In November of 1905, The Aero Club of America requested documentation of eyewitness accounts to the Wright flights of 1905 at Huffman Prairie. Some are offered as follows from "Navigating the Air", Aero Club of America, 1907-
"Dear Sir: The brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright, have lived from childhood within a few squares of my home and have always had the fullest confidence of all their neighbors and acquaintance; but I must confess that when I read that they had solved the problem of human flight down on the coast of North Carolina I did not believe it. I thought that what they had accomplished was not real flight at all, but due to some peculiar condition of the atmosphere in that locality. I believed mechanical flight was impossible as perpetual motion. It was not until I saw one of their flights, near Dayton, with my own eyes that every doubt was removed....I simply cannot describe my feelings during the first few minutes. When it was well above the tree-tops it continued on a level course in easy circles about the field, for more than half an hour, as timed by several spectators present. The operator brought it to the ground, without any damage whatever, directly in front of the building in which it was housed. I had seen the eighth wonder of the world!
Respectfully yours, Henry Webbert, Dayton, Ohio November 24, 1906
"Dear sir: I take great pleasure in answering your letter of November 21, 1906. Along with some friends, I had the privilege of witnessing a flight of the Wright Brothers, in the autumn of 1905, a few miles east of Dayton. The machine started from a short track lying on the ground, and rose into the air on an inclined path till it was well above the height of the tallest trees. It then kept on a horizontal path flying round and round the meadow in circles about a quarter of a mile in diameter. The flight lasted more than a half hour. At last Mr. Orville Wright shut of the power and landed as gracefully as a bird just in front of the building in which the machine was kept. I can only say that it was the most wonderful sight of my life....
Yours respectively, Chas. Webbert
Additional eye witness accounts to the 1905 flights were documented in American Magazine of Aeronautics, Jan 1908, The Wright Brothers Flying Machine, by Captain Hildebrandt-
"...I went to Dayton, and here visited the father of the brothers, the old American Bishop, Milton Wright. The old man of about seventy years of age verified in simple language that he had witnessed the longest flight. He happened there by chance. Troubled constantly in regard to the fate of his sons who had subjected themselves to such daring flight experiments, he had frequently gone to the trial grounds and thus had been witness of numerous ascensions. He would not go into full particulars in the matter. If I had any doubts whatever after my conversation with the two competitors of the Wrights, they would have been dispelled after my visit with the Father. I believe that there can be few suspicious people who would doubt the words of this old, honorable priest...."
|Portion of letter written by Milton Wright, father of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Letter is dated June 22, 1909.|
"We interviewed Mr. C.S. Billman thereafter, secretary of a bank. He exclaimed excitedly: Well, she flies! Then he pictured how imposing it looked when the flying machine rose from the ground and flew over the fields about the height of a tree in a slightly undulated manner; how readily she answered her rudder and returned to earth...."
"....a young druggist, Reuben Schindler, who had witnessed the long flight without being invited. On one day when he had expected a flight would be made, he had followed the father Wright at a distance and had thus witnessed an excellent flight. A laborer happened to come into the drug store, who had also been an uninvited onlooker to a flight, who confirmed in an exhaustive manner the statements made by Mr. Schindler."
"A good many details on the construction of the flyer were given to us by a German hardware dealer, Frank Hamburger, who had been a keen observer and endeavored to make his statements more clear to us by aid of some sketches. The druggist William Foots (Fouts), also showed a good understanding for the technical matters and gave us a few valuable points...
e. "Finally, we succeeded in talking with two more very important people, C.V. Ellis, officer of the law, and Torence Hoffman (Torrence Huffman), president of the largest bank in the city."
In "To Conquer the Air", James Tobin, 2003, provides additional names of eye witnesses to the 1905 flights, pg 235, "With the first hint of autumn in the air, the brothers began to invite guests to Huffman Prairie. Lorin and his wife, Netta, had seen a flight or two. Now they came back with their children. Kate came on October 4, though it was a school day, and saw Orville fly more than twenty miles. Torrence Huffman came again, as did a number of friends and neighbors. Among them were the brother's landlord on West Third, Charles Webbert, and his brother Henry, who was Charles Taylor's father-in-law. Bill Weber, a plumber, came; and Ed Ellis, an old friend from the Ten Dayton Boys club who was now assistant auditor of the city of Dayton; Bill Fouts, a druggest and friend of Orville's, and Fout's friend Theodore Waddell, an employee of the U.S. Census Bureau"...pg 237, "Waddell was especially struck by the extraordinary means of moving the flyer around on the ground....He asked one of the brothers if he could give a hand in hauling the machine back to the shed. He could if he wanted, he was told, but he didn't need to help. As Waddel watched, "They.....starting the engine at slow speed, let the machine lift itself clear of the ground and walked it back to the (shed). It was about the most uncanny sensation I ever experienced...
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