The first flight of the Wright brothers took place in 1903. However, the first attempt on December 14th did not go as planned. The “aircraft” ended shoved into the sand and it had to be repaired. It was only on the second attempt three days later that the successful flight was implemented.
The First Successful Flight By Wright Brothers
The first successful flight with heavier-than-air aircraft happened on December 17th, 1903. The aircraft that could also be perceived as the first plane was called the Wright Flyer. They flew it four times that day near Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina. The flyer was designed on the experience gathered from testing gliders over the course of time between 1900-1902. The Wright Flyer often referred to as Flyer 1 and 1903 Flyer was based on the 1902 Glider. It is interesting to mention that when the first successful flight took place one of the most famous pioneering aviators and the author of the Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery was only three years old.
The 1902 Glider
The 1902 glider was the third in the series of gliders built by the Wright brothers for the purposes of testing. This was the first glider to incorporate the yaw control through the use of roar rudder and have directly led to the creation of the Wright Flyer. It was designed in winter 1901/02. The design was based on tests with miniature airfoils in the air tunnel in their home.
How The Flight Obsession Started?
The childhood of the Wright brothers is considered essential for achievements. Wilbur and Orville were two of seven kids born to Milton Wright who was a bishop in the church and Susan Catherine Koerner who was very skillful in carpentry and mechanic. She is credited for fostering scientific interests in boys. However, the mere idea of flight was inspired by their father. The seed that later turned into an ambition to defy gravity came to exist when their father brought home the helicopter toy made of paper, bamboo and cork. After some time the toy broke and they had to rebuild it in order to continue playing. However, it turned to be an impossible task so they decided to build a new one.
When we stated that the family is essential in their success it is because of the fact that their parents nurtured their curiosity in every way possible.
How Did Wright Brothers Live?
None of the Wright brothers got their high-school diploma. The abrupt movement of their family in 1874 prevented 17-year-old Wilbur from getting his high-school diploma. However, he received it posthumously on April 16, 1994, on his 127th birthday. In early 1886 Wilbur was struck in the face by a hockey stick and was left without front teeth. He was very athletic and mischievous until then. However, despite the fact that the injuries didn’t prove to be severe he became withdrawn. But it was also the time when he started reading about the great names of “aviation” who attempted to defy gravity and became more serious in his interests related to flight.
Orville dropped from high-school on after his junior year so he could start the printing business in 1889. This was due to the fact that with Wilbur’s help he designed and built his printing press. Wilbur joined the business and in March 1899 the brothers launched weekly newspapers. It was called the West Side News. In 1892 the brothers opened their repair shop for bicycles. Four years later, in 1896, they started manufacturing their own brand. The profits from their business they used to fund their growing interest in flight.
1896 was the year of the three important aeronautical events. In May, the unmanned steam-powered fixed-wing aircraft was successfully flown by Samuel Langley. Around the middle of the year, an engineer Octave Chanute organized the testing of gliders over the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. August brought the death of Lilienthal that ensued from his glider plunging into the ground. From all the events that took place, Lilienthal’s death had the biggest impact on the minds of the Wright brothers. They even later quotes that his death was a breaking point on which their interests seriously directed towards flying.
Lilienthal was without question the greatest of the precursors, and the world owes to him a great debt. Wilbur Wright
Wright brothers based their researches on the work of Sir George Cayley, Chanute, Lilienthal, Leonardo da Vinci, and Langley, they began their mechanical aeronautical experimentation that year.
The First Flight
When they made their first heavier-than-air aircraft the brothers tossed a coin to choose which one of them was going to fly first. Wilbur won. However, he pulled too hard on the controls and the vessel crashed. After two days of repairs, Orville’s turn came and on 17th December 1903, he was the one to fly. However, due to cold weather, there were only five locals to watch the first successful flight in the history of humanity. This made it very hard for the Wright brothers to persuade reporters of what happened. Five years later Wilbur made the first major public demonstration at Le Mans, France on August 8, 1908.
Also very interesting is the fact that they sought to avoid flying together. Their parents were very open-minded people but their father asked them to fly only one at a time so, if something happens, he doesn’t lose his bot sons at once. As a matter of fact, the Wright brothers only flew together once. It happened on May 25, 1910. On that day they took a six-minute flight piloted by Orville with Wilbur as his passenger.
The Revolution of Flight
In 1909 the Wright brothers teamed up with industrials to establish the Wright company. This move soon made them wealthy. They opened the flight school and made solid airplane designs and hardware.
In 1912 Wilbur died of typhoid fever. Orville lived until 1948. He died of a heart attack when he was 77. Before his death, in 1927, he met Charles Lindbergh and flew for the last time with Howard Hughes onboard the Lockheed Constellation in 1944. Orville witnessed several milestones in aviation like the creation of jet propulsion and even the first rocket. However, he also saw the destruction caused by bombers in World War II.
“We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the Earth. But we were wrong. We underestimated man’s capacity to hate and to corrupt good means for an evil end. No, I don’t have any regrets about my part in the invention of the airplane, though no one could deplore more than I the destruction it has caused.” Orville Wright
Wright Brothers In Space
Since humankind appeared on this earth men have always dreamed of flight. The myth of Icarus and Daedalus is one of the best witnesses of that fact. However, it was only after tens of thousands of years that human beings became capable of filling their dream. The Wright brothers were people credible for such a feat. It is why they eventually managed to reach space – in a way.
We all know that Neil Armstrong was the first human being to walk over the moon. Upon his first step, he said this is one small step for man but a big step for humankind. But what not so many people know is that on the travel to the moon, the Ohio astronaut carried remnants of fabric and the propeller of the Wright Flyer.