In 1896, a series of experimental biplane hang glider test flights on a Lake Michigan beach led to the success of the Wright brothers' first flight.

Museum of Flight says Octave Chanute tested three new glider designs at Miller Beach in Gary, Indiana at the windy southern tip of Lake Michigan in 1896.

The new biplane design improved upon the previously used unstable tri-plane design. The experiments were successful with flights of up to 359 feet and as long as 14 seconds.

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The Wright brothers began their experiments later that same year. The design used at Lake Michigan became the inspiration for their successful flight years later.

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No helmet? No problem.

Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The glider was piloted by Augustus Moore Herring. Air Zoo says Herring built gliders with Chanute and later built his own powered flight machine which he flew on Oct. 10, 1898 at Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. The flight was not controlled, but it was one of the earliest recorded powered flights.