01-13, “The Wright Aeroplane and Its Fabled Performances”, Scientific American, New York, Munn & Co., January 13, 1906, Vol. XCIV, No. 2, p. 40.


The Wright Aeroplane and Its Fabled Performances.

A Parisian automobile paper recently published a letter from the Wright brothers to Capt. Ferber of the French army, in which statements are made that certainly need some public substantiation from the Wright brothers. In the letter in question it is alleged that on September 26 the Wright motor-driven aeroplane covered a distance of 17.961 kilometers in 18 minutes and 9 seconds, and that its further progress was stopped by lack of gasoline. On September 29 a distance of 19.57 kilometers was covered in 19 minutes and 55 seconds, the gasoline supply again having been exhausted. On September 30 the machine traveled 16 kilometers in 17 minutes and 15 seconds; this time a hot bearing prevented further remarkable progress. Then came some eye-opening records. Here they are:

October 3: 24.535 kilometers in 25 minutes and 5 seconds. (Cause of stoppage hot bearing.)

October 4: 33.456 kilometers in 33 minutes and 17 seconds. (Cause of stoppage, hot bearing.)

October 5: 38.956 kilometers in 33 minutes and 3 seconds. (Cause of stoppage, exhaustion of gasoline supply.)

It seems that these alleged experiments were made at Dayton, Ohio, a fairly large town, and that the newspapers of the United States, alert as they are, allowed these sensational performances to escape their notice. When it is considered that Langley never even successfully launched his man-carrying machine, that Langley’s experimental model never flew more than a mile, and that Wright’s mysterious aeroplane covered a reputed distance of 38 kilometers at the rate of one kilometer a minute, we have the right to exact further information before we place reliance on these French reports. Unfortunately, the Wright brothers are hardly disposed to publish any substantiation or to make public experiments, for reasons best known to themselves. If such sensational and tremendously important experiments are being conducted in a not very remote part of the country, on a subject in which almost everybody feels the most profound interest, is it possible to believe that the enterprising American reporter, who, it is well known, comes down the chimney when the door is locked in his face — even if he has to scale a fifteen-story sky-scraper to do so — would not have ascertained all about them and published them broadcast long ago? Why particularly, as is further alleged, should the Wrights desire to sell their invention to the French government for a “million” francs? Surely their own is the first to which they would be likely to apply.

We certainly want more light on the Subject.




This is one of the most important articles regarding the powered flights of the Wright brothers, which appeared in the Scientific American, because it shows that, as late as January 1906, the claims, of the two inventors from Dayton, were highly doubted by this well known journal dedicated to science and technology.


Comments by Bogdan Lazar.

Last update: 2016-04-27