Excerpts from Bishop Wright’s Diary for 1910

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Famous Wright Airplane Flights

The year 1910 was a big flying year for the Wright brothers. Their father, Bishop Milton Wright recorded much of it in his daily diary. I have selected a number of excerpts from his diary that talk about flying and other activities that they engaged in.

The Bishop made notations in his diary on a number of interesting topics including: the dispute over the Wright patent and Wilbur’s many trips to defend their patent, Huffman Prairie, Wright Exhibition team, President Theodore Roosevelt’s first airplane flight, Wright Model R airplane, first flight carrying freight, Orville flying over Dayton, Katharine flying with Orville, family affairs, and Milton’s thoughts on politics, Darwinism and religion.

Saturday, January 1: I am in my 82nd year in fair health, except lumbago.

Monday, January 3: News that the Wright brothers were granted an injunction against Herring & Curtis.

Saturday, January 8: Wilbur had word of the suspension of Judge Hazel’s injunction.

Tuesday, February 8: At 10:00 p.m., Wilbur and Orville start to Washington City, to receive, Friday, medals from the Smithsonian Institute.

Friday, February 11: Chief justice Fuller presented Wilbur and Orville, each, a gold medal, in behalf of the Smithsonian Institute. Taft, Senator Lodge and other dignitaries were there. Lodge spoke.

Note: They were awarded the first Langley Medals on Feb. 10. Orville returns to Dayton, Wilbur continues on a trip to the South in search of a site for training aviators during the winter months, returning to Dayton on February 25.

Thursday, February 17: News that Judge Hand had decided the suit against Paulhan in favor of the Wright brothers. An injunction temporary granted. A telegram from Wilbur from Augusta, Georgia says he finds a good place at Montgomery, Alabama.

Note: Louis Paulhan was a French aviator. He was charged with using several flying machines that infringed the Wright patent.

Thursday, February 25: Wilbur came home at 12:00 from N. York. Got out an injunction against Paulhan, security $25,000 for a month.

Monday, March 7: Wilbur left at 2:00 for the East to get affidavits to support those filed by himself and Orville in the retrial at Buffalo.

March 20: Wilbur arrived home from Buffalo. The parties did not insist on a retrial, but they agreed to a future trial of the Appeal.

Note: The injunction restrained Herring-Curtiss Co. from manufacturing, selling or using the Curtiss airplane for exhibition purposes.

Wednesday, March 23: At 2:40, Orville starts to Montgomery, Alabama, to train men to fly.

Note: Orville conducted flying school training for five students who were to engage in exhibition flying for the Wright Company. Walter Brookins, first civilian student, made his first flight with Orville on March 28.

Friday, March 25: Nice weather. Katharine went shopping with Mrs. F. H. Russell. Dinner late. She employed Carrie Brumbach to get supper and went with Agnes Osborn on a walk.

Note: Frank Russell was the first factory manager of the Wright factory in 1909.

Friday, April 1: The girls Ivonette and Leontine stay at night with us.

Note: The girls are the daughters of Lorin Wright

Friday, April 29: Evening paper tells of Orville’s flights at Montgomery, Alabama.

Tuesday, May 3: Wilbur returned home about 2:00 p.m. from New York City. Had done little by going.

Monday, May 9: Orville at Simm’s, made several flights. Wilbur is in New York.

Note: Simms refers to Huffman Prairie.

Tuesday, May 10: Orville appeared at about 3:00, at Pennsylvania depot on his way to New York to attend in the Court of Appeals in defense of the decision in favor of their temporary injunction against Herring Company & Curtiss.

Saturday, May 14: Orville is flying. We went out to see him. He flew seven times.

Wednesday, May 18 Orville flew in the forenoon 700 feet high. I saw him fly in the afternoon 1,520 feet.

Thursday, May 19: Orville mad a number of flights at Simm’s Station, one alone 1760 feet.

Saturday, May 21: We went to Simm’s and saw Orville fly about 2,000 feet. He prepared a new machine once. He flew with A.L. Welsh, LaChapelle, and Lorin. The wind was pretty still. We came home in an automobile with Mr. Thresher.

Wednesday, May 25: We went to Simm’s Station. Orville rose 1600 feet and 2600 feet in flights. Orville and Wilbur took their first flight together. Orville took me up 350 feet and 6.55 minutes (picture).

Thursday, May 26: Katharine and Wilbur go to Simm’s in the afternoon. Orville makes some eight flights. In one he rose about 2100 feet high. In one he shut off the motor and descended some six hundred feet, safely.

Saturday, May 28: Went to Simm’s, Orville and others took many flights. We went on a special car. Returned on 7:30 car.

Note: “Car” refers to the interurban railroad that stops at Simm’s Station.

Friday, June 3: The boys flew nearly twenty times with both machines today. Brookins rose nearly 1,000 feet, twice.

Sunday, June 5: Orville announced that applicants must be mechanics, expert, able to run a machine.

Wednesday, June 8: The “birds” flew much at Simm’s, all low flights.

Friday, June 10: The aeroplanes are removed to Indianapolis.

