Octave Chanute, the foremost aeronautical publicist during the 1890s and early 1900s, encouraged and supported the Wright brothers and many other aviation pioneers.

His 1894 book Progress in Flying Machines, the most complete aeronautical treatise to date, was read by the Wrights. He published numerous articles and his lectures in France revived French interest in aeronautics. Emigrating from France as a young boy, he became a renowned civil engineer. Among his successes were the first bridge over the Missouri River at St. Louis, and the Kansas City and Chicago stockyards. At age 64, when his gliders were first flown, Chanute felt that he was too old to fly. His associates Augustus Herring and Charles Avery did instead, amassing more than 1,000 flights. The first successful flight of one of his gliders was from a sand dune at Miller, Indiana, the present site of Gary. This glider, designed and sponsored by Chanute himself, was flown more than 2,000 times by many different people. Its major contribution to aeronautics was the wire rigging, adapted from the Pratt truss, which has been used in biplanes ever since. The airplane in our collection is a 1:2 scale replica.

Specifications of original full-size glider: Span 16 ft. 0 in., length 12 ft. 2 in., weight 23 lbs.

Accession no. 1993S02

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