This page shows a computer drawing of the Wright
brothers' 1904 aircraft. This machine was the second
aircraft built by the brothers.
acting on this aircraft are identical to the forces
which act on any modern aircraft.
Following the successful first flights at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903,
the brothers returned to Dayton, Ohio.
On each of the four flights of that day, the
aircraft exhibited an
the nose, and consequently the entire aircraft, would slowly bounce up and down.
On the last flight, hard contact with the ground broke the front
The brothers decided to build a new aircraft for 1904 with the
of the 1903 flyer.
You can study the design of the 1904 aircraft by changing the
view using the buttons at the
bottom of this Java program.
You can download your own copy of this applet by pushing the following button:
The program is downloaded in .zip format. You must save the file to disk and
then "Extract" the files. Click on
"1904.html" to run the program off-line.
They built a new engine similar to the 1903 engine but
increased the power from 12 horsepower to 18 horsepower by
slightly increasing the bore (diameter of the piston).
They also built a new airframe with
The new aircraft was to be flown from a cow pasture owned by Torrence Huffman
and located just outside Dayton.
Here is a photo taken in 1904 at Huffman Field:
Without the winds of Kitty Hawk, it was a problem getting enough airspeed
to fly. So the brothers
devised a catapult system to help launch the aircraft.
Once airborne, the aircraft experienced
the same pitch problems as the 1903 aircraft. In an effort to solve
the problem, they moved the
radiator and fuel tank from the front struts
to the rear struts and moved the engine slightly aft to move the aircraft
center of gravity aft.
But this only made the pitch problem worse. So the brothers
added 70 pounds of iron bars as ballast to the front elevator to move the
center of gravity farther forward.
The weight of the aircraft then increased to about 900 pounds with the pilot.
The ballast improved the handling of the aircraft and Wilbur
was able to complete the
first circuit of the airfield on September 20, 1904.
Here is a photo taken of the aircraft in flight in 1904:
By the end of the year, the plane could
complete four circuits and stay in the air for five minutes,
but the aircraft still had major handling problems and it was overweight.
It would take one more re-design in
before the Wrights would have a fully operational aircraft.