Tag Archives: Wright Model A

31 December 1908

Wilbur Wright at Camp d'Avours, 1 January 1909. (Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University Libraries)
Wilbur Wright at Camp d’Avours, 1 January 1909. (Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University Libraries)

31 December 1908: At Camp d’Auvours, 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) east of Le Mans, France, Wilbur Wright flew a 1907 Wright Flyer a distance of 124.7 kilometers (77.48 miles) over a triangular course in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 23 seconds, setting a record for duration and distance. He won the first Michelin Trophy and a 20,000 prize.

1908 Michelin Trophy. (Le Mans-Sarthe Wright, 1906–2008)
1908 Michelin Trophy. (Le Mans-Sarthe Wright, 1906–2008)

The International Michelin Trophy was a prize given over eight years by Michelin et Cie, the French  tire company, to the Aéro-Club de France, to award on behalf of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. The winner would be the pilot who by sunset, 31 December of each year, held the record which had been established by the Aéro-Club. The actual trophy would be given the aeronautical club whose members had won the most times during the eight year period. 160,000 was to be divided and presented to each winning pilot.

The Wright Model A, produced from 1907 to 1909, was the world’s first series production airplane. It was slightly larger and heavier than the Wright Flyer III which had preceded it. It was a two-place, single-engine canard biplane built of a wooden framework braced with wires and covered with muslin fabric. A new system of flight controls allowed the pilot to sit upright rather than lying prone on the lower wing.

The dual horizontal elevators were placed forward and the dual vertical rudders aft. The biplane was 31 feet (9.449 meters) long with a wingspan of 41 feet (12.497 meters). The wings had a chord of 6.6 feet, and vertical separation of 6 feet. The airplane had an empty weight of approximately 800 pounds (363 kilograms).

The Model A was powered by a single water-cooled, fuel-injected, 240.528 cubic-inch-displacement (3.942 liter) Wright vertical overhead-valve inline four-cylinder gasoline engine with 2 valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 4.165:1. It produced 32 horsepower at 1,310 r.p.m. During three years of production (1908–1911) Wright “4-40” engines were built that operated from 1,325 to 1,500 r.p.m. Power output ranged from 28 to 40 horsepower. These engines weighed from 160 to 180 pounds (72.6–81.6 kilograms).

Two 8½ foot (2.591 meters) diameter, two-bladed, counter-rotating propellers, driven by a chain drive, are mounted behind the wings in pusher configuration. They turned 445 r.p.m.

The Wright Model A could fly 37 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour).

Wilber Wright's Model A Flyer in France, 1909. The derrick supporst a weight, which, when dropped, pulls the airplane across the ground until it reaches flying speed. (Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company)
Wilber Wright’s Model A Flyer in France, 1909. The derrick supports a weight, which, when dropped, pulls the airplane across the ground with a cable and puller arrangement until it reaches flying speed. (Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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18 October 1909

Charles, Comte de Lambert (1865–1944)

18 October 1909: Charles Alexandre Maurice Joseph Marie Jules Stanislas Jacques Count de Lambert, the first student to successfully complete Wilbur Wright’s aviation school at Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, flew his Wright Model A Flyer from Port Aviation (Juvisy-sur-Orge), Viry-Châtillon (in the outskirts of Paris), the World’s first airport, to the Eiffel Tower.

The Comte de Lambert departed Port Aviation at 4:36 p.m. He circled the Tower at an altitude of 400 meters (about 1,300 feet) and then returned to Pau, located on the northern edge of the Pyrenees.

The Comte Charles de Lambert flies around the Eiffel Tower in Paris in his Wright aeroplane during his circular tour from Juvisy - Paris - Juvisy. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
“The Comte Charles de Lambert flies around the Eiffel Tower in Paris in his Wright aeroplane during his circular tour from Juvisy – Paris – Juvisy.” (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

The flight covered approximately 48 kilometers (30 miles) with an elapsed time of 49 minutes, 39 seconds.

