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Wright Bros Flyer III


Ready now to perfect the process of learning to power- fly successfully, the Wrights built the Carillon Park machine, their Flyer III of 1905, on which they finally learnt the secrets of powered flight, and solved its basic problems. Their third Flyer was strengthened, lengthened, with a little less wing area and a little more area of front elevators and aft rudders. With this plane they could bank, turn, make circles and figures of eight, all with ease. But that was not all; for this new Flyer was splendidly robust and reliable: it could not only stand up to repeated landings on rough ground, but, by October of 1905, it had made two non-stop flights, each of over half-an-hour, during which it covered distances of over 24 miles on each occasion.

They flew this 1905 "Flyer" a little more than three hours in 49 flights, the longest of 38 minutes 3 seconds for a circular distance of 24 miles. It could bank, turn, fly figure-eights and stay airborne for half an hour, making 59 flights in 1905, including carry a passenger.

By mid-October 1905 the Wrights had completed almost four hours of powered flight with three successive aircraft in some 150 take-offs. No one else had flown for more than a few seconds.

Although, in many respects, the Flyer III had a general resemblance to the first two machines, it was much more efficient. It was completed by the Spring of 1905: it was a biplane with a wing-span of 40ft 6in, the 15-20 horse-power motor driving two pusher propellers. The pilot, as in the two previous machines, lay prone to reduce head resistance. This new Flyer, like its predecessor of 1904, was taken to the Huffman Prairie, a 90-acre pasture at Simms Station, about eight miles northeast of Dayton, which was the world's first aerodrome, and had been lent to the Wrights in 1904 by their friend Torrence Huffman, a Day-ton banker. The machine was flown by Wilbur and Orville from June 23 to October 16, and made over 40 flights. The longest flight of this famous "season" was on October 5, when the Flyer III (piloted by Wilbur) was airborne for no less than 38 minutes 3 seconds; it travelled over 24 miles, at an average speed of about 38 miles per hour, making more than 29 circuits of the pasture. The Flyer made many other excellent flights, under perfect control, including another one of over half-an-hour, one of 25 minutes, and three of over a quarter of an hour. No aero-planes, other than those made by the Wrights, could equal the performance of this Flyer until October, 1908, by which time the Wrights themselves were making flights of over 1½  hours' duration. The one remaining problem was solved on this machine; how, by putting the nose down on tight turns, and gaining speed, a stall could be avoided. The Wrights knew that with this Flyer III they had a winner.

But owing to the difficulty of persuading the US Government to agree to buying a machine, and to the fear of industrial spying, the Wrights decided to remain grounded until satisfactory arrangements could be made for marketing their aircraft. They therefore occupied themselves with building several new Flyers and their engines, but they did not leave the ground between October 16, 1905, and May 6, 1908, when at last proper financial arrangements had been made.

Recalled from two-and-a-half years' retirement, the Carillon Park Flyer III was then taken out of storage and altered so that it could accommodate the pilot and one passenger, both sitting upright. The machine was then dismantled and transported to the Kill Devil Hills in order to allow the brothers to regain their skill as pilots before they made their flights in public, in 1908, on the new aeroplanes they had built. They flew the Flyer III from May 6 to 14, and rapidly became as expert as ever. They also made history again; for on May 14, the brothers in turn took up their friend Mr. C. W. Furnas of Dayton, in the two first passenger flights of history, the best of these lasting 3 minutes 40 seconds and covering 212 miles, with Orville piloting.

In 1908 they launched their invention upon the World, Wilbur in France, Orville at Fort Myer near Washington. The World acknowledged their genius demonstrated by some 36 hours of controlled flight despite an accident to Orville through a broken wire.


Wright Bros 1908 France

The Carillon Park Flyer III has many interesting points to note. It is a pusher biplane driven through a chain transmission by the engine lying on its side, and offset to starboard to allow for the weight of the pilot on the other side. The undercarriage of the machine consists of long skids, on which it landed at the end of a flight.

