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Orville and Wilbur Wright

Orville and Wilbur Wright Orville (1871–1948) and Wilbur Wright (1867–1912) were American inventors; they built and flew the world's first successful aeroplane. Brought up in Dayton, Ohio, the Wright brothers started their own newspaper in 1889. They then became bicycle manufacturers and repairers, while at the same time, having been inspired by the research of German aviator and "Glider King", Otto Lilienthal (1848–96), they developed an interest in aircraft and the possibilities of manned flight.



The first successful flight of the Wright Flyer, by the Wright brothers. Orville Wright was at the controls of the machine, lying...Read More >>The first successful flight of the Wright Flyer, by the Wright brothers. Orville Wright was at the controls of the machine, lying on the lower wing with his hips in the cradle that operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur ran alongside to balance the machine. As the photo was taken, he had just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing. The starting rail and the wing-rest are visible behind the machine.


A mallard in flight, demonstrating twisting of its wings

Flight

Observing birds in flight, the Wright Brothers noticed that, as they flew into the wind, the air flowing over the curved surface of their wings created lift. The birds could also change the shape of their wings to make turns in mid-flight. The brothers realised they could use this technique by "warping": twisting part of the wing of an aircraft.

The first fatal air crash occurred on 17th September 1908. Orville Wright, who was piloting the plane, survived, but his passenger, Thomas Selfridge, did not. He was the first man to die in an aeroplane.

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