Comte de Lambert’s flight coincided with an evening banquet celebrating a two-week “Grande Quinzaine de l’Aviation de Paris“. L’Aéroclub de France awarded him a Gold Medal for his achievement, and France appointed him Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

de Lambert, immediately after landing at Pau, 18 October 1909.
de Lambert, immediately after landing at Pau, 18 October 1909. (Collection of Gerard J. van Heusden)

The Wright Model A, produced from 1907 to 1909, was the world’s first series production airplane. It was slightly larger and heavier than the Wright Flyer III which had preceded it. It was a two-place, single-engine canard biplane built of a wooden framework braced with wires and covered with muslin fabric. A new system of flight controls allowed the pilot to sit upright rather than lying prone on the lower wing.

The dual horizontal elevators were placed forward and the dual vertical rudders aft. The biplane was 31 feet (9.449 meters) long with a wingspan of 41 feet (12.497 meters). The wings had a chord of 6.6 feet, and vertical separation of 6 feet. The airplane had an empty weight of approximately 800 pounds (363 kilograms).

A water-cooled 240.5 cubic-inch-displacement (3.940 liter) Wright inline four-cylinder gasoline engine produced 32 horsepower at 1,310 r.p.m. Two 8½ foot (2.591 meters) diameter, two-bladed, counter-rotating propellers, driven by a chain drive, are mounted behind the wings in pusher configuration. They turned 445 r.p.m.

The Wright Model A  could fly 37 miles per hour (kilometers per hour).

Charles Comte de Lambert at the controls of a Wright Flyer at l’Ecole d’Aviation, Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques,1908.
Charles Comte de Lambert at the controls of a Wright Flyer at l’Ecole d’Aviation, Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques,1908. (Calizo Photography)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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2 August 1909

 

The Wright 1909 Military Flyer being fueled at Fort Myer, Virginia, 27 July 1909. Orville Wright is to the right of center in this photograph. The military officer is 1st Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm, Signal Corps, United States Army. Behind the airplane is 1st Lieutenant Benjamin D. Fuolois and Wilbur Wright. (NASM)

2 August 1909: The United States Army Signal Corps purchased a Wright Flyer for $30,000. It became the first aircraft in the United States’ military inventory and was designated Signal Corps Airplane No. 1. The airplane was used to train Signal Corps pilots at Fort San Antonio, Texas. It was crashed and rebuilt several times. After just two years’ service, the airplane was retired. The Army donated Airplane No. 1 to the Smithsonian Institution.

During test flights that were conducted prior to acceptance by the Army, Orville Wright with Lieutenant Benjamin D. Fulois as a passenger (he was chosen because of his size and his ability to read maps) the Flyer achieved a two-way average 42.583 miles per hour (68.531 kilometers per hour), over a 5 mile (8.05 kilometers) course. The Signal Corps specification allowed a bonus of $2,500 per full mile per hour above 40 miles per hour. This increased the purchase price of the airplane from $25,000 to $30,000. The Army also required the airplane to be able to remain airborne for a minimum of one hour. Wright demonstrated its endurance at 1 hour, 12 minutes, 40 seconds.

1st Lieutenant Benjamin D. Fulois, Signal Corps, United States Army, and Orville Wright, at Fort Myer, Virginia, 1909. (U.S. Air Force)
1st Lieutenant Benjamin Delahauf Fulois, Signal Corps, United States Army, and Orville Wright, at Fort Myer, Virginia, 1909. By November 1917, Brigadier General Fulois was Chief of Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces. (U.S. Air Force)

The 1909 Military Flyer is a one-of-a-kind variant of the Wright Brothers’ Model A which was produced from 1907 to 1909. The airplane has shorter wings than the standard Model A, and slightly longer propeller blades which are turned at a different r.p.m. These changes were made to increase the Flyer’s speed through the air. The engine had been salvaged from the 1908 Model A which crashed at Fort Myer in 1908, severely injuring Orville Wright and killing Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge.

The Military Flyer is a two-place, single-engine biplane built of a wooden framework braced with wires. The wings, rudders and elevators are covered with muslin. The elevators are placed forward in canard configuration with rudders aft. Roll control was by the Wright Brothers’ patented wing-warping system.

