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General Info:

The Wright brothers, Orville Wright (August 19 1871, January 30, 1948) and Wilbur Wright (April 16,1867 May 30, 1912) are credited for making the first controlled, powered, heavier-than-air Flight on December 17, 1903 They had been experimenting for many years with gliders and other vehicles before their first powered flight. They are also known for making the first way to steer an airplane. Their first test flight took place in Kitty Hawk Heights, North Carolina though they designed the aircraft in Dayton, Ohio.

By the 1890s, the Wrights were interested in flight, particularly the gliders of Otto Lilienthal. They saw controlling a plane as one of the big problems of flight, as Lilienthal and others had been killed when they could not control their aircraft, and fixed it by building wings that could be moved up and down slightly. From 1900 to 1902, they built gliders in Dayton and tested them in Kitty Hawk. During this period, they also built a wind tunnel to test how well something will fly. In 1903, they built a powered airplane with a propeller and a light engine. The Wright Flyer airplane first flew successfully on December 17, 1903, which many think is the first time man ever flew. The two continued to make changes to their design, and had a very practical plane by 1905.
After the flight
The Wright Brothers kept their discovery largely secret for a couple of years until they showed it to the world in 1908. (They had filed a patent on the airplane Mar 23, 1903.) After that, they started a company to build airplanes and had a “patent war” with Glenn Curtiss over who could make money over the invention of the airplane. During the patent war, Wilbur died. Orville continued work to maintain his reputation as the first man to fly, but eventually sold the airplane company and became an “elder statesman” of aviation. He died in 1948.
Orville Wright and Wilbur Whright
Orville Wright and Wilbur Whright
The Wright Brothers when they were young
The Wright Brothers when they were young

external image 220px-HartBerg_with_WilburWright.jpg


Life in the Wright house was strict but loving. Both parents encouraged their children to enjoy school and learn as much as they could. A large library of books about all kinds of subjects helped the Wright children quench their thirst for knowledge from a very early age.
Orville and Wilbur's fascination with flight began with a present their father gave them a flying toy. It had a paper body and other parts made of cork and bamboo. rubber bands provided the power. The young boys (7 and 11) were thrilled to make the little toy fly across the room, so much so that they broke it. They remembered how it looked, though, and promised each other that someday they would fly in the air, just like the little toy.
The boys continued to be interested in mechanical things and flight. Orville sold kites at school to make money and Wilbur started reading all he could about how birds flew and machines worked.
Though the boys were good students, neither graduated from high school. (Not many did in those days, actually.) Wilbur was hit in the face with a baseball bat when he was a teenager and suffered from irregular heartbeats the rest of his life. He stayed at home for a while, during which time their mother developed tuberculosis (which, at that time, was a devastating disease with no known cure). Wilbur recovered himself and then stayed at home to care for his mother. Orville left high school on his own, to start a printing business. He and Wilbur designed a printing press that worked very well. The two later sold the printing business and opened a bicycle shop. They were both very good mechanics and could fix just about anything anyone asked them to fix. (They inherited this skill and desire from their mother, who was the family mechanic.)
It was in the bicycle shop that the idea of the airplane was born.
The Wrights had made kites, very large ones, in fact. By 1900, they were making ones so large that people could fly in them, sort of. These were called gliders, and Orville and Wilbur actually built one or two that were large enough for a person to ride in. They flew on nothing but air current, and the person could get a ride of about 10 seconds before the glider came down to the ground.