Orville and Wilbur Wright

Wilbur Wright
Born April 16, 1867 in Indiana
Died May 30, 1912

Orville Wright
Born August 19, 1871 in Ohio
Died January 30,1948

Orville and Wilbur Wright operated a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. After reading about German experiments with gliders, they built their own glider in 1900. In 1901, Orville Wright designed a wind tunnel which the brothers used to test wing shapes for flight. By 1902 they had built a two winged glider.

They also began experimenting with motors and propellers. The Wrights needed a lightweight engine and strong propeller to build an airplane. In 1903 the brothers had added a 12-horsepower engine and two propellers, but it wasnít until December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina that they really took to the air.


This invention the Wrights called, Flyer I, was really a motorized glider (it had no steering apparatus). However, it was the first ever sustained flight. It stayed aloft for 12 seconds and traveled 120 feet. Since both brothers would have liked to be the first person in flight, they flipped a coin to see who would make the first attempt. The flip gave Orville the first 12 second flight. However, the last and longest flight that day was piloted by Wilbur Wright. The Flyer I stayed aloft for 59 seconds traveling 852 feet before it crashed on a beach, crushing the rudders.

By the year 1905, Orville and Wilburís third Flyer could fly for half an hour and perform controlled turns and circles. On July 20, 1909 the Wrights set a new duration record for flight, staying aloft for 1 hour and 20 minutes. By October 26, 1909 the two brothers had trained Lieutenant Frank Humphreys to fly their machine, making him the armyís first solo pilot. Later in 1909 the Wrights announced the founding of their company, the Wright Company, which would sell airplanes to the public and the government.

Try the activity "Watching "Lift" In Action" to see how an airplane's wing helps it to fly.

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