The Wright Brothers

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Today flying is natural. Maybe you fly to some nice place in the world or you may take a trip for the company. There are many different planes to fly with. But how was it for 100 years ago? Then there was only traffic on land. Leonardo da Vinci, artist and inventor, was one the first to draw airplane. In the late 1700 th century two brothers were born, that changed the history. It is these brothers I’m going to tell you about.

The Wright Brothers

Wilbur was the elder brother, he was born in 1867, and he was the third born child of seven children. His younger brother Orville was born in 1871, and he was the sixth of the children. Their birth town was Dayton, USA. Their mother’s name was Katherine Wright. Their father’s name was Milton Wright. He was bishop in United Brethren Church and he travelled a lot. He often did buy many presents for the children. One day their father brought home a helicopter in plastic for the children to play with. The helicopter had wings of rubber and kept it spinning in the air, below the ceiling. Maybe it was that toy that made the boys interested in flying.
In the year of 1880 Wilbur and Orville started in a printing office area as editors of West Side News, a newspaper for the west of Dayton. One year later the brothers started an evening paper, which came out once a week and that became a big success. After some months they started working as journalists in an established newspaper. To make more money, Wilbur and Orville caught on to the trend of the biking rush that was in USA 1884. They started to repair and sell bikes. From the beginning it was only a small company but it grew and they now worked full time with the bikes. In the year of 1896 they had constructed their own bike model. Wright Bike Company gave good money, but the brothers were not interested in that. Instead they thought of how they could put wings on the wheels.

One day they read a magazine about the German gliding plane pilot Lilienhals that had died during on flight. The brothers discussed why a man could not have control up in the air, and that made them study a book about birds and their flying technique and got very interested in that technique.

Wilbur and Orville had a bike garage and that’s where they built their first gliding plane. The first flood plane components were two boards on top of each other. They stuck up with the high helm, which had its place at the front. The side helm they placed at the back of the plane. They constructed the wings so that the back of the parts could go up and down. The aileron was now discovered. The brothers took the plane to a low hill at the airport at the coast town Kitty Hawk where they did their experiment. The first summers’ flying became a disappointment. They only made it in the air for a few seconds. They built a new airplane and tried again the next summer. Wilbur and Orville made several experiments in the garage. They made different airplane models. They did now build a new gliding plane. In the summer of 1902 they were at Kitty Hawk again. Now their gliding plane was working. They flew in all sorts of weather and did over 1000 trips in the air, some as high up as up to 180 metres. 1903 the brothers were going to fly an engine driven plane that they had constructed and built. The plane had two blades but no wheels. The plane didn’t really have any flying frame. An engine of 25 horsepowers drew the two propellers that rotated in opposite directions. The brothers flipped a coin about who was going to be the first pilot. Wilbur won and flew, but the plane crashed and broke into many parts. Three days later the plane was ready again. Now it was Orville’s turn to fly. Only five persons were there to look at the brothers’ flight excursion. The wind was very strong and Wilbur ran next to the plane and held his hand on the wing. The plane speeded up, left the airstrip and flew around about one metre above the ground for 12 seconds before in landed again. The first flying excursion was done. The same day three other flying trips were done. The one of 59 seconds was the longest, and it flew 260 metres.

In the spring of 1904 the brothers continued their experiments on a plain outside of Dayton. Their new machine was bigger and stronger than the first one. They also did some improvements on the engine and when the new plane was ready the brothers invited some reporters to witness the air excursion. But the wind was too weak for the plane to take off. They tried again the next day, but then the plane only flew 18 metres. The reporters lost interest.
The interest in flying was bigger in Europe than in America. So Wilbur went to France and he brought a newly built plane with him from America. A Le Mans south of France, he made in silence his air tours. One day he amused the world with an air excursion for 1 hour, 31 minutes and 25 seconds. At that time the flying speed was 66,5 km/h. Wilbur soon got one dangerous competitor, Henri Farman. Henri had a world record in highflying, 25 metres. The last day of 1908 Wilbur made a flight of 2 hours, 20 minutes and 23 seconds and the speed was 125 km/h. He won a price of 20.000 franc for the longest flight of the year and at the same time he broke Henri Farman’s record of 110 metres. Wilbur stayed in France to educate future pilots for the Wright machine type.

Orville also came to Europe and the brothers took part in flight contests in Berlin. Orville fixed the high record even better and flew the plane up to 400 metres in the air. Both Wilbur and Orville returned to America to work and educate in the fling technique. They also built a factory for building aircrafts and delivering them to the American army.
Wilbur soon retired and spent his time for studies and experiments in the flying area.
Wilbur died in an airplane crash 1912 only 45 years old.
The Wright Aeroplane Company prospered under Orville’s management. The company built planes and engines for export all over the world.
It was with an engine from their factory that Charles Lindberg made his famous Atlantic flight.
Orville passed away 1948, 77 years old.


I have done a work about the two “flying” brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. They were two unusual brothers with a developed technical thinking and that’s why they could start to draw airplanes when they were so young. They grew up in Dayton, in a big family. They started early to draw airplanes, bikes etc. To earn some money they started to work as journalists and then they opened their own Bike Shop. After that they started to build their first glider that they then flew. Some yea...

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Inactive member [2003-02-19]   The Wright Brothers
Mimers Brunn [Online]. [2021-01-18]

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