The following account appeared in The Denver Republican, January 17, 1904. This same account appeared in the New York Herald, also on January 17th. Clippings of each were saved by the Wright Brothers, and are among the newspaper clippings in the Wright scrapbooks, a part of The Wright Brothers Collection held at the Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library. (I haven't researched which other newspapers may have carried this same story.) Portions of the account are fabricated from the author's imagination.
|The Denver Republican, January 17, 1904, The Machine That Flies, author's copy|
a. The rendering of the aeroplane shows one propeller at the rear, and one propeller under the craft. "What they have built is not an airship supported by a gas bag and driven by a motor, but a scientific adaptation of the principles in a soaring eagle's flight, only that two motor driven screw fans, one with a horizontal resistance and the other with a perpendicular resistance, make the machine's flight something surpassing that of a soaring bird, for the machine can navigate the air in any direction..." (In reality, both propellers were to the rear in pusher configuration).
b. "As the culmination of five years of careful study and experimenting Wilbur and Orville Wright, two young men of Dayton, O., have constructed a machine which on Dec. 17 last easily flew more than three miles in the face of a wind blowing 21 miles an hour." (In reality, four flights were made, 120', 195', 200', and 852'.)
c. "Orville, the younger, is nearly 30 and Wilbur is a few years older. Their total scientific training was got under Professor William Werthner in the old Central High School in Dayton...." (In reality, Wilbur had received his high school education in Richmond Indiana, though taking some courses at Central High. Orville was a student of Werthner's, but not to the extent that all his scientific training came from this source. The brothers independently researched all they could find on the subject.)
Scientific American reported the account of the first flight in their December 26, 1903 issue, with a number of errors. The aeroplane was not "started from the top of a 100-foot sand dune". It was not "pushed off" such that it "at first glided downward near the surface of the incline", and did not fly at the "height of about 60 feet, after which it was driven a distance of some three miles".
|Scientific American, December 26, 1903, author's copy|
The January 2, 1904 issue of Harper's Weekly repeated much of the same misinformation. "It was started from a platform on a high sand-hill, and ran down an incline.....it gradually rose until it got up to sixty feet....Their practical experiments began in 1900, and starting with the knowledge gained by Lilienthal, and getting some good ideas from Mr. Octave Chanute, of Chicago, they seem to have worked to excellent purpose.....equipped with a rudder in the centre, and carrying the navigator's car and a gasoline engine which drives two six-bladed propellers, one of which drives the car upward, the other forward."
|January 2, 1904 Harper's Weekly, Author's copy.|
The January 30, 1904 Harper's Weekly provided a more accurate account of the Wright's first flight, though they incorrectly identify the brothers as William and Orville Wright.
|January 30, 1904 Harper's Weekly, "The Problem of Flight", Author's copy.|
The February 4, 1904 issue of The Independent ran an article "The Experiments of a Flying Man" by Wilbur Wright. Except there was just one problem; Wilbur Wright didn't write the article.
|February 4, 1904 issue of The Independent, author's copy.|
|February 4, 1904 The Independent, false report "One of the propellers was set to revolve vertically and intended to give a forward motion, while the other underneath the machine and revolving horizontally, was to assist in sustaining it in the air."|
The February 25, 1904 issue of The Independent provided a response that in lieu of taking responsibility for the forged article, simply attempted to brush it off as some sort of misunderstanding.
|February 25, 1904 issue of The Independent response to Wilbur Wright's complaint.|
Wilbur Wright did not find this retraction satisfactory, and so the March 10th, 1904 issue of The Independent, the editors buried the following retraction deep within that issue in small type....
|March 10, 1904 issue of The Independent, author's copy. Wilbur has his say, "Your note is equivalent to an assertion that I furnished the matter for the article but objected only because my name was used...."|
The following article from the June 14, 1906 The Lewistown Gazette has the account correct concerning the Wright's flights in Dayton in 1904 and 1905, but repeats the depiction of the aeroplane with a horizontal propeller under the air-ship. This is somewhat understandable, as the design of the Wright Flyer was kept secret by Wilbur and Orville through this period, despite many witnesses of these flights at Simm's Station. The account is as provided by the Wrights to the Aero Club of America, and reported in the Aero Club March 12, 1906 bulletin.
|Lewistown Gazette, PA, June 14, 1906, author's copy.|
This rendering from The Globe, 1908, depicts Orville Wright and his brother Francis. And all this time I thought Wilbur Wright was involved somehow. Apparently Wilbur had a twin brother Francis who was the real mastermind behind the invention.
|The Globe, 1908, Orville Wright and brother Francis, author's copy|
The Daily News, New York, New York, December 17, 1933 issue with story "Thirty Years Ago", really blundered with the identification of this next photo.
|The Daily News NY,NY, December 17, 1933 blunder. This is not a photo of Orville Wright and a West Milton Ohio barber, Curran by name.|
This postcard from the 30's states "This plane built by Orville Wright, flew a distance of 852 feet at Kitty Hawk, N. J., Dec. 17, 1903, which was the first flight of man in an airplane."
|Seventh of a series of "Famous Events" issued by Kessler Distilling Company, N.Y. from the 1930's.|
|Dayton Wright Airplane Company booklet, author's copy. Dayton Wright Airplane Co established 1917, closed 1923.|
|Dayton Wright Airplane Company An-Achievement, Page 1|
|Dayton Wright Airplane Company An-Achievement, Page 2|
|Paul Zens and Wilbur Wright, September 16, 1908, Le Mans, France. Modern produced misidentified refrigerator magnet.|
|The Wrong Brothers. Again, wouldn't it make sense to have a picture of Orville and Wilbur Wright on a refrigerator magnet in lieu of Paul Zens and Wilbur Wright? It can be yours for just $3.99 and $2.80 shipping!|
Added 10/9/16- The Independent "The Experiments of a Flying Man"
Added 10/3/17- Harper's Weekly January 2, and 30, 1904 accounts.
Added 3/15/18- Kessler Distilling postcard showing Orville Wright and 1911 glider.
Added 4/13/18- Paul Zens impersonating Orville Wright.
Added 7/29/18- Second Paul Zens refrigerator magnet. What would Orville have thought of such careless errors?
Text revisions- 1/15/19
Added 5/4/19- Dayton Daily News "Thirty Years Ago" blunder.