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Collection Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress

1901 to 1910

  • June 26, 1901

    Octave Chanute meets the Wrights for the first time in Dayton.

    O. Chanute. [between 1900 and 1910]. George Grantham Bain Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-106858
  • July 1901

    Wilbur's articles, "Angle of Incidence," published in Aeronautical Journal, and "Die Wagerechte Lage Wahrend des Gleitfluges," published in Ilustrierte Aeronautische Mitteilungen, are the brothers' first published aeronautical writings.

  • July 10, 1901

    Wrights arrive in Kitty Hawk and begin experiments with a larger glider. From fifty to one hundred flights are made in July and August, ranging in distance from twenty to almost four hundred feet.

  • August 4-11, 1901

    Chanute visits the Wrights at Kill Devil Hill and witnesses some of their glider experiments.

  • August 20, 1901

    Wrights leave Kitty Hawk.

  • September 18, 1901

    Wilbur addresses the Western Society of Engineers on the brothers' 1900-01 gliding experiments.

  • Oct-Dec 1901

    Wrights conduct tests on airfoils and build a wind tunnel.

    [Side view of Dan Tate, left, and Wilbur, right, flying the 1902 glider as a kite]. [1902 Sept. 19]. Glass negatives from the Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-W861-40
  • August 28, 1902

    Wilbur and Orville arrive at their Kitty Hawk camp.

  • September 8-19, 1902

    Wrights assemble their new glider.

  • Sept 19-Oct 24, 1902

    Wright brothers make between seven hundred and one thousand glides and increase their distance to 622 1/2 feet.

  • October 28, 1902

    Wrights leave Kitty Hawk.

  • December 1902

    Wrights conduct experiments with propellers and begin to build their 1903 four-cylinder engine.

    [1903 machine, front view], [1903]. Glass negatives from the Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-W861-24
  • March 23, 1903

    Wright brothers apply for a patent on their flying machine (patent issued May 22, 1906).

  • September 25, 1903

    Wilbur and Orville arrive at Kitty Hawk.

  • Sept 28-Nov 12, 1903

    Wrights experiment with 1902 glider.

  • Oct 9-Nov 4, 1903

    Brothers assemble the 1903 machine and install the engine.

  • Nov 5-Dec 9

    Propeller shafts break twice and brothers return to Dayton to repair them and obtain replacements.

  • December 14, 1903

    Wilbur makes the first, but unsuccessful, attempt to fly a powered machine from slope of Big Kill Devil Hill. Machine stalls after 31/2 seconds in the air and lands 105 feet below.

    [Letter, Wilbur Wright to Milton Wright, 14 December 1903]. Family Papers: Correspondence --Wright, Wilbur, 1903-1905. Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • December 17, 1903

    Wilbur and Orville make the first free, controlled, and sustained flights in a power-driven, heavier-than-air machine. Three men from the Kill Devil Life Saving Station and two from Nags Head witness the four trial flights. First trial is made by Orville at 10:35 A.M., stays twelve seconds in the air, and flies 120 feet. John T. Daniels photographs the first flight with Orville's camera. Wilbur makes the longest flight in the fourth trial, fifty-nine seconds in the air and 852 feet.

  • December 21, 1903

    Wrights leave Kitty Hawk.

  • January 22, 1904

    Wrights employ Harry A. Toulmin, a patent attorney, to work on their patent case.

    [Wilbur and Orville Wright with their second powered machine; Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio]. [1904 May]. Glass negatives from the Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-W861-30
  • March 1904

    Wrights apply for French and German patents on their airplane.

    "A Flying Machine Which has Sailed Against the Wind," The Graphic, 6 February 1904. Scrapbooks: January 1902-December 1908. The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress.
  • April-May 1904

    At Huffman Prairie, a large meadow near Dayton, Wilbur and Orville build a new heavier and stronger machine with a more powerful motor.

  • May-December 1904

    Wrights make practice flights with their new 1904 machine at Huffman Prairie–total flying time is forty-nine minutes. Wilbur makes the first turn in the air on September 15 and the first complete circle on September 20. Longest flight of the year is five minutes four seconds, 23/4 miles–almost four circles around the field.

