In 1897 Chanute inaugurated experiments with models for the purpose of testing still a third method of obtaining automatic equilibrium, but that these had not proceeded very far. Augustus Herring, having been requested by an amateur to supply him with a gliding machine, had built a new one with his regulating mechanism, and it being tested at Dune Park in September, 1897.
After arriving at the starting point the glider was held with the chord of the surfaces pointed downward at a considerable negative angle in order that the machine should sustain only its own weight, and at the same time the apparatus was directed squarely into the momentary wind so that both sides lifted equally, and, while the machine was thus poised, the operator (in front of the apparatus), released his hold and slipped quickly underneath, passing his arms over the longitudinal bars (called arm bars), beneath the lower surface, at the same time grasping the front pair of diagonal struts which joined these bars to the framing. This done, the whole machine was lowered until the small cross-piece in the rear of the operator rested on his hips or the small of his back. In this position a considerable leverage could be exerted, and with practice even a novice could soon hold the machine under perfect control until the actual start was made down the hill.
Mr. Herring and Mr. Avery, who were the experts who operated this machine at Dune Park, seldom or never struck the ground with greater force than would have been produced by jumping down one or two feet, and even when racing no sprained ankles occurred.
Glide were generally 200 or 300 feet long, and occupied 8 to 14 seconds. The operators generally alternate in taking such flights.
With a wing area of 131 square feet, they had been able to experiment in winds of 31 1/2 miles an hour.
The speed varied all the way from 10 to 40 miles an hour in reference to the ground or from 18 to 57 miles per hour in reference to the air, at the will of the aviator. The running start in a calm consisted of about half a dozen steps; in moderate winds, from two to three; and in high winds (those above 25 miles an hour), it was only necessary to give a slight positive inclination to the surfaces, when the machine and operator were raised high in the air, and then commenced their forward journey against the wind. After reaching a certain point over the hillside (approximately one-third the way down the hill), a sudden decrease in support was generally experienced, due, in all probability, to a mass of slower moving air between the base and top of the hill, as measurement with the anemometer showed very much higher wind at the starting point and at the foot of the hill (or over the level stretch below) than between the two.
The length of flight being on an average 268 feet horizontally in a descent of 42 feet in windy weather, or 254 feet in a calm from the same point.