Friday, June 17: The International Aero Club has an excursion to Indianapolis — about 300. Walter Brookins rises about 4,503 feet, gets lost, lights in a field, three miles from the Speedway at Indianapolis.

Sunday, June 19: Wilbur and Orville came home about 11:00 from Indianapolis. Wilbur started at 4:00 for New York. He went to apply for a modification of the decision of the Appellate U.S. Court, asking that Herring Co. and Paulhan be required to give bond.

Note: On June 14, Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of Judge John Hazel on Jan. 3 and directs that the injunction granted the Wright Co. be dismissed and the requirement for bond be canceled.

Tuesday, June 21: Orville and Katharine start to Oberlin in afternoon. Ivonette and Leontine stay with me.

Note: On June 22 the Wrights received honorary doctor of laws degrees from Oberlin College where their sister Katharine had graduated.

Saturday, July 9: At home. Have an electric fan and electric light put onto my room.

Thursday, July 21: The boys move a flying machine to Simm’s Station, and make some experiments with wheels.

Thursday, July 28: I was at home all day. Knabenshue called in forenoon. Mr. Barnes dined with us. Katharine and Mrs. Knabenshue and Mr. Brewer and Mr. Plew of Chicago went to Simm’s Station, in automobile. Several flights were make, in all two hours flight, by pupils. Barnes is a secretary and director of the Wright Company.

Saturday, July 30: I went to Simms with Wilbur, Katharine and Mr. Griffith Brewer. Orville & Mr. Brewer flew 23 minutes. Mr. Coffyn flew alone twice, the last time 13 minutes

Wednesday, August 3: Wilbur got home at noon. Had no business of importance at New York.

Friday, August 19: Edward Harris came in the afternoon. The boys flew at Simm’s which Harris saw.

Sunday, August 21: At home all day. Mr. Parmalee called to see the boys Monday afternoon. Alexander Ochilvie (Ogilvie) and Coffyn and Brookins called.

Note: Philip Parmalee made the first aerial freight delivery when he flew from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio with several bolts of silk strapped to the passenger seat of his Wright Model B. Alexander Ogilvie is an Englishman who first met Wilbur in France in 1908. He traveled to Dayton to take flying lessons. Walter Brookins was a Dayton boy and Orville’s first aviation student. Frank Coffyn was trained to fly by the Wright brothers and a member of the Wright Exhibition Team.

Saturday, September 3: Mr. Alexander Ogilvie of England came to Dayton.

Friday, September 9: Mr. Russell and Ogilvie supped with us.

Saturday, September 10: Katharine went to Simms to witness flights.

Monday, September 12: Katharine went to Simms but there was no flying.

Wednesday, September 14: Ogilvie and Russell supped with Orville and Katharine.

Sunday, September 18: Alex. Ogilvie dined and supped with us. Mr. Coffyn and Brookins called in the afternoon.

Monday, September 19: Mr. P.O. Parmalee spent afternoon and evening with us. Wilbur started to Chicago at 10:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 21: Orville is at the Inter-Aero banquet.

Note: Wilbur and Orville are honored at a banquet at Dayton Club given by Dayton Aeroplane Club and Dayton Aero Club.

Thursday, September 22: Wilbur comes back home from Chicago, before breakfast. Orville flew to Dayton, and back to Simms, 2,000 feet high coming, and 4,000 feet going. 100,000 people saw him fly. At 5:00 Orville comes on his flyer, about 2,000 feet high, turns at Williams Street, goes near our Home, flies along Third Street to the limits of the City, and rising to about 4,000 feet, goes up Mad River to their grounds. Came nine miles in ten minutes, returned slower. Many Thousands saw him.

Note: This is the first flight of the Wrights over the city. Flight is part of an Aviation Day program held during Exposition Week in Dayton.

Saturday, September 24: I was at home. Katharine went to Simms and flew a thousand feet high with Orville.

Tuesday, September 27: Wilbur went to Chicago tonight.

Wednesday, September 28: Wilbur is at Chicago to witness Mr. Brookins preparation for a flight, thence to Springfield for $10,000 prize offered by the Chicago Record-Herald.

Thursday, September 29: Today Walter Brookins flew from Chicago to Springfield, Ill. He stopped at Gilman, 75 miles at 11:30 and at Mt Pulaski, 136 miles. It was 192 ½ miles with two stops. He reached the state fairgrounds at 4:27 p.m. Wilbur followed in a rail.

Note: Wilbur followed the flight in a special car attached to an Illinois Central train.

Friday, September 30: Katharine went with Mrs. Sines to Simm’s Aviation grounds. Wilbur came home from Springfield, Ill.

Note: Orville began his first business venture in printing with his childhood friend Edward Sines. Sines remained with the Wrights until the printing business was discontinued.

Sunday, October 2, Wilbur goes at 10:00 p.m. to Washington, Penn., to inspect grounds of flight agreed upon by Knabenshue.

Note: Roy Knabenshue was hired by the Wrights to oversee and manage the Wright Exhibition Team.

