Today, the First Flight Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin remembers Wilbur Wright’s first public flight in Le Mans, France on August 8, 1908.
The Monday newspapers gave a glowing account of the Wilbur Wright’s Saturday performance, from the Youngstown Vindicator:
Riches Await Wright Bros.
French Think They Will Win $500,000 Prize.
Scorn Turned To Admiration.
Performance of Wilbur Wright at Le Mans, Say Paris Newspapers, Makes Most Advanced French Aeroplane Experts Appear As Imitatios —Those Who Ridiculed the Wright Machine Compelled to Admit Their Mistake. Wonderful Flight Disarms All Jealousy—Splendid Prize Within Reach.
The French press unites in spontaneous and enthusiastic praise of Wilbur Wright’s performance with his aeroplane Saturday at Le Mans and unhesitatingly expresses the opinion that even in this short flight it was undoubtedly proven that the Wright brothers are leaders in aerial navigation.
The average opinion is perhaps best summed up by the Figaro, which declares that it was not a success but a triumph, adding: “This decisive victory creates a revolution in the scientific world.”
“This man Wright,” exclaims another writer, “has conquered the air.”
M. Bleriot, the monoplanist, who witnessed the flight, frankly admitted that the Wright machine is far superior to anything yet invented.
Mr. Wright told the Associated Press that he was even embarrassed by the absence of wind.
On this point M. Bleriot said: “Mr. Wright’s aeroplane will fly in the wind at the beck and will of the operator.”
Several of the newspapers dwell with delight on Mr. Wright’s marvelous control of the machine and call attention to his taking corners and angles almost terrifying in their sharpness.
Admit They Lag Behind.
The expert in aerial navigation of l’Intransigeant writes as follows:
“It is not without a certain sadness that we applaud Mr. Wright’s success. The aeroplanes of Farman and Delagrange would seem to be only copies. When we contested the sincerity of Mr. Wright we were trying to believe that France would lead in aviation as in aerostatics, but Mr. Wright proves that we are but debutants.”
La Presse remarks that Mr. Wright’s first experiment in France establishes indisputably that his aeroplane is accomplishing marvelous things. “The Wright brothers now should be as much felicitated as they have been scoffed at,” the paper adds.
Other journals predict that the Wright brothers undoubtedly will fill the contract by which they will receive $500,000 if they effect two flights of fifty kilometers with a machine carrying two persons.
Weather Conditions Favorable.
Weather conditions for the test were splendid. The sky was blue and without a cloud and a gentle northwest breeze was blowing. It was shortly before 3 o’clock when the aeroplane, which is the same as that used in the United States, was brought out of its shed and mounted on a small single-wheeled chariot, which in turn was resting on a single rail on the ground.
After a preliminary test of the apparatus Mr. Wright declared all was ready and took a position beside the motor.
By means of a falling weight rigged on a beam erected in the ground and connecting with cords running to it the chariot was started running over the rail and the aeroplane, thus having been given a forward motion, suddenly left the chariot and ascended like a bird to a height of about forty feet.
Then it swerved and turned in its course and sailed up the field.
It dipped gracefully up and down, attaining a height of sixty feet and then descended to between thirty and forty feet.
Mr. Wright thus twice circled the field and then, stopping the motor, brought the aeroplane directly in front of the improvised grand stand, which was filled with wildly cheering spectators.
The descent was sure and easy and was carried out with great nicety, without causing shock to either the machine or its operator.
Another newspaper, the Toledo Blade, summarized the Le Mans’ success and highlighted another of the Wright brothers’ aeronautical components, the landing gear:
Airship Wheels Fold Up.
Ohio Aeronauts’ New Invention Acts as Do Feet of Birds.
The French press united in spontaneous and enthusiastic praise of the performance of Wilbur Wright. of Dayton, Ohio, with his aeroplane Saturday at Le Mans, and expresses the opinion that even in this short flight it was indubitably proven that the Wright brothers are leaders in aerial navigation.
Several of the newspapers dwell with delight on Wright’s marvelous control of his machine and call attention to his taking corners and angles almost terrifying in their sharpness.
Hart O. Berg, of Philadelphia, manager for Messrs. Wright, says it is possible that Mr. Wright, instead of doing 50 kilometers by flying around and around a race track, will soar high over the city of Le Mans for 15 kilometers and return to the track.
Berg says the Wrights have devised an arrangement of wheels which fold up during flight the same as birds’ feet which will obviate the necessity of the use of rails for starting the aeroplane.
The First Flight Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin shows with an image of the Wright brothers’ patented plans of 1908.