    [Patent, 22 May 1906]. Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers. Subject File: Patents-- By Wright Brothers--USA-- filed 23 March 1903, patented 22 May 1906. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • January 1905

    U.S. Board of Ordnance and Fortification rejects the Wrights' offer of sale of their airplane.

  • June 1905

    Wright brothers finish work on a 1905 machine and begin making flights in it at Huffman Prairie.

  • October 5, 1905

    Wilbur makes the longest flight of the year: 24 1/5 miles in 39 minutes, 23 4/5 seconds, more than twenty-nine times around the field, at an average speed of thirty-eight miles per hour.

  • October 27, 1905

    U.S. Board of Ordnance and Fortification declines the Wrights' second offer of their airplane.

  • January 6, 1906

    Wrights join the Aero Club of America.

  • May 22, 1906

    U.S. Patent Office grants the Wrights patent, No. 821,393, for a flying machine.

  • 1907

    Brothers travel to Europe to negotiate for the sale of the Wright airplane abroad. Hart O. Berg and Flint & Company are their agents.

    "Fly Over St. Louis at 50 Miles an Hour," St. Louis Dispatch, 21 April 1907. Scrapbooks: January 1902-December 1908. Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • Nov-Dec 1907

    Wilbur meets with officials from U.S. Signal Corps and Board of Ordnance to discuss their airplane's capabilities.

  • December 23, 1907

    U.S. Signal Corps advertises for bids for a military heavier-than-air flying machine to be submitted by February 1.

  • January 27, 1908

    Wrights submit their bid to U.S. Signal Corps to supply a heavier-than-air flying machine, weighing between 1,100 and 1,250 pounds, carrying two passengers, and flying at a speed of forty miles per hour.

    Orville Wright and Lieutenant Lahm... George Grantham Bain Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Created by Harris and Ewing. LC-USZ62-89971.
  • February 8, 1908

    Wrights' bid to furnish a flying machine to U.S. War Department for $25,000 is accepted.

    [Telegram, Office of the Chief Signal Officer, War Department, to Wilbur and Orville Wright, 8 February 1908]. Subject File: United States-- War Department--Army Signal Corps --Correspondence, 1908. Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • April 9, 1908

    Wilbur and Orville arrive in Kitty Hawk to brush up on their flying skills.

  • May 14, 1908

    Wrights carry a passenger on a flight for the first time: Charles W. Furnas flies with Wilbur.

  • May 29, 1908

    Wilbur arrives in Paris to demonstrate the capabilities of the Wright airplane in Europe.

  • August 8, 1908

    Wilbur makes his first flight at Le Mans, France–the Wrights' first flight in Europe.

  • August 27, 1908

    Wright 1908 airplane is assembled and ready for testing at Fort Meyer, Virginia.

  • September 1908

    Orville makes U.S. Army test flights at Fort Meyer and establishes records with and without passengers.

  • September 17, 1908

    Orville is seriously injured and his passenger, Lt. Thomas Selfridge, is killed in an airplane crash at Fort Meyer. Airplane crashes to the ground from a height of about seventy-five feet after a propeller blade breaks and the machine goes out of control. Selfridge is the first airplane fatality.

    "Airship Falls; Liet. Selfridge Killed, Wright Hurt," The Washington Post, 18 September 1908. Scrapbooks: January 1902-December 1908. The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress.
  • November 1, 1908

    Orville and sister Katharine arrive in Dayton after his discharge from the hospital in Fort Meyer.

  • November 30, 1908

    La Compagnie Générale de Navigation Aérienne, the French Wright company, organized.

    [Map of Pau, France, 20 November 1908]. Subject File: Pau, France, 1908. Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
  • December 31, 1908

    Wilbur wins 1908 Michelin Cup and a prize of twenty thousand francs with his flight of 123 kilometers, two hundred meters in two hours, 18 minutes, 33 3/5 seconds. He extends this same flight to break a new world record in a time of two hours, 20 minutes, 23 1/5 seconds over 124 kilometers, 700 meters.

  • January 12, 1909

    Orville and Katharine join Wilbur in Paris.

  • January 14, 1909

    Wilbur arrives at Pau, France. Orville and Katharine join him a few days later.

  • February-March 1909

    Wilbur makes a series of training flights with three French student pilots at Pau.

