WRIGHT BROTHERS REVOLUTIONARY FLYING MACHINES THIS WEEK AT LIVEAUCTIONTALK.COM
Flight preparation at Camp d’Auvours; Gelatin Silver Print Photo; hand-signed by Wilbur Wright; 1908; 16 ½ inches by 12 ¼ inches; sold for $5,750. Photo courtesy of Poster Auctions International.
Photographs are like footprints in history. Truth tellers. Eyes of the past.
They show as well as tell us about the way it was. Unedited. The summer of 1908 was no exception. The eyes of the world were on the Wright Brothers and their revolutionary flying machines.
It was the first time one of them flew solo without the other close by and the flight was captured on film.
Wilbur was flying almost daily out of a field in Le Mans, France. In five months he made 129 flights while Orville stayed in Dayton, Ohio, getting ready to fly a second airplane to Fort Myer, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
After weeklong flights at Hunaudieres, Wilbur moved to a larger field not far away at Camp d’ Auvours and made his first flight out of there on August 21.
He was in the air everyday breaking records as fast as he set them.
Letters of congratulations arrived daily from heads of state all over Europe. Bouquets of flowers and baskets of fruit kept arriving at Wilbur’s shack too. On some days crowds at the field were so large the local military commander had to start a ticket system.
In a letter to Orville, Wilbur talked about the people who watched or flew with him.
“Princes and millionaires” appeared to be “as thick as thieves” at the flying ground.
Each brother worried about the other’s solo flights. Wilber warned Orville:
“In your flights at Washington I think you should be careful to begin practice in calms and keep well about the ground. You will probably be unable to cut as short curves as I do here, but you will have it easier on your speed test in a straight line.”
Some Frenchmen doubted Wilbur could even get his flying machine off the ground. They figured if he did it was because he was an accomplished acrobat trained to balance his machine in flight.
Others said Wilbur could clearly be seen coasting in the sky above France between 35 to 40 miles an hour. Sitting upright, almost motionless, they said you could see him applying light pressure to the levers in each hand like handlebars on a bicycle.
In truth Wilbur said controlling the unstable Flyer was not easy. He made numerous mistakes but was able to correct them before spectators on the ground were even aware.
The Wright brothers were a team from the beginning. Wilbur described it best:
“From the time we were little children, my brother Orville and myself lived together, played together, worked together, and, in fact, thought together. We usually owned all our toys in common, talked over our thoughts and aspirations so that nearly everything that was done in our lives has been the result of conversations, suggestions, and discussions between us.”
Their alchemy resulted in the “Wright Flyer” the world’s first successful airplane. The aircraft was the first heavier-than-air powered airplane to make a continual, controlled flight with a pilot aboard. Teamwork and gumption made it possible for the self-taught engineers to pull it off.
On Nov. 8, the International Poster Center in New York, held its semi-annual rare and vintage poster auction. Included in the auction were several pieces of Wright Brothers memorabilia. Here are some current values.
Banquet Menu; Wilbur Wright/L’Aero Club de France; 1908; 9 ½ inches by 12 1/8 inches; $2,760.
Lithograph Aviation Poster; The World’s Greatest Aviators; 1909; 26 ½ inches by 30 inches; $5,750.
Gelatin Silver Print Photo; flight preparation at Camp d’Auvours; hand-signed by Wilbur Wright; 1908; 16 ½ inches by 12 ¼ inches; $5,750.
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