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William Alonzo Avery

Male 1870 - 1942  (72 years)  Submit Photo / DocumentSubmit Photo / Document


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  • Name William Alonzo Avery 
    Born 12 Feb 1870  Hudson, Columbia, New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Library book: The Groton Avery Clan 07089 
    Biographical Information Aviation Pioneer William first flew in 1896. Seven years before the Wright brothers made their famous first powered flight. He was an associate of Octave Chanute. As the technology advanced to the point gliders were becoming a reality Chanute was too old to act as a pilot. Avery built the gilders from Chanutes plans and acted as one of his test pilots. 
    Letter to Herring. 1901 page 1 of 2.
    Letter to Herring. 1901 page 1 of 2.
    William was not just the hired muscle and test pilot. He was part of the development team. The third member was Augustus herring. Eventually his ego got the best of him and he left the group. He did not however have the resources to make his plans reality. He eventually tried to patent a powered version of their glider but, it was rejected as it was an unproven theory.

    In the second point of this letter he wrote to Herring Chanute laments that neither he or herring have given Avery proper credit.

    Correspondence of Octave Chanute 1888-1910, Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences (U.S.). Aeronautical Archives. Pages 218 & 219.
    Letter to Herring. 1901 page 2 of 2.
    Letter to Herring. 1901 page 2 of 2.
    Correspondence of Octave Chanute 1888-1910, Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences (U.S.). Aeronautical Archives. Pages 218 & 219.
    Chicago Airship Sails - William Alonzo Avery
    Chicago Airship Sails - William Alonzo Avery
    In 1904 Avery headed to the World's Fair in Saint Louis, Missouri. A Frenchman was offering a prize of $10,000 for the longest flight.

    The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) 19 Sep 1904, Monday, Page 2
    Letter to Wright Dec 1904.
    Letter to Wright Dec 1904.
    In this letter Chanute wrote to one of the Wright brothers (first name not specified) he talks about how Avery injured his ankle in Saint Louis and was forced to withdraw from the competition.

    Correspondence of Octave Chanute, letters to Wilbur and Orville Wright 1900-1910, Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences (U.S.). Aeronautical Archives.
    1896 Flight Test.
    1896 Flight Test.
    William lived in Chicago. He was a contractor by trade so, he had the skills and shop space needed to build Chanute's gliders. it was an ideal location because a short trip to the southern end of lake Michigan provided the sand dunes, weather and isolation needed for testing. The first testing was done in September of 1896 on the lake shore in Indiana. Avery had the longest verified flight.
    The Gliding Machine of William Avery.
    The Gliding Machine of William Avery.
    The Gliding Machine of William Avery at the 1904 Words Fair, Saint Louis, Missouri.
    Glider Launcher Patent 1906.
    Glider Launcher Patent 1906.
    The launch system used at the worlds fair consisted of a car that ran on railroad like rails and an electric motor that pulled a tow rope.
    1904 Flight.
    1904 Flight.
    The performance at the fair was nothing short of outstanding. It seemed to prize was destine to be Avery's. Unfortunately before it was wrapped up the tow rope broke before it should have been released. This resulted in a hard landing in which Avery sprained his ankle bad enough to end his participation in the competition. In a few short years the success of the Wright brothers accelerated aviation development to the point it was no longer being done by amateurs out of their home shops.

    There are many places where reproductions of this glider can be seen. The original glider was disassembled and shipped to France where it still is at the Musee de L'Air et de L'Espace at Paris, France.
    Chanute Letters
    Chanute Letters (9)
    More letters regarding William A. Avery's appearance at the St. Louis 1904 World's Fair.
    Census 1875  New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    1875 NY Avery.
    1875 NY Avery.
    Hudson, Columbia, New York. Family number 64.
    Census 1880 
    1880 Avery 3.
    1880 Avery 3.
    1880 US census, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, enumeration district 190, Family Number 6885836, Avery.
    Died 3 Mar 1942  Chicago, Cook, Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Captain William Alonzo Avery Obituary
    Captain William Alonzo Avery Obituary
    Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) 04 Mar 1942, Wednesday, Page 25
    Buried 5 Mar 1942  Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Siblings 7 siblings 
    Headstones Submit Headstone Photo Submit Headstone Photo 
    Person ID I39549  Nagel
    Last Modified 16 Jun 2019 

    Father William Alonzo Avery,   b. 4 Oct 1828, Hudson, Columbia, New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Jan 1899, Chicago, Cook, Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 70 years) 
    Relationship Birth 
    Mother Sarah Whitfield Powell,   b. 3 May 1833, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Dec 1903, Chicago, Cook, Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 70 years) 
    Relationship Birth 
    Married 27 Oct 1858 
    Family ID F12350  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Edith Brompton,   b. 1872, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1959, iIllinois Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 87 years) 
    Children 
     1. Dorothy Brompton Avery,   b. 8 May 1900, Chicago, Cook, Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Aug 1947  (Age 47 years)
    Last Modified 16 Jun 2019 
    Family ID F13011  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart