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In view of the fine performances of Wilbur Wright with his aeroplane in France, and also of the flights about to be made by Orville Wright near Washington, at Fort Meyer, we are glad to be able to present to our readers, in this issue, the first actual detail photographs of this world-renowned aeroplane which the Wright brothers have heretofore kept closely veiled from public view. These, photographs show that, as had been supposed from the descriptions of eye witnesses and also from the minute photographs taken at long range of the machine in flight at Kitty Hawk, their motor-driven aeroplane is of the greatest simplicity and is, in fact, merely their gliding machine with a, motor and propellers added. In the photographs which we reproduce the reader can see that the machine is fitted with a double-surface horizontal rudder mounted in front and having a small vertical rudder at its center point, while twin vertical rudders are used at the rear for side steering. The two propellers are located at the rear of the main planes, and are driven in opposite directions by chains from the motor located on the lower plane a short distance to one side of the center line of the machine. A vertical surface seen at the front end of the motor is the radiator, which consists of a number of small tubes closely assembled. The machine is carried on wood skids placed a short distance below the lower plane and which project forward and upward to form a support for the front horizontal rudder. Suitable stays extend downward from the front edge of the upper plane to these skids and also upward from the front edge of the lower plane to their vertical uprights. Practically all of these features could be made out in the small photographs taken at Kitty Hawk and published and de· scribed by us several months ago.
The main planes are 40 feet long by 6½, feet wide, and spaced 6 feet apart. Their supporting surface is 500 square feet. The horizontal rudder planes are 16 feet long by about 2½ feet wide, their total surface being 75 square feet. The weight of the aeroplane without operator or supplies is about 800 pounds. With two men and a supply of fuel and water, it weighs about 1,150 pounds, which, if the area of the horizontal rudder is added to that of the main planes, gives a loading of the surfaces of but 2 pounds per square foot. As some of the recent French monoplanes carry from 3 to 3½ pounds per square foot of supporting surface, it can be seen that the Wright machine is not heavily loaded, the consequence being that it can rise in the air and fly at a speed of 26 miles an hour, although it is capable of traveling at the rate of 40. The machine in use in France has but two control levers, while the new one to be flown here has three. Two of these, which control the warping of the planes and the vertical rudders, can be worked in unison, while the third operates the horizontal rudder. The 4-cylinder, vertical, water-cooled gasoline motor (which is the Wright brothers’ own design) is run at a constant speed of about 1,400 R.P.M. It drives the propellers in opposite directions at about 500 R.P.M. No carbureter is used, the gasoline being pumped into the cylinders above the inlet valves.
According to Mr. Orville Wright, the speed of the aeroplane is varied by manipulating the surfaces and not by varying the speed of the motor. The method of operating the motor without a carbureter by feeding gasoline direct to the cylinders is ‘that used by Farman with his 8 cylinder engine, and it is claimed that this method, although not economical of fuel, produces the best results when a motor is run at constant speed. The motor of the Wright aeroplane is placed in a fore·and-aft direction across the lower plane a short distance to one side of the center line, while the aviator and passenger sit beside the motor on the other side of this line and with their feet upon a cross brace below and in front of the plane. The frame and braces of the aeroplane are constructed of wood (spruce, ash, and pine), while unbleached muslin is used for the surfaces. No special pains have been taken to reduce the resistance of the various braces, with the exception Of the uprights connecting the main planes, which are oval. The planes are braced in all directions with piano wire. They are flexibly connected so that they can be warped slightly by cords passing through pulleys and connected to the levers.