The elder statesman of aeronautical experiments
October 1, 2005 6:50 PM Subscribe
During his early years, eminent civil engineer Octave Chanute invented the process of preserving railroad ties and telephone poles with creosote in the 1860s. But more importantly, he was instrumental to the invention of the aeroplane. Working with an improved Otto Lilienthal glider, a German who died from spinal injuries sustained on a test flight, Chanute’s team experimented extensively with a seven-wing glider dubbed the Katydid, the famous Aerocurve, and the disastrous Albatross on the shores of Lake Michigan (described by a Chicago Times-Herald reporter). But most importantly, his book, Progress in Flying Machines, inspired the Wright Brothers, with whom he frequently visited. Sadly, Chanute never flew, citing his advanced age as reason enough to stay grounded.
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