Wilbur and Orville Wright
were two American brothers who were born in the mid 19th century.
They were the first people to fly a powered aircraft. The brothers
grew up in Ohio and ran several businesses before opening a shop
where they sold, mended, and built bicycles.
In August 1896 they read
about the death of Otto Lilienthal in a flying accident. This reawakened
the brothers' childhood interest in flight. They set about reading
books about bird flight and making plans to build aircraft. They
were the first people to build kites controlled by wing warping.
Wing warping bends the wing and changes the way the air flows over
it. This enables the aircraft to change direction and height.
By 1902 the Wright brothers
had built a glider which flew up to a height of 183m. After that,
they decided it was the right time to build their aeroplane. To
give them open the space they needed the brothers moved to Kitty
Hawk, a fishing village with miles of empty sand dunes. It is here
that the brothers could carry out their work. They made a propeller
and built their own engine which they tested in a small wind tunnel.
Orville Wright, watched
by Wilbur Wright, pilots
the Flyer in its first flight on 17th December, 1903
On 17th December 1903
the Wright brothers were ready to test their first aeroplane, Flyer1.
The aeroplane had two propellers which turned in opposite directions
to keep the aircraft stable. Wilbur flew the plane to a height of
260m. The plane was later damaged by strong winds and never flew
Orville and Wilbur Wright
photographed their early flights. However, some of their rivals
still refused to believe that they had made the first powered flight
ever. The brothers continued to build aeroplanes. In October 1905,
Flyer 3 stayed in the air for 38 minutes. Three years later the
Wright Model A, a more powerful two seater aeroplane reached a speed
of 44 mph. Wilbur took the machine to France and set a new record
of over 2 hours in the air at an altitude of 110m.
Wilbur died in 1912 but
Orville lived long enough to see the first jet aeroplanes. He died
Jakins (February, 2004)