According to the Wright brothers, the two inventors flew 105 times in 1904 (near a streetcar station called Simms, situated at the outskirts of Dayton, Ohio).
“Through the courtesy of our local newspaper reporters, we have been enabled to carry on our experiments this year within a short distance of our city without the knowledge of this fact becoming generally known. We have made some flights in every month since June, excepting July. ... Although 105 landings were made during this seasons’ experiments the machine has suffered serious damage only a few times and these in flights in which the landing was accidental and not premeditated. Flight after flight has been made without any damage to the machine whatever."
A new free book titled The Wrights and their 1904 impossible flights (105 in total) challenges these claims arguing that, in fact, the brother just tried to fool the newspapers (especially those of Dayton), Octave Chanute (a personality of the aeronautic world of the time), Georges Spratt (a fellow aviation enthusiast), Carl Diesentbach (the New York correspondent of the German journal "Illustrierte Aeronautische Mitteilungen") and both the US War Department and British War Office, by pretending they had performed 105 flights in 1904 and, in many instances, describing aerial trips that are physically impossible. For example, the flights of August 13, 1904, when the plane, Flyer II, got energy from the headwind, which accelerated the apparatus.
"The Press", the only newspaper that, on May 26, 1904, furnished a list of witnesses (friends of the Wright family and an unnamed reporter) who saw the alleged flight of the same day, later in the year, on December 17, 1904, acknowledged that nobody had ever seen the two inventors flying powered planes.
(Note: The work quotes in full over 200 letters and articles, most of them written or published in the interval 1903-1905.)
Besides this, two articles, one from May 1904 (see 1), and the other published in December 1951 (see 2), both of them quoting people who personally knew the Wright brothers (see the explanations below), say that the December 17, 1903, flights did not happen. This implies that, instead of 105 + 4 = 109 takeoffs and landings in total claimed for 1903 and 1904, the two Daytonians performed zero flights.
- The Wilmington Messenger, Wilmington, North Carolina, May 26, 1904, col. 1, p. 6.
Elizabeth City Economist: A gentleman visiting this city whose home is in Kitty Hawk, is responsible for the assertion that the Wright brothers, of airship fame, will return to Kitty Hawk in the near future and resume work on their aerial monster. According to this gentleman the airship has never been removed from Kitty Hawk and nearly all the interviews published in the papers of Norfolk have been erroneous in this respect. This gentleman has assisted the Wrights in all their work and has a general supervision of their property during their absence. He says that they have not completed the ship and that they will return some time within the next month and resume their work. A story is current that they will complete the ship and make the trip from here to St. Louis sometime this fall.
The text says that, according to a man that worked for the Wrights and took care of their things left behind at Kitty Hawk, the two inventors hadn't finished Flyer I as of May 26, 1904. In other words, this machine did not fly on December 17, 1903!
- This conclusion is also supported by the 1951 declaration of Alpheus W. Drinkwater, a man who knew the Wright brothers:
Wilbur and Orville Wright are credited with making their first powered flight in a heavier-than-air machine on Dec. 17, 1903. But Alpheus W. Drinkwater, 76 years old, who sent the telegraph message ushering in the air age, said the brothers only “glided” off Kill Devil Hill that day. Their ﬁrst real flight came on May 6, 1908, he said. (Source: New York Times, Dec. 17, 1951.)
As a note: The Wrights left Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December 1903 and only came back in April 1908.