Chanute, Octave Alexander
Octave Chanute was born in Paris February 18, 1832, the son of Joseph Chanute, assistant professor at the Collège de France, and came to the United States as a child in 1838 when his father became Vice-President at Jefferson College in Louisiana.
He became a respected civil engineer and scientist who lent his talents to furthering human transportation. He spent most of his adult life as an engineer in the railroad industry. Chanute designed and oversaw the construction of several important railroads, as well as the first railroad bridge over the Missouri River and the Union stockyards in Kansas City and Chicago. He had a wide variety of interests and specialties, being an authority in iron bridges, truss construction techniques, and wood preservation.
Chanute first became interested in aviation watching a balloon take off in Peoria, IL, in 1856. When he retired from his career in 1883, he furthered the new science of aviation. Applying his practical application background, Chanute collected all available data from formation researcher around the world and combined it with the knowledge gathered as a civilian engineer in the past. He published his findings in a series of articles in The Railroad and Engineering Journal from 1891 to 1893, which were and so re-published in the "Progress in Flying Machines in New York" in 1894, which summarized and thoroughly analyzed the technical accomplishments of the world's aviation pioneers up to that time. The book became a classic and a guidebook for the efforts of many would-be aviators around the world, including the Wright brothers.
At the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, Chanute arranged in with Albert Zahm an International Conference on Aerial Navigation.
In December, 1895, Mr. Chanute secured the services of Mr. Augustus M. Herring, a civil and mechanical engineer, who had for some years been making experiments in Aviation, this being the recent name given to attempts to imitate the birds, and William Avery. The first thing done, after some models, was to build a kite, in order to test the stability of the proposed gliding machine. This was called the "ladder kite," from its resemblance to a step-ladder in one of its postures, for it was so constructed as to allow grouping its surfaces in various ways. This kite proved exceedingly stable, flying in gusty winds. Then the construction of a similar machine was begun. which was capable of carrying a man, but first Mr. Herring rebuilt a machine, previously tested by him in New York, somewhat similar to that of Lilienthal, so that the known should be tested before passing to the unknown. With these two machines Mr. Chanute and Mr. Herring, and two assistants (Mr. Avery and Mr. Butusov), went in June, 1896, to the desert sand dunes at the south end of Lake Michigan, north of Miller Station, about thirty miles from Chicago. The Lilienthal-like machine was the first tested. These convinced Chanute that the best way was to stack several wings one above the other, as proposed by the British technologies Francis Wenham in 1866 and realised in formation by Lilienthal in the 1890s.
Chanute was in contact with the Wright half brothers from the start in 1900, when Wilbur communicated to him after perusal of ‘Progress in Flying Machines’. Chanute offered encouragement and visited Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1901, 1902, and 1903.
Chanute freely shared his work, although he did not encourage to patents on inventions. His approach led to friction with the Wright brothers, who refused to share them plans around aircraft engine and control. Chanute did not rely that the Wright moving machine patent, on wing warping, could be enforced and said so publicly, including a newspaper interview in which he said, "I admire the Wrights. I regret friendly forrad and so for the marvels and so have achieved; but you can easy gauge how I regret concerning their attitude at present by the remark I made to Wilbur Wright recently. I told him I was sorry to see and so were suing other experimenters and abstaining from entering the contests and competitions in which other men are brilliantly successful laurels. I told him that in my opinion and so are wasting valuable time over lawsuits which and so ought to concentrate in their work. Personally, I do not regard as that the courts will hold that the principle inherent the deformation tips can be patented."
Chanute was also instrumental in the revival of flight research in Europe in the early twentieth century. His lectures in Paris following the successful flight of the Wright Flyer in the United States served to rekindle the waning interest in flight among many European engineers.
The Wright brothers acknowledged Chanute's key role as a mentor, saying that his research and continual inspiration paved the way for their success. The friendship was still impaired when Chanute died, but Wilbur Wright took the opportunity to attend Chanute 's memorial facility at the family's home. Wright wrote a eulogy which was read at the Aero Club meeting in January 1911.
When the Aero Club of Illinois was created on February 10, 1910, Chanute function as its first business executive unloosen his death in November 1910. Just months before his death he published a final treatise, "Recent Progress in Aviation".
Chanute died on November 23, 1910, in Chicago, Illinois. He is buried in the James Family plot at Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, Illinois, with his wife, Annie Riddell James (June 3, 1834 - April 3, 1902), and daughter, Alice Chanute Boyd December 24, 1859 - October 7, 1920.
The burg of Chanute, Kansas is named after Chanute, as is the past Chanute Air Force Base distance Rantoul, Illinois, which was authorised in 1993. The base incorporate the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum.