The 1904 Flyer
They built a hangar on the field and began experimenting with
their second powered airplane in May 1904. They began using
a tower-and-drop-weight catapult launching device to assist
takeoff in lighter winds.
The 1903 airplane’s main problems were pitch instability
and an overly sensitive elevator. To deal with the instability,
the Wrights added weight to the front of their 1904 Flyer to
shift the center of gravity forward. They also moved the elevator
farther ahead of the wings, which dampened the control response
and made the aircraft easier to fly.
The first circular flight
Improvement came slowly. The Wrights did not
match their 59-second flight of 1903 until the 49th flight
of their 1904 airplane. On September 20, 1904, the Wrights finally
flew their first complete circle. The flight lasted 1 minute,
36 seconds and covered 4,080 feet.
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