The Wright Brothers
The Wright Brothers
Orville and Wilbur wright were the pair better known as the wright brothers. Orville was born on August 19, 1871. Wilbur was born on April 16, 1867. These were the two men who were given the credit of making the first successful aeroplane. They also made the first controlled, powered, heavier than air human flight. They did this on December 17, 1903. In the next 2 years Orville and Wilbur developed this machine into the first fixed wing aircraft. The wright brothers were not the first people to create a flying machine but they were the first people to incorporate controls which made this sort of flight possible and practical. The wright brothers created the 3-axis flight controls. These are even today what fixed wing aircraft controls are based on. They also studied aeronautics to make the design of wings and propellers far more effective and efficient. Their U.S. patent 821,393 claims the invention of a system of aerodynamic control that manipulates a flying machine's surfaces. They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles in particular influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle like a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice.
The Wright brothers were two of seven. Their father was Milton Wright. Wilbur was born in Indiana in 1867. Orville was born in Ohio in 1871. The brothers never married. The other Wright siblings were named Reuchlin (1861–1920), Lorin (1862–1939), Katharine (1874–1929), and twins Otis and Ida (born 1870, died in infancy). In elementary school, Orville was very mischievous and was once expelled. In 1878 their father, who travelled often as a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, brought home a toy "helicopter" for his two younger sons. The device was based on an invention of French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Pénaud. Made of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to twirl its rotor, it was about a foot long. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke, and then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the initial spark of their interest in flying.
Both brothers attended high school, but did not receive diplomas. The family's abrupt move in 1884 from Richmond, Indiana to Dayton prevented Wilbur from receiving his diploma after finishing four years of high school. In the winter of 1885–86 Wilbur was accidentally struck in the face by a hockey stick while playing an ice-skating game with friends, resulting in the loss of his front teeth. He had been vigorous and athletic until then, and although his injuries did not appear especially severe, he became withdrawn, and did not attend Yale as planned. Had he enrolled, his career might have taken a very different path than the extraordinary one he eventually followed with Orville. Instead, he spent the next few years largely housebound, caring for his mother who was terminally ill with tuberculosis and reading extensively in his father's library. He ably assisted his father during times of controversy within the Brethren Church but also expressed unease over his own lack of ambition. Orville dropped out of high school after his junior year to start a printing business in 1889, having designed and built his own printing press with Wilbur's help. Wilbur shook off the lingering depression caused by his accident and joined the print shop, serving as editor while Orville was publisher of the weekly newspaper the West Side News, followed for only a few months by the daily Evening Item. One of their clients for printing jobs was Orville's friend and classmate in high school, Paul Laurence Dunbar, who rose to international acclaim as a ground-breaking...
Bibliography: Anderson, John D. Inventing Flight: The Wright Brothers and Their Predecessors. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
Ash, Russell. The Wright Brothers. London: Wayland, 1974
Wright, Orville. How We Invented the Airplane. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 1988.
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