Actually, they could not do that, for reasons mostly beyond the scope of the discussion. It took days or weeks to prepare for a flight, and they had to have a designated field with a hanger. Eventually the army agreed to a demonstration at Fort Myer. It was a poor choice. There was not enough space. But anyway, Orville finally flew there on September 3, 1908. Wilbur had already flown in France on August 8, causing a big splash. These public tests did, finally, convince the world that the claims were true.
The patent office is not needed to prove reality. On the other hand you have to prove reality to get a patent. That is not normally needed but this invention appears to violate the known laws of physics.
A patent is needed if you are going to make money. Without a patent, when the public realizes the invention is real, every industrial corporation on earth will take it from you. No doubt many of them will try to take it anyway, but if you have a patent you can hire top-notch lawyers and sue them.
That is not a bit true as far as I know. It is not simple. I do not know anyone who can make a reliable cold fusion device. No one knows how to control it or scale it up.
The Wright brothers airplane was rather simple to produce. It had no market, other than wealthy young men willing to risk their lives. It killed most of the early pilots.
If anyone could do that we would soon be able to convince the patent office and every industrial corporation on earth that the invention is real. If anyone could produce 5 or 10 gadgets that produce 10 W reliably, on demand, with only a few watts input, I could use that to convince everyone in the world that the effect is real. No one I know is capable of doing anything like that. Some people claim they can do it but they are keeping their devices secret. I doubt they can actually do it.
We can do that. Low kilowatts now, higher soon. But we need money to do so. Making things that are safe and reliable costs money. Not megabucks, but more than I have. My dreams are filled with shoving out reactors off a C-130 ramp over northern Africa. And other places. No more dung burning.