Octave Chanute

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Octave A. Chanute.jpg
Chanute's biplane glider in action on the Indiana dunes
Patent GB-1898-13372 Diagram Sheet 1
Patent GB-1898-13372 Diagram Sheet 2

Octave Chanute (b. Octave Chanut, in Paris, 1832 and deceased in Chicago in 1920) was one of the most important aeronautical inventors and networkers before the invention of the airplane.[1][2]

(French Wikipedia treats him as an "American inventor of French origin", incidentally. There may be patents registered with the French government, though these may be in the area of our Late-Nineteenth-Century partial data gap.)

Chanute got interested in aeronautics on a long vacation (from work modeling a potential New York City rapid transit system) to Europe in 1875. However, he did not start working in the area until 1885.[3]

With Albert Francis Zahm, Chanute was instrumental in organizing the Aeronautical Navigation Conference at 1893 World's Fair.

In 1896 he conducted glider experiments of his own in Indiana, with an eye to stability; during these he converted a triplane into a biplane, later known as the "Chanute type".[4]

Chanute's many accomplishments as a networker include presenting the Wright Brothers' gliders in France in 1903, and describing them in print, thereby rekindling European interest in airplanes. Chanute's information apparently instigated Ernest Archdeacon to offer the 3000-franc Archdeacon prize for heavier-than-air flight.[5][6] Chanute's disclosure of Wright technology later became an issue in the German litigation of Wright patent rights.[7]

(See Louis-Pierre Mouillard and Patent US-1897-582757 for other points legality and appropriation.)


  1. Octave Chanute on English Wikipedia Octave Chanute on French Wikipedia
  2. Simine Short. 2014. Locomotive to Aeromotive: Octave Chanute and the Transportation Revolution
  3. Crouch, 1981, pp. 26–27.
  4. Powell A. Moore, "Octave Chanute's Experiments with Gliders in the Indiana Dunes, 1896", Indiana Magazine of History 54(4), December 1958.
  5. Gibbs-Smith, Aviation, 1970]], p. 107. "In March 1903 Octave Chanute arrived on a visit to Europe, and on April 2nd gave an illustrated talk in Paris at a 'diner-conférence' of the Aéro-Club de France, describing in detail his own and the Wrights' gliders; but this time it was the sophisticated No. 3 Wright glider in its final form that received most attention, along with the information—but not raison d'être—of the simultaneous use of wing warping and rudder. This pivotal lecture was followed by illustrated published reports of it, and fuller articles written by Chanute and others, including (in August) scale drawings of the Wright machine. It was these new revelations of the Wrights' successful gliding—Chanute's own gliders were largely disregarded—and the excellent accompanying photographs and drawings of the Wrights' No. 3 machine, which precipitated the chief revival of aviation in Europe. This revival had as its mainspring and leader the rich lawyer-sportsman, Ernest Archdeacon, who now (1903) created an Aviation Committee in the Aéro-Club de France to promote heavier-than-air flying; the avowed intent was to beat the Wrights in the race to achieve the powered aeroplane."
  6. Zahm, 1911, Aerial Navigation, p. 256.
  7. See Katharine Wright to Alexander Ogilvie 27-Feb-1913.

Patents whose inventor or applicant is Octave Chanute

Publications by or about Octave Chanute

Letters sent by Octave Chanute

Letters received by Octave Chanute

Names Octave Chanute
Birth date 1832
Death date 1920
Countries US, GB
Locations 413 East Huron Street, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Occupations engineer
Tech areas Glider, Frame, Navigation, Stability, Piloting, Aeroplane, Biplane, Triplane, Propeller, Rudder, Construction, Design, Wings, Kite, Takeoff
Wikidata id Q1351565