U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission home page
Wilbur and Orville Wright: A Chronology
1903 Kitty Hawk, N.C.
Wright 1902 Glider, Sept. 28-Nov. 12
Wright 1903 Marchine, Dec. 12-17

 

Following their gliding experiments of 1900, 1901, 1902, Wrights returned to Kitty Hawk for the fourth time, arriving September 25, to attempt to fly a larger and improved biplane, which they had designed and to which they added a small gasoline motor with two pusher type propellers. Airplane parts and engine arrived at Kitty Hawk October 8, were assembled and ready for testing November 5, and first trial occurred December 12.

Date FLIGHT PILOT TIME DISTANCE ALTITUDE REMARKS
Sep 28
 
 
 
 
 
Wrights made between 60 - 100 glides during the day, using the 1902 glider which had been left in the Wright camp when Wilbur and Orville departed in 1902. Approximately 12 to 15 glides exceeded 26 seconds. Average of all glides was more than 20 seconds.
 
1
WW
30-2/5 sec.
 
 
 
2
WW
26-2/5 sec.
52 sec.
 
Oct 3
 
 
 
 
 
About 30 or 40 glides made. Five or six glides ranged from 32 to 35 seconds. Performance of the glider was improved by changes made in the vertical rudder and the twisting of the wings.
 
1
WW
43 sec.
ca. 450 ft.
 
 
2
OW
34-1/2 sec.
ca. 450 ft
 
Oct 5
 
 
 
 
 
About a dozen glides were made from a steep incline. Glides ranged from 10 to 15 seconds each. Distance traveled was between 75 to 100 ft.
Oct 8
 
 
 
 
 
Few glides made.
Oct 10
 
 
 
 
 
Wilbur and Orville each made two glides. In Orville's last glide a strong gust of wind forced him rapidly up, and in coming down glider broke at one end and struck Wilbur on head.
Oct 19
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
OW
26-3/5 sec.
520 ft
 
Six or seven glides were made.
 
2
WW
21-3/5 sec.
558 ft
 
 
 
3
OW
21-3/5 sec.
603 ft
 
 
 
4
WW
20-2/5 sec.
491 ft
 
 
Oct 20
 
 
 
 
 
Wilbur and Orville each made a glide from Big Hill. Subsequently they made about 25 or 30 glides of about 9 seconds each from Small Hill.
 
1
OW
 
 
 
 
2
WW
 
 
 
Oct 21
 
 
 
 
 
Wrights made 15 to 20 glides. Five glides in morning averaged 400 feet. Later glides ran from 30 to 43 seconds, and the final 8 to 10 glides each increased in time and set new records. Many of the glides were made at heights from 40 to 60 feet, highest attained to date.
 
1
WW
43-3/5 sec.
 
 
 
2
OW
43-3/4 sec.
 
 
 
3
OW
45 sec.
 
 
 
4
WW
45-2/5 sec.
 
 
 
5
OW
49 sec.
 
 
 
6
WW
56 sec.
 
 
 
7
OW
56-3/5 sec.
 
 
 
8
OW
1 min. 1/2 sec.
 
 
 
9
WW
59 sec.
 
 
Oct 26
 
 
 
 
 
About 20 gliding attempts made. Former time record of 1 minute 1/2 second, made on October 21, was exceeded six times. Glides covered a distance of from 450 to 500 feet. Some glides reached an altitude of 60 feet. Gliding experiments, October 26-27, were witnessed by George A. Spratt, who had arrived at Kitty Hawk on October 23. He departed on November 6.
 
1
OW
1 min. 5-1/2 sec.
 
 
 
2
WW
1 min. 4-1/5 sec.
 
 
 
3
WW
1 min. 7-3/5 sec.
 
 
 
4
WW
1 min. 7-2/5 sec.
 
 
 
5
OW
1 min. 11-4/5 sec.
 
 
 
6
WW
1 min. 9-1/2 sec.
 
 
Oct 27
 
 
 
 
 
Several glides were made by Wilbur and Orville, primarily for purposes of taking pictures. Height of glides not over 20 to 25 feet.
Nov 7
 
 
 
 
 
Four or five glides were made. Further glides not attempted because of irregular speed and direction of wind. Octave Chanute, who had arrived at Kitty Hawk on November 6, witnessed glides on this day.
Nov 12
 
 
 
 
 
Glider used to test starting truck and rails for the new 1903 machine, starting successfully five times out of six. After four or five glides were made, machine was returned to camp because the dilapidated condition of the machine rendered it unsafe fro further experiments.
Dec 12
 
 
 
 
 
New Wright machine ready for trial, but there was insufficient wind. Machine was run along track, and in 40-ft. run last 15 feet covered in 1-1/2 sec.
Dec 14
 
WW
3-1/2 sec.
105 ft
ca. 15 ft
In first trial machine plunged to ground immediately after takeoff and was damaged in landing - one front skid, front rudder, and rudder frame broken, requiring two days' time for repairs. Five men (Robert Westcott, John T. Daniels, Thomas Beacham, W.S. Dough, and Benny O'Neal) from the Kill Devil Life Saving Station were present at the trial.
Dec 17
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
OW
ca. 12 sec.
120 ft.
ca. 8-10 ft
The four flights were witnessed by John T. Daniels, W. S. Dough, and A. D. Etheridge, from the Kill Devil Life Saving Station. W. C. Brinkley of Manteo, and Johnny Moore from Nags Head. In an article entitled "How We Made the First Flight" in Flying December 1913, Orville described this flight as "the first in the history of the world in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed forward without reduction of speed and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it started.
 
2
WW
ca. 12 sec.
ca. 175 ft.
 
 
 
3
OW
ca. 15 sec.
ca. 200 ft.
ca. 12-14 ft.
 
 
4
WW
59 sec.
852 ft.
 
Elevator damaged on landing. Shortly after, at camp, the machine was overturned by a gust of wind and wrecked, preventing further flights.