An Overview of the Two-surfaced gliders that came out of the 'Chanute Group.'
Centered around Octave Chanute, Chicago was one of three centers of aeronautical
research in the United States in 1896. From his group came the Chanute-Herring glider
that was to be the most significant pre-Wright aircraft. Two strongly trussed wings
with a cruciform tail, the wings would be the design chosen by the Wright brothers
to build their planes. The glider foreshadowed the bi-planes of the early years
While Chanute was cautious about the future of this glider as an airplane, his assistant
and chief contributor to the design, Augustus Herring, was inspired. Convinced that
all was needed was an engine and propellers on the glider, he built and experimented
with a three winged glider immediately following the initial experiments in the
Indiana Dunes in 1896. The following year he found a new patron in Matthias Arnot,
who financed the building of a bi-plane glider fashioned after the original Chanute-Herring
glider. And the next year, 1898, he did put an engine and propellers on a bigger
version of the glider and 'flew' it near his home in St. Joseph, Michigan. Chanute
built one more of the 'original' glider, exhibiting and flying it at the St. Louis
Exposition of 1904. Only the last one survives, having been bought by the Musee
de l'Air, it is on public display at the new Musee de l'Air et de l'Space at the
Bourget Airport in Paris, France.
The following table provides an overview and comparison of these gliders.