Lake Michigan Flight Experiments in 1896 Inspired Wright Brothers
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.
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.
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.
No helmet? No problem.
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.