The Wrights At LeMans

Wrights World Debut

This day, August 8, 1908, as today in 2020, was a Saturday.  On this day, August 8, 1908, Wilbur Wright flew at the Les Hunaudieres Race Course in Le Mans, France, his first of nine flights over the next few days. And as we say in 2020, the crowd went wild.

Wilbur dispelled the disbelief.

He shared in a letter to Orville that this day was the finest in weeks for a trial, clear and windless.  And that, “I thought it would be a good thing to do a little something” (Crouch, The Bishops Boys).

Having made course and equipment set up the day long, in the evening, “he turned his cap backward… and said quietly, Gentlemen, I’m going to fly” (McCullough, The Wright Brothers).

Perhaps an understatement.  Wilbur made his first of nine flights at Le Mans before heading to a larger field at Camp d’Auvours.

He flew demonstrations solo.  He carried passengers.  He trained pilots.

World Headlines after that first flight-

Le Matin-WRIGHT FLEW.
Paris Herald-MR. WILBUR WRIGHT MAKES HIS FIRST FLIGHT:FRENCH EXPERTS AMAZED BY ITS SMOOTHNESS.
London Daily Mail-MARVELOUS PERFORMANCE, EUROPEAN SKEPTICISM DISSIPATED.
Echo de Paris-A TRIUMPH OF AVIATION
Chicago Tribune-WRIGHT BY FLIGHT PROVES HIS MIGHT
Dayton Journal-WRIGHT’S AEROPLANE ASCENDS LIKE A BIRD”
McCullough, 2015

And the previous critics

Who can doubt that the Wrights have done all that they claim, Rene Gasnier
Mr. Wright has us all in his hands.  What he does not know is not worth knowing-Paul Zends
Nous sommes battu-Leon Delagrange
For a long time, for too long a time, the Wright brothers have been accused in Europe of bluff-even perhaps in the land of their birth.  They are today allowed in France, and I feel an intense pleasure in counting myself among the first to make amends for that flagrant injustice-Archdeacon
Crouch, 1989

Crowds would continue to amass in the thousands to watch Wilbur fly.  Common folk to heads of state, kings, princes and princesses, queens, and diplomats from across Europe and Americans on travel.

It is not a stretch that Wilbur launched into one of the world’s first international celebrities-joined by Orville when he began flying at Ft. Meyer in September-they enthralled both sides of the Atlantic.

The First Flight Foundation looks forward to a soon forthcoming announcement with the NC Museum of History regarding the Wright Flyer 1905/08.