Signal Corps Airplane no. 1, the Wright 1909 Military Flyer, at Fort Myer, Virginia, 1910. (U.S. Air Force)
Signal Corps Airplane No. 1, the Wright 1909 Military Flyer, at Fort Myer, Virginia, 1910. (U.S. Air Force)

As originally built (it was repaired and slightly modified during its two years in service) the airplane was 28 feet, 11 inches (8.814 meters) long with a wingspan of 36 feet, 6 inches (11.125 meters) and height of 8 feet, 1 inch (2.464 meters). The wings have a chord of 5 feet, 10 inches (1.778 meters) and vertical separation of 5 feet (1.524 meters). The lower wing has 2 feet, 3 inches (0.686 meter) of ground clearance. The elevators have a span of 15 feet, 5 inches (4.699 meters), a chord of 3 feet (0.914 meter) and vertical spacing of 3 feet (0.914 meter). The parallel rudders are 4 feet, 8½ inches (1.435 meters) tall with a chord of 1 foot, 8 inches (0.508 meter). Their lateral separation is also 1 foot, 8 inches (0.508 meter). The rudder pivot point is 15 feet, 11 inches (4.851 meters) aft of the wings’ leading edge. The airplane had an empty weight of 740 pounds (335.7 kilograms).

Wright Military Flyer. Three-view drawing with dimensions. (Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company)

The Military Flyer was powered by a single water-cooled, fuel-injected, 240.528 cubic-inch-displacement (3.942 liter) Wright vertical overhead-valve inline four-cylinder gasoline engine with 2 valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 4.165:1. It produced 32 horsepower at 1,310 r.p.m. During three years of production (1908–1911) Wright “4-40” engines were built that operated from 1,325 to 1,500 r.p.m. Power output ranged from 28 to 40 horsepower. These engines weighed from 160 to 180 pounds (72.6–81.6 kilograms).

Two 8 foot, 6 inch (2.591 meter) diameter two-bladed counter-rotating propellers,are mounted behind the wings in pusher configuration. Driven by a chain drive, they turned 425 r.p.m.

The Military Flyer could fly 42 miles per hour (67.6 kilometers per hour) and had endurance of one hour.

Early army officers who trained with Signal Corps Airplane No. 1 included Lieutenants Benjamin D. Fulois, Frank P. Lahm and Frederic E. Humphreys.

The unrestored Wright 1909 Military Flyer is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, displayed at the National Mall. A reproduction of the airplane is at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Signal Corps Airplane No. 1, the Wright 1909 Military Flyer, on display at the Early Flight gallery of the Smithsonian Institution National Mall building. (Photo by Eric Long, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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9 July 1910

Walter Richard Brookins. (Empire State Aerosciences Museum)
Brookins’ Wright Flyer over the Atlantic City pier, 9 July 1910.

9 July 1910: Walter Richard Brookins flew his Wright Flyer to an altitude of 6,175 feet (1,882 meters) at the Atlantic City Aero Meet at Atlantic City, New Jersey, becoming the first pilot to fly higher than one mile. He broke his own altitude record of 4,380 feet (1,335 meters) set at Indianapolis, Indiana, less than a month earlier.

Brookins took off in a Wright Model A at 6:07:30 p.m. The ascent took just over 56 minutes as he made a gradual climb in 2-mile circles. The altitude was recorded by a Richard Frères recording aneroid barometer (or barograph), serial number 48188, which had a measurement range of 0–5,000 meters (0–16,404 feet). The descent from the record altitude took approximately seven minutes, as Brookins circled in a steeply-banked spiral and landed at 7:11 p.m.

In addition to the barograph carried aboard the Wright Flyer, a team of engineers and surveyors from the civil engineering firm of Ashmead & Hackney of Atlantic City measured the height of Brookins’ airplane bt rriabulation, using transits set up approximately 2½ ¹ miles (4 kilometers) apart. At 7:03:55 p.m., Brookins’ crossed the surveyors’ base line.

Civil engineers’ trianglulation measurements. Altitude: 6,175.48 feet (1,882.29 meters).  (American Engineer)

The engineering team reported:

“Gentlemen, —We beg leave to report that we have determined the height of the undersides of the runners of the Wright biplane occupied by Mr. Walter R. Brookins at the time of crossing the established base line between the two instrument stations (7h. 03m. 55s. p.m., July 9th, 1910) to have been 6,175 ft. (nearest even ft.) above sea-level.”

