1903 Master Index 1905

1904 Chronology of Aviation History
Major Aviation Events


  • 1904 (Sweden) — the Royal Swedish Navy commissions Ballondepotfartyg Nr 1 (“Balloon Depot Ship №1”), a barge designed to operate one kite balloon. She is the first watercraft designed and built specifically for aeronautical purposes. [3,5]

  • 1904 (Vladivostok, Russia) — At Vladivostok, Imperial Russian Army engineer Captain Fyodor A. Postnikov and his crews make frequent ascents in spherical balloons and a kite balloon from Russian ships, and the armored cruiser Rossia tests various forms of air-see communications from balloons, and the use of shipboard balloons for directing gunfire against shore targets and in detecting naval mines. [3]

  • 1904 (France) — The French Navy disbands its balloon branch. [3]

January 1904

  • 4 January 1904 (London, England) — The committee on military ballooning, established last year to consider improvements to military aviation in the light of the Boer War, publishes its report, recommending the development of dirigible (steerable) airships for the British Army. [1]

  • 10 January 1904 (France) — Using Octave Chanute as an intermediary, Ferdinand Ferber writes to ask the Wright brothers if he can buy one of their machines. He has just received a letter from Orville describing the brothers' success with the Flyer. [1]

February 1904

  • February 1904 (Russia) — Before the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War, the Imperial Russian Navy conducts many experiments with towing balloons and man-lifting kites from its warships. [3]

  • 5 February 1904 (Paris, France) — French not willing to believe Wrights. There is barely concealed disbelief in France that the Wright brothers have achieve powered flight, as they claim. This feeling came to a head last night at the dinner at the Aéro-Club, when a highly respected member, Victor Tatin, openly expressed his doubts, describing reports as “incomplete and often contradictory”. This follows a statement by the Wright brothers on January 5 describing their four flights in detail. When the statement was reproduced in L'Aérophile magazine, it caused a furor. The Wrights claimed to have flown “using entirely new systems of control”. Tatin is outraged at the thought that history may one day show that “aviation, born in France, only became successful thanks to the Americans”. [1]

  • 17 February 1904 (St. Louis, Missouri) — The Wright brothers inspect the grounds where the St. Louis Aeronautical Exposition will be held in April. [1]

  • 22 February 1904 (Paris, France) — A glider designed by Ernest Archdeacon is examined by the technical commission at the Aéro-Club. A poor imitation of the Wright-type glider, it was constructed by Dargent at the Chalais-Meudon military works. Trials are set for April. [1]

March 1904

  • March 1904 (London, England) — Flying enthusiast Patrick Alexander reports to the Aeronautical Society on visits he has made to the Wright brothers in the United States, but his comments on their gliding experiments are greeted with considerable skepticism. [1]

  • 22 March 1904 (Dayton, Ohio) — The Wrights apply for a French patent for their airplane. [1]

  • 24 March 1904 (Dayton, Ohio) — The Wights apply for a German patent for their airplane. [1]

  • 25 March 1904 (Paris, France) — Double prize money spurs on the French. European aviation has received a major financial stimulus. Wealthy Irish lawyer Ernest Archdeacon, president of the Aéro-Club de France, has today announced that he is going to put up FF25,000 toward a new aviation prize. This money will now be added to the FF25,000 already committed by industrialist and aviation enthusiasts Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe to create the Grand Prix d'Aviation Deutsch-Archdeacon. The new prize, which has to be won in 5 years from October 1, is intended to boost European aircraft developments in the wake of the Wright's pioneering powered flight last year. It will be awarded to the first pilot who can fly an airplane around a 1-km (0.6-mile) course and land with machine intact. [1]

April 1904

  • 1 April 1904 (Berck-sur-Mer, France) — Glider lets Ferber down at Berck-sur-Mer. Bulky artillery captain Ferdinand Ferber, 42, continues doggedly to try to emulate the Wright brothers. Using a glider imperfectly modeled by Ernest Archdeacon on an outdated Wright brothers' design, Ferber collected bruises, but no laurels as he launched himself into a short hop from a massive dune here in Normandy. In six years' experimentation, Ferber has flown no more than 16 feet. As he puts it: “To conceive a flying machine is nothing; to build it is something; to test it is everything&rdwquo;. [1,3]

