1905 Plane Parts

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in The Kitty Hawk Years

Margaret Hollowell sent to Orville Wright in 1928 a number of items she had collected from Kitty Hawk and asked him to identify them. He laid the request aside and forgot about it until nine years later.

He had his secretary Mabel Beck sent a letter to Hollowell to find out if she still lived at the same address. She did, so he wrote the following letter to her on December 27, 1937.

Miss Margaret Hollowell

Bay Side,

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Dear Miss Hollowell

I am reporting under separate cover all of the material sent to me in 1928 for identification, excepting two small wooden wheels. I am not returning the letter because they were never used on any of our gliders or flying machines and have no value.

The two pieces of cloth were from the covering of the wings of the 1905 motored plane. The unvarnished ash pieces are ribs of the 1902 glider.

The signature to the letter of August 17, 1908 to you was written by my brother, Lorin.

The paper targets were made in May 1908. The initials W, C and O indicate Wilbur, Charles Furnas, and myself.

Comment: He is referring to gun targets. The Wrights would set them at 50 yards and compete for who could get the best score. The initials were written next to the bullet holes. Charles Furnas was a Dayton mechanic who joined the Wrights at Kitty Hawk in 1908. He became the first airplane passenger while he was there.

The motored plane, of which you have the parts, was flown at Dayton in 1905. In 1908 it was taken to Kitty Hawk so we could get practice before attempting to carry out contracts which we had engaged to fulfill that year.

The wings of the 1905 machine and most of the wooden parts we left in one of the buildings at Kitty Hawk.

One of the coast guards at the Life Saving Station needing lumber, stripped the siding off the buildings and left the 1905 plane and our 1902 glider exposed to the elements.

Sincerely yours,

Orville Wright

Comment: The 1902 glider was left behind after the first flight in 1903. When the Wrights returned to Kitty Hawk in 1908, they found the skeleton of its wing sticking out of the sand outside the original hanger. The roof of the hanger had collapsed spilling the 1902 glider on the ground.

The 1905 Flyer was left to rot in the sand at Kitty Hawk after its last flight in 1908. It was later salvaged by others and restored under Orville’s guidance. It now resides in splendor at Carillon Park in Dayton.

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