Airplanes in the Twentieth Century
To the Wright Brothers alone belong the credit, and the honor, for giving the world the
aero technology which changed the course of history as no other. They have given mankind a
great and vital commercial air transportation system, the aerospace industry, and air power for
defense. The dedication in adversity serves as an inspiration to all mankind. (These We Honor, 2).
The invention of the airplane was inspired by a German pioneer Litienthal. Litienthal
flew gliders and when Wilbur heard of this he was inspired to make the airplane (These We
Honor, 2). From owning a bicycle shop with his brother, he and his brother determined to
make the first man-flying machine. (These We Honor, 2). In 1896, the newspapers were filled
with accounts of flying machines. Wilbur and Orville noticed that all these primitive aircraft lacked
suitable controls. They began to wonder how a pilot might balance an aircraft in the air, just as a
cyclist balances his bicycle on the road.
In 1899, Wilbur devised a simple system that twisted or
"warped" the wings of a biplane, causing it to roll right or left. They tested this system in a kite,
then a series of gliders. They made their first test flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on the
shores of the Atlantic where the strong winds helped to launch the gliders and the soft sands
helped to cushion the fall when they crashed. Their first two gliders, flown in 1900 and 1901,
failed to perform as the Wrights had hoped. The gliders did not provide enough lift nor were they
fully controllable. So during the winter of 1901-1902 Wilbur and Orville built a wind tunnel and
conducted experiments to determine the best wing shape for an airplane. This enabled them to...