"Surprised In a Way and In a Way I Wasn't," Says John T. Daniels Who Saw First Flight", The Daily Advance (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 18 November 1932
"Surprised In a Way and In A Way I Wasn't" Says John T. Daniels Who Saw
Manteo, Nov. 18 "Sure I was surprised in a way and in a way I wasn't"
replied John T. Daniels of Manteo, one of the three living witness of the
first flight and aviations first casualty when asked what his reaction to
the sigh of a man flying in a heavier than air machine.
"Of course I had seen the brothers in their gliding experiments a lot in
the preceding two years, so I knew they could go through the air. But I
didn't know it with an engine.
"As far as that goes, they didn't know themselves for sure. One of them
told me that if they failed to fly, they would quit their
experimentation--but he added that he didn't think they were going to have
On the 17th of December 1903 Daniels, accompanied by Adam Etherfdge and
W.S. Dough of the Kitty Hawk Coast Guard Station with which he was also
connected, went to Kill Devil Hill to assist the brothers. There they were
joined [joined] by Johnny Moore of Nags Head
and W.C. Brinkley of these five witnesses, Etheridge and Moore are the
survivors in addition to Daniels.
Daniels said that the group assisted the brothers in carrying the machine
to the side of Kill Devil Hill and placed it on the monorail track where
it was tied fast with a wire. The engine was started ad allowed to warm up
while the Wright's separated themselves from the little group. They talked
together for several minutes then flipped a coin.
After is fell according to Daniels, the brothers cam together to the
machine and Orville shook hands with his brother, telling him goodbye. "He
couldn't have been sure that he would ever come back," said Daniels. Then
the younger brother came to the machine lay down in it and gave the signal
to clip the restraining wire. The machine shot down the track under its
own power and hen leapt into the air. Mr. Daniels strategically placed by
Wilbur, snapped the shutter of the camera taking the first photograph of a
plane in action.
"As the plane took off" recalled Daniels, "Mr. Orville Wright pulled her
nose up to high until she began to slip. Then he dropped her and managed o
get her leveled out, but couldn't maintain his altitude and had to come
down. His brother was there like a shot but Orville wasn't hurt.
Then Wilbur went up later and flew nearly three-quarters of a mile
according to an estimate by Daniels. "His plant was to fly around the
coast guard station and back," said the Manteo main, "but he wasn't flying
much high than my head and finally his rudder got caught in a sand dune
and pulled him down.
The former coast-guardsman [coastguardsman]
became the first casualty later when he was assisting the brothers in
returning the plane to the take off track. A strong breeze puffed up and
seeing the plane endangered he and Orville took one side and the rest of
the group. As the plane began to rise on one side, Wilbur and his
assistant dropped off, Orville, who was "as fast as lighting and as quick
as a cat" climbed right through the plane and out of side. According to
Daniels' story, he was larger than Orville and not as fast, and when he
tried to get thought he was caught by a strut and the plan whipped over
with him. "I tried to get loose," he reflected, "but the thing had me. I
was still caught and stayed with the plane until its was finally
wrecked--torn all to pieces, but I got out with barely a scratch."
Daniels said that when the Wrights came to Kitty Hawk they knew exactly
what they wanted to do and set out to do it. By he time they had gotten
their glider plans definitely settled for the final edition of that
machine, they were able to handle it almost perfectly. "As well as that
gull you see over there," is Mr. Daniels version.
"They were hard workers," he said. "When working time came they dropped
what they were doing, no matter what it was and went to work. And then
when quitting time came, they stopped and immediately became pleasant,
good-natured and good humored [good-humored]
men again. They were a fine pair."
|Citation:|| "Surprised In a Way and In a Way I Wasn't," Says John T. Daniels Who Saw First Flight", The Daily Advance (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 18 November 1932.|
|Location:|| North Carolina Collection, Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858 USA|