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Horace B. Wild
Early Aeronaut - Dirigible Pilot - Aviator

Horace B. Wild was born in Chicago, Illinois, April 23, 1868, the son of an English balloonist. He attended local grade and high schools, then became a graduate electrical engineer.

Wild started in this profession and became a leading Chicago electrical engineering contractor. One of his early contracts was for wiring and special lighting of White City, Chicago's gala new amusement park, in which he was professionally interested.

Although a practicing electrical engineer, Wild developed an early interest in the air and took up ballooning in 1889, continuing the sport for some time, becoming a real expert. He airfloated over the Great Lakes area, and later the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, his longest trip lasting twenty-four hours and twenty-five minutes. During this early period Wild became a close friend of Octave Chanute in Chicago and shared his interest in the possibilities of flight.

Wild followed Chanute's early experiments closely and was present at the Chanute-Herring glider trials at Dunne Park, Indiana, during the summer of 1896. At that time he was making a foot-powered airship which was not a success.

He next turned his attention to the powered airship and reportedly completed his first one in 1903. His experiments continued and by 1905 he had developed a successful dirigible, called the "White City Eagle," and was making short flights in it from the White City grounds. At that time Wild had a shop in Chicago devoted to his aerial experiments.

On December 14, 1905, he had a harrowing experience on a trip over the city when a strong wind suddenly arose carrying him out over Lake Michigan. Frightened, he cut loose all his ballast and rose to a higher altitude where he luckily found a layer of air that carried him back over land.
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