Tag Archive | St Myer VA

Rare Photos of the Wright Brothers at Fort Myer

On this day in September 17, 1908, Orville Wright and Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge test flew the Wright Flyer in a demonstration for the U.S. Army at Fort Myer, Virginia. Less than a thousand people witnessed the first flight at Fort Myer, because the general public was still doubtful that powered flight had been achieved. But Lewis Reed was there… and to commemorate that milestone, I have posted six original snippets of history that Lewis Reed captured through the lens of his camera that day.

1908 Wright Brothers airplane

Soldiers at Fort Myer prepare to pull the Wright Military Flyer out of its temporary hangar. Photo by Lewis Reed

Curtiss Model D airplane

Curtiss Model D with tricycle undercarriage. Photo by Lewis Reed

Curtiss Model D airplane

Curtiss Model D. Photo by Lewis Reed

Wright Brothers Plane 1908

Wright Model B with skids. Photo by Lewis Reed

Wright Brothers Plane, 1908

Another early aircraft from 1909 was the Bleriot XI monoplane. In the background a Rex Smith Aeroplane Company School is advertised on the side of a building. Photo by Lewis Reed

A Rex Smith Aeroplane Company School can be seen on the side of the building in the background. The founder, Rex Smith, was an inventor and a patent attorney. The Rex Smith Biplane was used in the successful April 3, 1911 U.S. Army Signal Corps experiments in wireless communications. The Signal Corps did not buy any Smith Biplanes, they did however use them from time to time to train pilots to fly the Curtiss aircraft at the same field.

Wright Brothers Plane, 1908

Airplane Hangars at Fort Myers, Virginia. Photo by Lewis Reed

The Wrights would prove their machine’s qualifications at Fort Myer. They met or exceeded all of the Army’s specifications, including flying at 40 miles per hour, carrying a combined passenger weight of 350 pounds, maneuvering in any direction in the air, landing without damage, and flying for at least an hour non-stop, which was a world record at the time.

Today, the Wright brothers are legends, with their accomplishments being the storybook example of American perseverance and ingenuity.

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