Saturday, October 8: Mr. Hoxsey flies from Springfield, Ill. to St. Louis, Missouri. Today, the Women’s League edition of the Daily News was issued. Katharine reported the flying exploits and wrote an article for the paper.

Note: Arch Hoxsey was an auto mechanic hired by Knabenshue for the Wright Exhibition Team. He took President Theodore Roosevelt for his first airplane ride.

Wednesday, October 12: John Feight took us out at 8:00 a.m. to Simm’s Station and we saw the new machine, 28 x 3 ½ feet.

Note: The machine was the Model R, “Baby Grand.”

Thursday, October 13: Mr. Ogilvie called at 1:30, he being back from St. Louis. Katharine and Mrs. Russell & Wallace went at 4:00 to Wright Company’s ground at Simms Station. Frank Russell’s and Russell Alger called at 8:00.

Thursday October 30: Wilbur started to New York.

Saturday, October 22: Orville tried his eight-cylinder engine and it worked well. We sup at Frank Russell’s. 77 to 78 miles an hour. The machine is 22 feet long; 3 ½ feet broad. His eight-cylinder engine weighs itself 100 pounds more than the four-cylinder one. It gives over 50 horsepower.

Note: The new engine is for use on the Model R.

Sunday, October 23: Orville, Katharine and Mr. Ogilvie started at 4:00 for New York. I supped at Lorin’s. Ivonette and Leontine came home with me and staid the night.

Note: October 22-30 the Wright airplanes participate in an International Aviation Tournament at Belmont Park, N.Y. The Wrights took the “Baby Grand” with them.

Tuesday, October 25: Letter from Katharine came from New York. Orville makes nearly seventy miles an hour with our racer.

Thursday, October 27: Card from Katharine. Johnstone & Hoxsey were floated off by winds, to Middle Island and Brentwood, L.I. Johnson 55 miles, Hoxsey, 25 miles.

Friday, October 28, Hoxsey and Johnson returned. Drexel, Hamilton and Brookins are chosen for America’s contestants. Ogilvie for Great Britain.

Sunday, October 29: Netta brought telegram to Lorin from F. H. Russell saying that Brookins’s Racer fell with him, but no bones are broken in the race.

Note: The “Baby Grand,” piloted by Brookins is wrecked in a preliminary test in preparation for the International Aviation cup.

Monday, October 31: Johnstone climbs at New York (Belmont) 9,714 feet; is higher than world’s record.

Monday, November 7: Orville and Katharine went to Simms to see Mr. Phil. O. Parmalee start to Columbus with several bolts of silk in an aeroplane. He flew there in 61 minutes and delivered the goods.

Tuesday, November 8: It is a pleasant morning for Election Day. I voted the Republican ticket, except for one man. Wilbur started to New York at 4:00 afternoon. New carpet laid in two rooms. Election news unfavorable.

Sunday, November 13: Orville started for Germany, Berlin, to instruct them how to build better machines.

Thursday, November 17: This is the eighty-second anniversary of my birthday. I am as spry as most men at half my age. Probably I do not appear older than most men at seventy. I got a picture card from my nephew Edward M. Harris, Lincoln, Kansas. Ralph Johnstone dashed to death in Denver.

Note: Wright Exhibition Company flier Ralph Johnstone was killed in a crash at Overland Park, Denver. Wilbur, in New York, accompanied the widow to her home in Kansas City, Mo., and attended Johnstone’s funeral there.

Friday, November 18: Mr. F. Russell & Lorin met Wilbur at the train with Mrs. Johnstone, on way to Kansas City, from New York.

Saturday, November 19: Mrs. Russell, Mrs. Guthrie, and Mrs. Stevens came in for gambling with Katharine.

Wednesday, November 23: Chanute, Octave died in Chicago, aged 79 years, nearly. We see that Orville arrived in Berlin, Germany, today. Octave Chanute was born in Paris, Feb. 18, 1832. His parents came to America in 1838.

Thursday, November 24: Wilbur started at 9:00 for Chicago to attend Octave Chanute’s funeral.

Note: Wilbur’s tribute to Chanute, written shortly after his death, was published in Aeronautics.

Wednesday, November 30: Women came in this afternoon to play cards. Wilbur started to New York about 4:00.

Friday, December 2: Katharine took Mrs. Melba King to Simms, where they watched three short flights.

Monday, December 5: Katharine and I met at Miss Reece’s Photograph Gallery for me to have my Photograph taken. A letter from Orville, written Thanksgiving Day, came today. He writes from Berlin, Germany. He is well.

Thursday, December 8: Wilbur came home at 1:00 from New York.

Friday, December 9: Wilbur was giving testimony in the suit against them at Cincinnati, and is not at home for dinner.

Sunday, December 18: I went to Grace M.E. Church and heard Dr. Fuller. Spoke of His Looking for the Kingdom of God. There were different ideas of the Km., 1. Abraham’s, 2. David’s, 3. Daniel’s, etc. He said something I could not hear that seemed to smack of Darwinism. I slept most of the afternoon. Darwinism is nonsense.

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