31 Wright Brothers Airplane Facts: American Aviation Pioneers | Kidadl


31 Wright Brothers Airplane Facts: American Aviation Pioneers

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Did you know that Neil Armstrong carried pieces of wood and fabric from the very first aircraft, the 1903 Wright Flyer, with him all the way to the moon?

This is true! The famous American astronaut, Neil Armstrong, on his 1969 trip to the moon carried pieces of the 1903 Flyer as a token of strength and respect for the pioneers of aviation.

The Wright brothers, regarded as the pioneers of aviation, were the first people to design and fly the first airplane. These two brothers, Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright, were born in 1867 and 1871, respectively, in Dayton, USA. Neither of them received any formal education at college, they gained aeronautical skills and knowledge by themselves. Their father, Milton Wright, was a church bishop at United Brethren; he played a huge role in piquing their interest in aviation. Both the brothers claimed that their fascination for aeronautics developed after their father once gave them a gift, a toy airplane made of paper, bamboo, and a rubber band!

Early Flight: Research And Test Project

The extraordinary technical skills of the Wright brothers were evident when Wilbur started their own bicycle repair shop and print shop where he and Orville used to design, build, and sell outstanding quality presses to other printers, as well as modern bikes with coaster brakes. Their business flourished with a strong and positive local reputation. Let's see how the Wright brothers set out and progressed on their endeavor to pioneer the first flight.

Unlike their younger sister Katherine, Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright did not attend college and had no high school diplomas. Wilbur and Orville had a huge fascination with flight and between 1899-1905 they used the money they got from the print and bicycle sales to fund their experiments in aeronautics. They made use of their technical skills to construct flying machines, drawing inspiration from the German glider pioneer Otto Lilienthal, and they later collaborated with Octave Chanute, a civil engineer who was equally invested in aviation.

Gliders: No Engine Flight

As Wilbur and Orville absorbed all the resources available on aeronautics, they realized that wings, a propulsion system, and control were the three most important requirements to build a modern airplane. Their experiments involved developing controlled airplane flight since the wings and light-weighted engines for airplanes had already entered the market by that time. Thus began their exhaustive work to make the operator completely in charge of controlling an airplane.

With expert advice and help from Octave Chanute, and Lilienthal's data, they developed the wing-warping system. The two brothers conducted their experiments of a small biplane kite at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Kitty Hawk in North Carolina was selected to conduct the experiments as it had the perfect landscape and air pressure for flight. The first flight of the Wright Flyer or glider was tested in 1900 at Kitty Hawk but it did not lift in the air as high as expected, and the problem of control was yet to be resolved. However, they were far ahead of the other experimenters in the field. More than 700 flights were made in the gliders by the Wright brothers.

Facts about the Wright brothers are all about early inventions of aviation.

Adding Power: Combustion Engine

After their first attempt failed, Orville and Wilbur made some improvements that would help to achieve sustained flight. A small wing tunnel was constructed along with a complete control system with a movable rudder, resolving the issue of controlled flight. Let's learn more about how the Wright brothers progressed with their new design.

With the help of their shop worker, Charles Taylor, a four-cylinder internal-combustion engine was designed and built, leading to the invention of the first powered aircraft. They spent several weeks redesigning and testing the powered airplane at the Kill Devil Hills in 1903. In a coin toss that Wilbur won, it was decided that he would make the first attempt to fly the aircraft. The first attempt on December 14, 1903, by Wilbur Wright was unsuccessful, and the forward section of the aircraft was severely damaged. Later, on December 17, 1903, both the Wright Brothers tried flying the newly designed aircraft, and by the fourth flight, Wilbur flew the aircraft successfully for 59 seconds. The successful first flight of a heavier-than-air machine left the local citizens in awe. Many years after their successful first flight, on May 25, 1910, Orville Wright piloted a six-minute flight.

First Powered Flight

Orville and Wilbur did not stop at their first successful endeavor but went on to make more improvements in their design in the next two years. They built and flew two more airplanes during these two years from a place called Huffman Prairie in Dayton. At this point in time, the Wright Flyer could stay afloat for nearly 39 minutes. This drew immense attention from the media which left the brothers quite worried that their design might be copied by other experimenting aviators.

In order to save their invention from being plagiarized, Wilbur and Orville stayed on the ground and looked for patents that would protect their invention and negotiate selling contracts. They signed the first contract with the US Army in February 1908: they had to deliver an aircraft that could fly for an hour with two people on board. The second contract was signed between the brothers and some French investors who were interested in manufacturing and selling Wright machines. Many doubted that the self-taught brothers would be successful in their endeavor. This is because many European and American flying machine experimenters were still struggling to master the wind. The world's first test flight facility, called Wright Patterson Air Force Base, was established by the two brothers in Dayton, Ohio.

Routine Usage And Safety

As we know, the Wright brothers had excelled at developing the wing-warping system which was an invaluable invention in the field of aeronautics. With this invention, they had become the pioneers of early flight and paved the way for future inventions in this field.

Many seminars and discussions have been held to observe and study the inventions of the brothers and further the knowledge of aeronautics and flying machines. In one such seminar, Captain Ron Rogers, an A320 pilot, revealed that the angle-of-attack indicator is the most important piece of information required to build and achieve the perfect flight. The angle-of-attack is placed in the cockpit of airplanes that aids the aircraft in generating proper lift and helps the wings cut through the wind and fly further.

Written By
Srija Chanda

<p>An aspiring media professional, Srija is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Mass Communication at St. Xavier's University, Kolkata, after completing her degree in journalism. With experience in PR and social media, she has also honed her leadership skills through her participation in a youth parliament. Srija's interests include devouring books, watching movies, and exploring new places through travel.</p>

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