Flight, No. 86 (Vol. II, No. 34.), 20 August 1910, at Page 677, Column 2

Brookins was awarded a prize of $5,000.00 offered by the Atlantic City Aero Club.

Walter Richard Brookins (Library of Congress)

A contemporary newspaper reported the event:

BROOKINS BREAKS ALTITUDE RECORD

     Atlantic City, July 9.—Walter Brookins, in a Wright biplane, broke the world’s altitude record here this evening, when he attained a height of 6,175 feet. He used his last drop of gasoline at his highest altitude and was still climbing when his engine missed explosions. The daring aviator brought his machine back to level to get the last drop of fuel out of the storage tank to reach the line of vision of engineers on the beach. Reaching the imaginary line, Brookins started to glide to earth and his engine stopped entirely when he was at 5,600 feet and still over the ocean. His circling glide to the beach which the crown believed to be a bit of fancy flying was done to save himself from diving into the sea.

     Brookins was ready to collapse when he reached the ground and did not tell of his plight in the air until midnight, after he had partly recovered.

     Officials at midnight gave 6,175 feet as the exact height of the flight from calculations of engineering experts. The barograph record is 6,200 feet, leaving but 25 feet difference. It is expected that the record will stand without protest.

Wins $5,000 Prize.

     By his feat today Brookins wins the $5,000 prize offered by the Atlantic City Aero Club for breaking the world’s record, unless a higher altitude is reached here before the end of the present meet.

     Brookins spent one hour, two minutes, 35 15-100 seconds in the air, according to the official timing of Chairman Henry M. Neely and Recorder Augustus Post, of the Contest Committee of the National Council of the Aero Club of America. About 57 minutes of this time was made in a circling ascent, the rush of over a mile to the ground consuming less than seven minutes.

     Fear that Brookins at his highest point had not crossed the line of vision of the expert engineers in charge of securing his height by triangulation startled officials and spectators until it was discovered that the failure to secure a record of his crossing the imaginary line on which his record will be based was on two swings at a much lower altitude than at the final highest point.

Makes Final Start at 6.08 P. M.

     Brookins, after waiting all day for the brisk southerly wind to die out, made a practice spin of a little over 15 minutes, reaching an altitude of 1,900 feet. His final start was made at 6.08 o’clock p. m., with the weather absolutely clear and much of the force of the wind gone in the lower altitudes.

     His rise was made from alongside one of the ocean piers, He pointed his machine to the west and then swung out over the ocean, where he started his spiral flight over the ocean and city.

     News that Brookins was really attempting to break the altitude record reached hotels and city people, and when he reached a height of 1,520 feet the greater part of the city was on the beach. It is calculated that nearly 100,000 people watched the flight and cheered Brookins when he descended at 7.11 p. m.

     Men and women in the great throng threw up hats and handkerchiefs and the police had trouble keeping back the crown until Brookins made a run from his machine to his dressing room on the pier.

Waves Roses to Cheering Crowd.

Miss Eva Goffyn, sister of Frank Goffyn, Brookins’ fellow aviator, pushed a bunch of roses into his hands which he waved to the cheering crowd as he mounted to the deck of the pier.

     Brookins declined to receive callers and rested for 10 minutes before he left for his hotel in an automobile. He again went into seclusion, after stating that he found the air currents steady at his highest altitude and that he turned toward the earth when his aneroid barometers showed an altitude of over 6,000 feet.

     Glenn Curtiss made several short flights while Brookins was preparing to ascend for his final trial, but descended without attempting any altitude flight over the 50-mile course which he expects to cover tomorrow.

THE READING EAGLE, Vol. 43, No. 164 Sunday 10 July, Page 1 at Column 3

Recording baraograph chart of Brookins’ altitude record indicates 6,200 feet (1,890 meters). (American Machinist)

The Wright Model A, produced from 1907 to 1909, was the world’s first series production airplane. It was slightly larger and heavier than the Wright Flyer III which had preceded it. It was a two-place, single-engine canard biplane built of a wooden framework braced with wires and covered with muslin fabric. A new system of flight controls allowed the pilot to sit upright rather than lying prone on the lower wing.

