U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission home page
Wilbur and Orville Wright: A Chronology

Year: 1904

January 5. Wrights issue statement to Associated Press, published January 6, to correct printed misinformation about December 17 flights.

January 14. Wrights write to Harry A. Toulmin, patent attorney in Springfield, Ill., to see Toulmin and places Wright patent case in his hands. Wilbur saw Toulmin again on February 4 to discuss foreign patent applications.

Chanute visits Wrights in Dayton to discuss rules for aeronautic competition scheduled for St. Louis World’s Fair.

February 4. Independent magazine publishes forged account of the Wright flight entitled “Experiments of a Flying Man,” using Wilbur Wright’s signature without authorization.

On February 5 Wrights sent letters to the Independent demanding apologies and corrections. Independent published retraction to February 24 issue.

February 17. Orville and Wilbur travel to St. Louis to inspect grounds over which World’s Fair aeronautic competition was to be held. 

The Wrights decided not to exhibit an airplane at the fair, and the proposed race was subsequently cancelled.

March 8 – 16. Wilbur again occupied with the United Brethren Publishing House case involving his father, and writes letters and travels to Huntington, Ind., in his behalf on March 15, returning to Dayton on March 16.

March 22. Wrights apply for French patent on their airplane.

March 24. Wrights apply for German patent on their airplane.

April – May. Wrights construct an entirely new, heavier and stronger machine at Huffman Prairie, eight miles out of Dayton, with which they made long flights later in the year. A new motor is installed which furnished 18 horsepower, as compared with 12 or 13 horsepower in the 1903 machine.

April 15. Wrights complete building of a wooden shed at Huffman Prairie to house their new, 1904 flying machine.

May 5. Wilbur writes Chanute that three-day trip to Huntington, Ind., in connection with Bishop Wright’s church problems, has delayed work o their flying machine.

May 23 and 25. Wrights attempt flights wit new machine at Huffman Prairie, but rain and insufficient wind prevent takeoff.

May 26. At Huffman Prairie, a large meadow of about 100 acres, Wrights try new machine for first time, Orville flying about 25 feet.

Between this date and December 9, when their last flight of the season was made, the Wrights made 105 starts, with total flying time of 49 minutes, enabling Wilbur and Orville to obtain practice in controlling and maneuvering a powered machine.

July 30. Modification of 1904 machine completed. The gas tank and radiator are moved rearward, and blade width of propellers is increased.

August 13. Wilbur flies 1,340 feet in 32 2/5 seconds, breaking previous distance record set at Kitty Hawk.

September 1. First basic Wright patent No. 342,188 published. The patent was applied for on March 22, 1904, and was granted July 1, 1904.

September 7. Wrights use a catapult launching device, sometimes called the starting derrick, for first time in launching machine.

September 15. Wilbur makes first turn in the air, a half circle.

September 20. Wilbur makes first complete circle in airplane, witnessed by Amos I. Root, editor and publisher of Gleanings in Bee Culture, who had driven nearly 200 miles from Medina, Ohio, to see the flights.

October 15. Chanute visits Wrights in Dayton and witnesses short flight by Orville. Machine damaged in landing.

October 24. Lt. Col. John E. Capper, British Army, visits Wright brothers in Dayton on behalf of British government, seeking proposal for sale of their airplane.

November 1. After starting down track, Orville wrenches shoulder in attempting to stop when stake holding restraining wire pulls loose.

November 9. Wilbur flies five minutes four seconds, distance 2 3/4 miles, making almost four circles of the field, the best and longest flight of the year.

November 16. Orville makes flights of 1/2, 1/3, and 1/8 miles and Wilbur a flight of two miles, making 2/14 turns of the field.

December 1. Orville makes flight of about 2 3/4 miles, almost four circles of the field.