  • 3 April 1904 (Berck-sur-Mer, France) — Voisin has better luck on Berck dunes. Novice aviator Gabriel Voisin from Lyon made a dramatic public debut today. Flying Archdeacon's biplane glider, he was launched from the summit of Berck dune. He said afterwards: “The moment I left the ground an up-gust swept me upward irresistibly … all the same I brought my aircraft down at the foot of the hill without incident.” The demonstration has assured Voisin immediate prestige. Voisin wanted more stability in the air, and within one hour he had modified his glider with more forward-looking in the form called the canard, as it resembles a duck in flight. His own body-weight, as he crouched in a new position on the port side, trimmed the aircraft better. Later in the day, in a less steep area, he made several more lasting lasting up to 25 seconds. Young Voisin has scorned the efforts of Ferdinand Ferber, saying he “bent” things badly, and his weight was a handicap. Ferber, meanwhile, is claiming that it was after earlier tests in which Voisin was “pitched out and bruised” that the glider's designer, Ernest Archdeacon, summoned him to Normandy from Nice by telegraph to show “the new aviators” how to fly his machine. [1,3]

  • 30 April 1904 (St. Louis Missouri) — The St. Louis Exposition opens. Octave Chanute exhibits a replica of his biplane glider of 1896, which he launches by using an electric winch. [1]

May 1904

  • 4 May 1904 (Manchester, England) — The Honorable Charles Rolls, a keen motorist and flyer, enters a business agreement with Henry Royce to combine for the manufacturer of motor cars. [1]

  • 9 May 1904 (Chalais-Meudon, France) — Ferdinand Ferber arrives at the military airfield of Chalais-Meudon, to which he has been transferred from Nice. [1]

  • 9-11 May 1904 (Sea of Japan) — The Imperial Russian Navy armored cruiser Rossia carries a balloon on a raiding cruise against Japanese ships into the Sea of Japan in the first use by a warship on a balloon on the high seas in wartime. The balloon makes 13 successful ascents before it breaks its mooring lines and is damaged after landing on the sea. [3]

  • 23 May 1904 (Huffman Prairie, Ohio) — The Wright brothers make their first flight attempt in the Wright Flyer II. They are not successful. [3]

  • 26 May 1904 (Huffman Prairie, Ohio) — The Wright brothers make their first successful flight and the Wright Flyer II. It was the first of 100 flights that they will make in the Flyer II during 1904. [2,3]

  • 27 May 1904 (Huffman Prairie, Ohio) — Journalists invited to witness the Wright brothers' tests at their new airfield at Huffman Prairie, near Dayton, are skeptical after five days of bad weather, despite the fact that yesterday they saw Orville make the first flight of the Wright brothers' new machine, Flyer II, covering some 30 feet. [1]

June 1904

  • June 1904 (St. Louis, Missouri) — Colonel J. E., Capper, the officer commanding the British Army Balloon Section, visits the exposition here, to ascertain American progress and aeronautics. [1]

  • June 1904 (Aldershot, England) — Official British military tests are carried out on Samuel F. Cody's man-carrying kites at Aldershot. [1,3]

July 1904
  • No data.

August 1904

  • August 1904 (Port Arthur, Manchuria) — An Imperial Japanese Navy observer in an Imperial Japanese Army kite balloon spots fire for a naval shore battery against Russian ships in the harbor at Port Arthur during the siege of Port Arthur. It is the first time in history that observer in any kind of aerial device directs gunfire against a purely naval target. [3]

  • 3 August 1904 (Oakland, California) — Thomas Scott Baldwin makes a circular flight in his dirigible airship, California Arrow, which is powered by an air-cooled Curtiss motor-cycle engine. [1,2,3]

September 1904

  • 15 September 1904 (Huffman Prairie, Ohio) — Wilbur Wright at the controls of the Flyer II demonstrates his first controlled half-circle turn in flight. For the previous eight days, the Wrights had been using a new catapult launching system at their Simms Station flying base. The new catapult launching system allows the Flyer II to take off regardless of the strength of the wind. [1]

  • 20 September 1904 (Simms Station, Ohio) — Wilbur Wright flies aircraft in a circle. Wilbur Wright, by now a seasoned operator of the flying machines made by him and his brother Orville, today managed to fly a complete circle. He was flying in the Wright Flyer II, and improved version of the machine that made the first controlled powered flight last December. The brothers have moved from the dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, were that flight was made to large field, owned by a dairy farmer, eight miles east of Dayton. They have so far been content to make short straight hops. But they realized that a useful aircraft must be able to turn and have been steadily gaining experience and maneuvering their machine in the air. At first, they could not turn fast enough to go around in a complete circle within the confines of the field, which has tall trees on two sides, and they have had to land in order to avoid flying over neighboring property. Now, with increasing confidence, they are able to judge their turns. The fact that they can go around and around means that they will be able to make much longer flights. The Wright brothers shun publicity, however, and have no plans to fly any nearer Dayton itself. [1,3]

  • 24 September 1904 (Paris, France) — The Aéro-Club launches a competition for manned airplanes, with a prize of FF1,500 for the first flying machine, powered or unpowered, to achieve a flight of 100 m [328 feet] into the wind. The rules state that the difference in height between the points of takeoff and landing must not be more than 17 cm. [7 inches]. [1]

