Wilbur & Orville Wright 

 


Wilbur Wright watches as his younger brother Orville pilots the world's first airplane.

"The first flight lasted only twelve seconds, a flight very modest compared with that of birds, but it was, nevertheless, the first in the history of the world in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in free flight, had sailed forward on a level course without reduction of speed, and had finally landed without being wrecked."

— Wilbur and Orville Wright on making the world's first manned and powered flight, covering just 120 feet, on Dec. 17th, 1903.

Two brothers from middle America

On a cold and windy morning in 1903, two brothers with a shared passion for technological innovation literally flew out of obscurity to international attention. At 10:35 a.m. on December 17th, they flew the world's first powered airplane.

 

Orville (left) and Wilbur Wright. Their father once told a reporter that they were "as inseparable as twins". (Photo courtesy the Franklin Institute)

The flight lasted a scant 12 seconds and covered just 120 feet above the sandy beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. But, that brief moment captured the extraordinary genius of two rather ordinary men. Wilbur and his younger brother Orville repaired and manufactured bicycles in Dayton, Ohio. The sons of a church bishop, they were both bachelors who never finished high school. But, they took a common childhood fascination for flight - sparked by a toy "hélicoptère" driven by rubber bands brought home by their father - and turned it into a time-consuming hobby. Soon, that hobby became an obsessive desire to achieve human flight.

"For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life,"

wrote Wilbur Wright in a letter in 1900 to Octave Chanute, a civil engineer who compiled and published information on early aviation experiments.

The more Wilbur read about flight, the more convinced he became that human flight was possible. Together with his brother Orville, a mechanical wizard, they became self-taught engineers.

"We had taken up aeronautics merely as a sport. We reluctantly entered upon the scientific side of it. But we soon found the work so fascinating that we were drawn into it deeper and deeper."

 

Wilbur Wright was the more outgoing brother. A voracious reader and gifted public speaker, he once wanted to become a teacher.
Their experiments eventually led to the world's first flying machine, but the accomplishment didn't happen in a vacuum. The early 1900s was a ripe time for such an invention. Aerodynamics, structural engineering, engine design and fuel technology had all reached a stage of development where they could all be brought together to produce a practical flying machine.

Although neither graduated from high school, Wilbur had been an outstanding student. (A family move prevented Wilbur from receiving his diploma, and a skating accident ruined his plans to go to Yale). Orville, on the other hand, caused much mischief in school and quit before his last year to start a printing shop. Both brothers however, shared a fascination for technological problem solving, which was encouraged by their father who filled the house with two extensive libraries.

"We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to investigate whatever aroused curiosity."

 

Orville Wright was full of mischievous pranks around his family, but outside that tightly-knit circle, he was almost pathologically shy.
They also possessed a mechanical aptitude, developed with the help of their mother, who, having spent much of her childhood in her father's carriage shop, had learned to design and build simple household appliances and toys for the Wright home. While Orville loved to concentrate on the detailed mechanics of a given problem, Wilbur looked at the big picture, the systems involved in the whole project. Glimpses of the brothers' successful collaboration - often characterized by heated debate - can be seen in the printing press they made out of recycled buggy parts and items from local junkyards for their first business venture together, and later in the creation of two lines of bicycles for their bike shop. Orville also invented a self-oiling wheel hub.

But it wasn't until the death of a famous German engineer in 1896 that the brothers embarked on a path to their biggest achievement.

 

 

 

Visit  --  http://www.discovery.ca/Mini/Flightdeck/Aviators/wright.cfm 

for this and more on the subject of aviators

 

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Orville (left) and Wilbur Wright. Their father once told a reporter that they were "as inseparable as twins". (Photo courtesy the Franklin Institute)

 

Wilbur Wright was the more outgoing brother. A voracious reader and gifted public speaker, he once wanted to become a teacher.

Orville Wright was full of mischievious pranks around his family, but outside that tightly-knit circle, he was almost pathologically shy.