The dual horizontal elevators were placed forward and the dual vertical rudders aft. The biplane was 31 feet (9.449 meters) long with a wingspan of 41 feet (12.497 meters). The wings had a chord of 6.6 feet, and vertical separation of 6 feet. The airplane had an empty weight of approximately 800 pounds (363 kilograms).

A Wright vertical four-cylinder engine at teh Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (Sanjay Acharya/Wikipedia)
A Wright vertical inline four-cylinder engine at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (Sanjay Acharya/Wikipedia)

The Model A was powered by a single water-cooled, fuel-injected, 240.528 cubic-inch-displacement (3.942 liter) Wright vertical overhead-valve inline four-cylinder gasoline engine with 2 valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 4.165:1. It produced 32 horsepower at 1,310 r.p.m. During three years of production (1908–1911) Wright “4-40” engines were built that operated from 1,3525 to 1,500 r.p.m. Power output ranged from 28 to 40 horsepower. These engines weighed from 160 to 180 pounds (72.6–81.6 kilograms).

Two 8½ foot (2.591 meters) diameter, two-bladed, counter-rotating propellers, driven by a chain drive, are mounted behind the wings in pusher configuration. They turned 445 r.p.m.

The Wright Model A  could fly 37 miles per hour (kilometers per hour).

Walter R. Brookins and his Wright Model A at Atlantic City, New Jersey, 9 July 1910.

Walter Richard Brookins was born at Dayton, Ohio, 17 July 1888. He was the second of four children of Noah Holsapple Brookins, a salesman, and Clara Belle Spitler Brookins.

Brookins, then working as a chauffeur, married Miss Grace M. Miller, a governess, on 7 February 1907, in Hamilton County, Ohio. They divorced 18 May 1911, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (An earlier divorce decree, issued in Dayton in 1910, was set aside.)

Walter Richard Brookins was the first civilian pilot trained by Orville Wright. He was in a group of five pilots trained for the Wright Brothers’ Exhibition Team at their training camp at what is now Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama.

Brookins was then hired as an instructor and finished training the last two men in the group. He was given a two-year contract with a salary of $20.00 per week, plus $50.00 per day for each flying day. Any prize money won—such as the $5,000 prize at Atlantic City—was turned over to the company.

All-In-One Liquid Measure. (Automobile Trade Journal)

From May 1919, Brookins, with his brother Earl, owned and operated the Brookins Manufacturing Company, Inc., in Dayton, which produced their invention, the All-In-One Liquid Measure. The first version was patented in 1924, and improvements followed.

Brookins married Mary Lamke, a secretary at McCook Field, Dayton, 12 April 1921. She held the position of corporate treasurer for the company. They remained together until his death.

In 1930, Brookins was self-employed in the financial industry. He and Mary relocated to California, living in Beverly Hills.

Brookins partnered with David R. Davis ² to form Brookins-Davis Aircraft Corporation, Los Angeles. In 1931 the company had applied for a patent for an airfoil profile designed by Davis, and which would become known as the “Davis Wing.”  The patent was issued 1934. Mrs. Brookins had known Major Reuben Hollis Fleet at McCook Field. (Fleet was the founder and president of the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation.) This led to meetings between Brookins, Davis and Fleet which resulted in the airfoil being licensed to Consolidated. It was used on the B-24 Liberator and B-32 Dominator heavy bombers.

Walter Richard Brookins died at Los Angeles, California, on 29 April 1953. His ashes were interred at the Portal of the Folded Wings, Valhalla Memorial, North Hollywood, California, 17 December 1953.

The Portal of the Folded Wings at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California. The remains of many pioneers of aviation are interred here. (Dignity Memorial)

¹ The actual length of the base line was 13,394.29 feet (4,082.58 meters). Brookins’ trangulated altitude was 6,175.48 feet (1,882.29 meters).

² Davis had previously co-founded the Davis-Douglas Company, which would become the Douglas Aircraft Company.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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