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See Inside May 2008

100 Years Ago in Scientific American: The Wright Brothers' First Flight

An article from the May 1908 issue of Scientific American


The Wright 30-horse-power aeroplane in flight above the North Carolina coast, in a  drawing prepared from descriptions by observers of the experiments. 

Upon the return of the newspaper correspondents and photographers from North Carolina, considerable more information was obtainable regarding the recent flights made by the Wright brothers in testing their aeroplane than has hitherto been available Unfortunately, not one of these men is a qualified technical observer, for which reason we are little better off for details than we were before. But their greatest value lies in dispelling all doubt as to the ability of the Wright machine to fly and to make good its designers' claims. All those who witnessed the flight agree that the performance of the machine was marvelous, and that the speed attained with the small motor of 30 horse-power was remarkable. As already noted in our last issue, the speed in question appears to have been from 45 to 48 miles an hour.

We hope that before the end of the year we shall be able to arrange a public contest near New York, in which all the prominent foreign and American aviators will compete, and endeavor to win for the first time the Scientific American trophy.

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