The Wright Brothers Flight | Air Transport Begins!
The Wright brothers came from a large family. Wilber was the eldest of the two brothers and the 3rd son of Milton and Susan. He was born in 1867 while his younger brother Orville was born in 1871. Wilbur and Orville worked well together as brothers, they both were business minded and loved trying and experimenting with new things and new ideas. The brothers even opened up a bicycle shop where they repaired and sold bikes. The outlook for a bicycle business looked favorable and promising to the brothers. In 1896, they began manufacturing their own brand of bicycles established as “The Wright Cycle Company.” However, Wilbur and Orville had their minds set on something greater and bigger; they had their eyes set on the sky. It is this dream that they are well known for, their contribution to the world of aviation and the history of the airplane.
There had been quite a few attempts of air travel before the wright brothers flight. People such as George Cayley, Felix Du Temple and Otto Lilienthal took to the skies on made man gliders during the 1800′s. However, it was the wright brothers plane in 1903 that had the greatest success in achieving a sustained controlled powered flight. This occurred on December 17, 1903. What made the Wrights’ flight attempt different from those who had flown before them is the simple fact that with the wright brothers plane and the first wright brothers flight they had incorporated skills and knowledge of engineering, scientific principles, and experiments in developing propellers that would give and sustain higher lifts. In other words, the history of the airplane took hold because of their study of bicycle balance and their experiments with wind tunnel air movement. Their experimenting led to the brothers creating a lift balance and a drift balance as well as a new wing design. The new shape of the wings was mastered by incorporating aerodynamic properties into their design.
Before the Wright brother’s big success, they had built seven aircrafts until they had a glider that they were pleased with and that they felt confident about. Before that famous day, their flying experiments ended in crashes, which led to more testing and more experiments. They even designed a glider that had a 22 foot wingspan and skids for landing, which they tested in North Carolina at Kill Devil Hills in 1901.
In the history of the airplane, it was Orville Wright who took the first sustained flight on December 17, 1903. This flight lasted for 12 seconds and the aircraft was named The Flyer. Wilber also took a five minute sustained flight on November 9, 1904 at the helm of The Flyer II. Unlike the pilots in the 1800′s whose experiments didn’t leave a lasting impact on the world of aviation or the history of the airplane; the wright brothers flight proved to be a success and led to the first armed airplane, which was equipped with a machine gun. With the brothers’ success, they even taught military officers how to fly. The Wright brothers also created and flew the Vin Fiz, noted to be the first aircraft to fly over the United States on a journey from New York to Pasadena, California. The pilot on this one-man flight was Calbraith Perry Rodgers who took flying lessons from Orville Wright.
The impact of the Wright brothers flight has led to the celebration of their accomplishment and contributions to aviation. Today, we honor these brothers on December 17th in the United States. Although it is not a federal holiday, the observance is recognized, paying tribute to the Wright brothers flight on December 1903 in North Carolina. If it weren’t for Orville and Wilbur Wright, aviation might not be what it is today. Their experiments and invention paved the way for both civilian and military air transport, teaching us how to fly and allowing us to take to the skies when we want. After all, traveling by airplane is much faster than traveling by horse, car and train, or on foot. Can you imagine living in a world without aviation? Wilbur and Orville Wright truly paved the way for the 21st century’s mode of transportation.
To learn more about the Wright brothers, please see the following links.
- Ohio History: Wilber Wright
- Wright Brother and Dayton Ohio
- Making the First Flight
- Experiment that Led to First Flight
- Timeline of the Flying Machine
- Aviator: Orville Wright
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Check out articles written by Jeanne Longhorne.