To make the airplane, they had to study wind patterns and they also built kites. The kites were an unbelievable sight to see. People all around town would come and be amazed. To keep the kites in air as long as possible the Wright Brothers tried to control them from the ground. They built a kite with warped wing design. The kite had a 5-foot wing span and lines hung down from the tip of each wing and it worked perfectly!
In 1900, the Wright Brothers built their very first glider that used wing warping. One person could fly this glider. The pilot was supposed to lie face down while holding two ropes that controlled the wings. They test flew it at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where there was good steady wind that blew from the Atlantis Ocean. It was also good because it had a 100-foot sand dune. The brothers took turns in flying the glider. But the rides only lasted a short time and the longest was only 10 seconds.
By 1901, the brothers improved their glider and gave another try in Kitty Hawk. This time, the improved glider broke the world record by reaching 389 feet, but they were still not satisfied and believed they could make the glider go higher and fly longer.
In December 17, 1903 the brothers tested their engine powered machine that they called Flyer 1. At 10:30 a.m. the brothers shook hands as the plane rumbled to life, history was about to be made. Orville went on Flyer 1 laying face down alongside the engine on the lower wing. Orville gave the signal to Wilber that he was ready. Suddenly the plane rolled forward faster and faster, then finally rose of the ground; Orville was the first person to fly an airplane.
The flight carried Orville only 120-feet and the brothers flew their aircraft three or more times that day. Wilber flew the last flight and it took him 852-feet and lasted 59 seconds. After that they went back to Dayton, Ohio and continued building and testing more airplanes. In 1908 they perfected an amazing airplane. It could fly 25 miles and stay in the air for 30 minutes; it had a speed of 40 miles per hour. The pilot would have so much control that it could fly in circles and do figures of eight.
The Wright Brothers didn’t receive much attention until a newspaper reporter witnessed a 1,000-foot flight in 1908 and that same year Wilber had traveled to France and flew their plane before European royalty. In 1909, the Wright Brothers formed a Wright Co. and opened a factory to manufacture aircraft. Unfortunately Wilber Wright did not live long enough to see the improvements of the plane; he died in 1912 from the typhoid fever. Orville lived to see how the airplane changed the world and our lives. He also lived to see the jet airplane, which replaced his original propeller, and how it was used for military and commercial proposes.
Source: Joseph, Paul. The Wright Brothers
Image source: aviationuniversity.com