  • March 4, 1909

    Congressional Medal is awarded to the Wrights by resolution of Congress (H.J. Resolution 246), "in recognition of the great service of Orville and Wilbur Wright, of Ohio, rendered the science of aerial navigation in the invention of the Wright aeroplane, and for their ability, courage, and success in navigating the air." Medal is presented to the brothers on June 18.

    "Wrights Arrange for Flights in Rome," New York Herald, 10 March 1909. Scrapbooks: January-December 1909. The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Library of Congress.
  • April 1, 1909

    Wilbur arrives in Rome to make demonstration flights and train two Italian pilots. Orville and Katharine arrive April 9.

    "The American Girl Whom All Europe is Watching," The World Magazine, 11 April 1909. Scrapbooks: January-December 1909. The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Library of Congress.
  • May 11, 1909

    Wrights arrive in New York.

  • May 13, 1909

    Flugmaschine Wright Gesellschaft, the German Wright company in Berlin, is formed.

  • June 1909

    Wrights perform propeller tests in Dayton to determine cause of the Fort Meyer accident in order to prevent similar future accidents.

    "Wrights, 'Kings of the Air," Receive a Royal Welcome Home," New York American, 12 May 1909. Scrapbooks: January-December 1909. The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Library of Congress.
  • June 17-18, 1909

    Two-day celebration thrown by the city of Dayton to honor the Wright brothers.

  • June 20, 1909

    Wilbur and Orville arrive in Washington, D.C. to resume trial flights at Fort Meyer for U.S. government.

  • June 26, 1909

    Glenn H. Curtiss sells his Curtiss airplane, the first commercial sale of an airplane in the United States, to Aeronautic Society of New York for $7,500. Sale sets in motion the beginning of the Wrights' patent suit against Curtiss.

  • July 27, 1909

    With Lt. Frank P. Lahm as his passenger, Orville flies for one hour, 12 minutes, 37 4/5 seconds. Flight fulfills the Army's requirements and is witnessed by President Taft, his cabinet, and other public officials as well as an estimated crowd of ten thousand spectators at Fort Meyer.

  • August 8, 1909

    Orville and Katharine leave for Europe for demonstration flights and sales negotiations in Germany.

  • August 18, 1909

    Wrights begin a patent suit against Herring-Curtiss Company and Glenn H. Curtiss by filing a bill of complaint to prevent them from manufacturing, selling, or using in exhibition the Curtiss airplane.

  • August 19, 1909

    Wrights file suit against Aeronautic Society of New York to prevent further exhibition and use of the Curtiss airplane owned by the society because it infringes on Wright patents.

  • October 4, 1909

    As part of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration, Wilbur flies round-trip demonstration flights from Governors Island, New York, to the Statue of Liberty and Grant's Tomb, New York City. More than one million spectators present.

    Wright in Daring Flights Rounds Liberty Statue; Curtiss Also Out; Dirigibles off for Albany," The Globe, 29 September 1909. Scrapbooks; January-December 1909. The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress.
  • Oct 8-Nov 2, 1909

    At College Park, Maryland, Wilbur trains first U.S. Army fliers.

  • November 22, 1909

    Wright Company, formed to manufacture their airplanes, is incorporated; Wilbur serves as president and Orville as vice president. A few days later, Wrights sell their American patent rights to the company for $100,000, 40 percent of the company stock and a 10 percent royalty for every airplane built.

    [Affidavit of Wilbur Wright, 11 December 1909]. Subject File: Legal Cases--Wright Co. v. Herring-Curtiss Co.--Affidavits: Wright, Wilbur, 1909-1910. The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Library of Congress.
  • Nov-Dec 1909

    Wright Company moves forward on patent lawsuits. Wilbur and Orville give affidavits and attend trial for The Wright Company v. Herring-Curtiss Company and Glenn H. Curtiss patent suit.

  • January 1910

    Wright Company and Wright brothers continue their involvement in patent suits.

  • March 1910

    Wright Exhibition Company formed, with Roy Knabenshue as manager.

  • March 26-May 5, 1910

    Orville conducts flight training school in Montgomery, Alabama, for pilots who will fly for Wright Exhibition Company.

  • June 13-18, 1910

    Wright Exhibition Company team flies in its first show in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • November 1910

    Orville travels to Europe to find both the German and French Wright companies struggling financially.

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