October 1904

  • 1 October 1904 (St. Louis, Missouri) — Gasoline-engine airship goes adrift. A 56-foot-long airship has thrilled spectators, but narrowly avoided disaster, at the St. Louis Exposition. The lumbering dirigible, named California Arrow, was piloted by Roy Knabenshue, who described the trip as “harrowing”. He added: “We narrowly missed the fence and then we headed straight for the Brazilian building and missed it by inches, then headed straight for the Ferris wheel and I had visions of sliding down one of its spokes. By experimenting with the tiller rope, I found it possible to steer.” By now, powered by Glenn Curtiss's lightweight gasoline engine, the California Arrow was speeding along at 20-mph. Knabenshue continued: “I described a wide circle and headed Back. A thousand feet from the landing place, the engine died and we became a free balloon and drifted across the city and landed in Illinois. The ship's designer, Thomas S. Baldwin (a parachute jumper and showman) reckons that a lightweight power unit is a solution to many problems of powered flight. Curtis, who built a 10-hp engine for his motorcycle racers, might have the answer. Whenever the outcome, the eventful journey of the California Arrow is thought to be the first circular course followed by a dirigible in the United States. [1]

  • 23 October 1904 (Dayton, Ohio) — British Colonel visits the Wrights at Dayton. Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. Capper, a senior officer from the British Army's Balloon Factory at Farnborough, today paid a surprise visit to the Wright brothers at their home. It was an unofficial approach, made on Capper's own initiative after traveling to the International Aeronautics Congress, which was held in conjunction with the St. Louis Exposition. Capper is known to have been interested in visiting the Wrights ever since the first reports of the powered flight in December last year. He is an advocate of the use of flying machines for military scouting. The Wright family courteously received their guest at their Hawthorn Street home. Orville and Wilbur Wright showed him photographs of some of their machines in flight, and revealed their engine to him, but they were careful not to show him their full machine for fear that he would glean too much about their methods of flying, especially the wing-warping system. Capper's report to the War Office will probably state that Britain is lagging behind the United States in aeronautical development. [1,2]

  • October 1904 (Chalais-Meudon, France) — Ferdinand Ferber begins trials with his glider N° 5 at Chalais-Meudon. Trying to achieve longitudinal stability, he makes an important innovation in adding a forward stabilizer to the Chanute/Wright-type machine. [1]

  • October 1904 (France) — French flyer experiments with a new control system in his glider. In a surprising statement, Robert Esnault-Pelterie claims that using wing-warping to maintain transverse equilibrium on gliders is too dangerous. He says: “it was possible, in our opinion, to cause magnified tension on the wires.” Instead, he has invented a new device comprising two separate horizontal surfaces which are mounted forward on the wings. The pilot has a hand-operated wheel to control them. Used symmetrically, they provide longitudinal stability. Used differentially, they control lateral stability. This is just the latest modification made to his unsophisticated copy of the 1902 Wright-type glider, which he found to be poor in its original form during maiden tests in May. Earlier this month, the glider reappeared in modified form for a second series of trials. These too were not successful. The wings had been given less curvature in section, the wing-span reduced to 31-ft 6-in and the elevator removed. Wing-warping had been added, but with downward movement only. Pilot weight-shift provided pitch control. The “new surfaces” were installed for the present third series of trials. The glider is being towed behind a car on a trolley but has so far not achieved much. [1,3]

November 1904

  • November 1904 (Russia) — The Imperial Russian Navy begins conversion of the passenger ship Lahn into an aviation ship named Russ capable of handling a spherical balloon and eight kite balloons and of supporting aerial photography. Russ is the first self-propelled, seagoing ship intended specifically for aeronautical services and the first ship to employ multiple aeronautic devices. [3]

  • 9 November 1904 (Dayton, Ohio) — Wilbur Wright flies the Wright Flyer II a distance of 3 miles near Dayton, Ohio. This is the first flight of longer than 5 minutes.[3]

  • 19 November 1904 (Paris, France) — Ernest Archdeacon adds a bronze gilt cup worth FF2,500 to the prize offered by the Aéro-Club on September 24. [1]

December 1904
  • No data.

Works Cited
  1. Gunston, Bill, et al. Chronicle of Aviation. Liberty, Missouri: JL Publishing Inc., 1992. 14-17
  2. Parrish, Wayne W. (Publisher). "United States Chronology". 1962 Aerospace Yearbook, Forty-Third Annual Edition. Washington, DC: American Aviation Publications, Inc., 1962, 446-469.
  3. Wikipedia, 1904 in aviation
  4. Shupek, John (photos and card images), The Skytamer Archive., Whittier, CA
  5. Wikipedia, Ballondepotfartyg Nr. 1
  6. Wikipedia, Battle of Port Arthur

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