Hinged to the leading edge of the lower wing is the launching tow-rod, with its pin pointing down at the front end, over which the eye of the tow-rope is fitted. This rope ran forward to the end of the launching rail; then over a pulley-wheel; then back the whole length of the rail to the base of a wooden pylon (derrick) which stood behind the machine; then over another pulley-wheel, and up to the top of the pylon; then, it went over a third pulley-wheel fixed in the top of the pylon, and finally down a few feet to where it was fastened to a heavy weight. When the pilot was ready to take off with the engine running at full power, he released a catch which caused the weight to fall inside the pylon; this exerted a strong continuous pull on the rope, which rapidly towed the machine on its truck forward along the launching rail. When the machine reached the end of the launching rail, the pilot raised the front elevator, which resulted in the tow-rod meeting the cross-bar (joining the skids) as it rose, so that the eye of the rope was forced off the pin of the tow-rod. The Flyer was then moving at speed, and free, and became airborne; it then rose from the truck and was off on its flight. In 1905 the pilot lay prone (and well forward) on the lower wing, with his left hand grasping the elevator lever, and his right the horizontal lever which worked the double rear rudder. The curious U-shaped object seen on the lower wing is the warping cradle, into which the pilot fitted his hips, and to which are attached the cables which warp the wings by lowering the trailing (rear) edges at the end of one pair of wings, and simultaneously raising the trailing edges on the opposite side. To give his hips sufficient purchase to operate the warping system effectively, the pilot placed his feet on the foot-rest at the back. Other interesting items are the gasoline tank; the radiator; the tube-encased cycle-chains driving the propellers, one of which is crossed over in order to have the propellers revolving in opposite directions, and avoid torque; and the anemometer to record the airspeed.


The 1905 Flyer III was offered to the US War Dept for evaluation, who turned it down when they couldn't envision any practical use for a machine that flew. Modified in 1907 for demonstration flights, one earned national headlines. On 29 September 1909 Wilbur made a five-minute flight around the Statue of Liberty. To the amazement of the crowd, there was a red canoe attached to the bottom of the plane's skis during that flight—if the plane went down into water, Wilbur reasoned, he could use the canoe to float to safety. This feat was repeated on 5/26/2003 by a Dayton group who had built a flying replica of Flyer 3.
Wright Flier 3 Canoe attachment

It was Colonel E. A. Deeds, Chairman of the National Cash Register Company, who in 1946 had proposed that a permanent exhibition of early American methods of transportation be housed in Carillon Park. He then felt that the Wright brothers, who had become Dayton's most famous citizens, and who had done so much of their work in Dayton, must be worthily represented in the exfiibit; so he approached Orville Wright himself about this proposal. Orville at first suggested showing a replica of the famous "Kitty Hawk" machine of 1903 (the Wright Flyer I); but then he had another idea, and a much better one. He told Colonel Deeds that he thought it would be possible to assemble most of the original Wright Flyer III of 1905, Flyer II having been broken up, which he and his brother had flown so successfully at the Huffman Prairie; whereas a replica of the Flyer I would possess far less local interest, as it had only been flown at the Kill Devil Hills, and never at Dayton. This suggestion by Orville Wright was enthusiastically accepted by Colonel Deeds, and the delicate work of restoration was put in hand. The finished machine, in the elegant building specially constructed to house it, was displayed to the public for the first time in June 1950.






Flyer 3
Length: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Wing span: 40 ft 6 in (12 m)
Wing area: 503 sq.ft
Weight empty: 710 lb (322 kg)
Flying wt approx: 930 lb
Speed 35 mph (56 kph)
Range 24 miles (38 km)
Engine One 20 hp Wright
No of flights: 49
Longest flight: 38 min 3 sec / 24.25 mile
Total flying time: 3 hr 5 min
First light: 23 June 1905

Flyer 3A
Length: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Wing span: 40 ft 6 in (12 m)
Wing area: 503 sq.ft
Flying wt approx: 950 lb
No of flights: 22
Longest flight: 7 min 29 sec / 5 mile
Total flying time: 30 min
First light: 6 May 1908



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