In the world of aviation, the Wright Brothers are arguably the most iconic and impactful duo. Even if your knowledge of aviation is limited, you’ve probably heard of them. They were responsible for designing, building and flying the world’s first motorized airplane. The Wright Brothers were able to pave the way for modern aviation by pioneering many technologies and concepts that are still used today. So, who were the Wright Brothers exactly?
Overview of the Wright Brothers
The Wright Brothers were Orville and Wilbur Wright. They were among seven children born to Milton Wright. Wilbur was born in Indiana in 1867 and his brother, Orville, was born in Ohio in 1871. Throughout their childhood, both brothers shared a common interest in technology. They were specifically interested in aeronautics. This led Orville and Wilbur to begin designing their own airplane.
Early Designs By the Wright Brothers
One of the first designs pioneered by the Wright Brothers consisted of a bicycle with wings attached to the sides. Known as a biplane kite, it has a wingspan of just 5 feet. The Wright Brothers tested the biplane kite in 1899.
The biplane wasn’t a true airplane. Rather, it was a glider. It combined features a bicycle with an airplane. As the biplane propelled forward, it would glide before gracefully landing. Following the biplane, the Wright Brothers went on to design a series of full-sized gliders. These gliders didn’t use a bicycle, but they still had wings. The gliders were much larger than the Wright Brothers’ earlier biplane. They specifically designed three full-sized gliders, one in 1900, another in 1901 and the third in 1902. Each subsequent glider was larger and heavier than the previous glider.
The Wright Flyer
Of course, the Wright Brothers have become largely recognized for pioneering the Wright Flyer. The Wright Flyer was the world’s first motorized airplane. The Wright Brothers invented the Writer Flyer in the early 1900s, with the first flight occurring in 1903 over the skies of North Carolina.
To design the Wright Flyer, the Wright Brothers used their large gliders as the framework. They simply added a motor to their original gliders, which was used to turn the propeller on the front of the Wright Flyer. After a successful test flight, the Wright Brothers became recognized for their contributions to the aviation industry. The Wright Flyer is now on display at the Smithsonian.