Octave Chanute

Octave Chanute (February 18, 1832, Paris – November 23, 1910, Chicago, Illinois) was born in France but considered himself an American. He was a railway engineer and aviation pioneer. He provided many budding enthusiasts, including the Wright Brothers with help and advice, and helped to publicize their flying experiments. At his death he was hailed as the father of aviation and the heavier-than-air flying machine.Chanute also established a procedure for pressure-treating wooden railroad ties with an antiseptic that increased the wood’s lifespan in the tracks. Establishing the first commercial plants, he convinced railroad men that it was commercially feasible to make money by spending money on treating ties to conserve natural resources. As a way to track the age and longevity of railroad ties and other wooden structures, he also introduced the railroad date nail in the United States.Chanute retired from the Erie Railway in 1883 to become an engineering consultant.Chanute died on November 23, 1910, in Chicago, Illinois. He is buried in the James Family plot at Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, Illinois, with his wife, the former Annie Riddell James (June 3, 1834 - April 3, 1902), and daughter, Alice Chanute Boyd (December 24, 1859 - October 7, 1920).The town of Chanute, Kansas, is named after Chanute, as is the former Chanute Air Force Base near Rantoul, Illinois, which was decommissioned in 1993. The former base, now turned to peacetime endeavors, includes the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum, detailing the history of aviation and of Chanute Air Force base.In 1902, the Western Society of Engineers began to present the Octave Chanute Award for papers of merit on engineering innovations. From 1939 to 2005, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics presented the Chanute Flight Award for an outstanding contribution made by a pilot or test personnel to the advancement of the art, science, and technology of aeronautics.In 1996, the National Soaring Museum honored the 100th anniversary of the glider flying experiments in the sand dunes along Lake Michigan as National Landmark of Soaring No. 8.Chanute is one of the "unsuccessful" aviation pioneers mentioned in the Marc Blitzstein composition "The Airborne Symphony."In 2003, as part of its commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight, Aviation Week & Space Technology named Chanute 38th on its list of the top 100 "most important, most interesting, and most influential people" in the first century of aerospace.Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, in Daytona Beach, Florida, has an off-campus residence hall, the Chanute Complex. for upper-class students.
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