Wind and sand he wanted, wind and sand he got

On this day in 1900: Orville Wright, uncomfortably encamped at Kitty Hawk, writes his sister:

“This is ‘just before the battle,’ sister, just before the squall begins. About two or three nights a week we have to crawl up at 10 or 11 o’clock to hold the tent down. When one of these 45-mile nor’easters strikes us, you can depend on it, there is little sleep in our camp for the night. Expect another tonight. We have passed through one which took up two or three wagon-loads of sand from the N.E. end of our tent and piled it up eight inches deep on the flying machine.

“We certainly can’t complain of the place. We came down here for wind and sand, and we have got them.”


To whom it may concern — from Orville Wright

“Someone from Dayton, Ohio…  visited the towns around eastern North Carolina and handed out flyers with a kindly request asking, ‘Please return whatever parts of the plane you still have, and I [Orville Wright] will send each of you a letter of thanks and a small sliver of wood from the actual plane that made the first flight, now on display at the Smithsonian.’ ”

The headline “An incredible piece of aviation history” may be a bit hyperbolic (Amelia’s logbook, that would be incredible), but Palmer Wood does unfold a fascinating story.