Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week
FREE Admission & Parking

Progress in Flying Machines: Octave Chanute

Octave Chanute was already a well-known engineer when he began studying the problem of flight. His classic 1894 volume Progress in Flying Machines brought together in one book a history of humankind's attempts to fly.

Chanute also applied his knowledge of bridge building to the design of gliders. Some of the gliders Chanute designed and tested had either moveable wings or tail control surfaces. All of his gliders, however, relied on the pilot's body movements for control, which limited their landing ability.

No less important in the history of aviation was Chanute's role as friend and adviser to Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Wrights used Chanute's book as a starting point to understand human knowledge of flight to that point. Also, during the Wright brothers' early experiments with gliders, Chanute offered encouragement and advice based on his own observations.

Click here to return to the Heavier-than-Air Flight Overview.