The Wright Way to Fly The Wright Brothers influenced our society by introducing us to powered flight, affecting our American culture and way of life that will continue to advance for years to come. An unknown fact is that the Wright's were not the first to achieve powered flight. In 1857 Frenchman Felix du Temple designed the first plane to achieve powered flight, but his was unable to carry people (Parker 31). Many people like du Temple strived for the ability to fly, but it was just a dream until two boys from a small Ohio town made it a reality.
Wilbur Wright was born on August 19th 1867, and his brother Orville on the same day four years later. As children they were constantly playing with kites and other toys of that nature. As they matured into the working world, their love for the air lay dormant. As young men they worked in their fathers printing business, this being the dawn of their inventive skills.
The Brothers then attempted to write their own paper, which failed after a few short months. Then with help from their friend Ed Sines, they began a bicycle repair shop. Their inventive skills grew during this time, along with their rediscovered love for the air. As their business grew they were able to fund their flying machines (Wescott and Jensen 32).
The Brothers truly became interested in gliding in the 1890s. The Wright's were inspired by Otto Lilienthal and indirectly by George Cayley. The Brothers best source of information came from mistakes made by others attempting to fly (Howard 113). In 1899 they wrote the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and received information from Octave Chanute and Samuel Langley. During this time Orville and Wilbur took up bird watching, which would prove to be helpful when designing their plane. They used the "airfoil" concept and put it into use on the tail of the plane. The Brothers invented "elevators" or horizontal rudders along with a cable system for "banking and rolling" in which they took from watching birds (Wescott and Jensen 57).
In 1900 they built their first full size glider. The testing site was Kill Devil Hills in Kitty Hawk North Carolina. Wilbur chose to be the test pilot, he laid on the bottom wing using his hands, feet and body weight to control the plane to it's best flight of 100 yards in 20 seconds. When 1901 rolled around they revised a few things, changing the hip cradle for cables to the wingtips. This idea failed, for Wilbur crashed, breaking not only the glider but himself too. The Brothers started from scratch, using a homemade wind tunnel to aid in making their own designs. The 1902 glider with two tail fins and wingtip connections proved to be successful, after making hundreds of flights without crashing. Their 1903 design was the first of the Wrights planes to be powered using a small engine and propeller, they called it the "flyer". The race for powered flight was on. Sam Langley attempted his flight on December 8th 1903 and was unsuccessful. December 17th would prove to be the day to be engraved in American history forever. Around 10:30 A.M. Orville took off, flew 40 yards in 12 seconds and landed the plane. Success, the first true powered flight. They flew more that day, each attempt proving to be longer and more successful (Carter 75). Said the Brothers," The ability to fly is a great achievement, We knew this goal was to be reached, but we were sure our eyes would never see the day it would actually happen" (Howard 81).
They may have achieved powered flight, but the Brothers plane concept remained to be something to contend with. In 1904 they revealed their second "flyer" which was stronger with a more powerful engine. The Brothers then unleashed their "flyer number 3" which had a simplified three lever control system. The new flyer set records including covering 25 miles in under 29 minuets. A few alterations were made to the Wrights new Type A Flyer. The pilot was then able to sit in a chair, and had only two levers to control the plane (Carter 86).
The Wright's thought the plane could play a vital part for our countries armed services. In early 1908 they demonstrated their plane to the US Army and President Taft. A few weeks after this, the first two-person flight was made with the Wright's good friend and mechanic Charlie Furnus. Orville and Wilbur then went home to work on a new flyer for the Army.
September 1908 Orville made demonstration flights for the Army at Fort Myer, Virginia. Thousands watched in amazement as he stayed aloft for over an hour, circling, banking, and diving. People were amazed with "ÃÂ¦the miracle of flight (Howard 48.) The Brothers returned home and were hailed as "all-conquering heroes" (Freedman 21).
Orville finished his flights for the US. Army, and President Taft. The airplane met more than expected and when all said and done "The Wrights were rich for life" (Howard 50). The Wrights continued to make progress. Their "rin fiz" made the first coast-to-coast trip across the USA, taking 70 separate flights or hops, between September and December 1911 (Freedman 25).
In 1912 Wilbur fell ill with typhoid fever and died on May 30th. Orville in 1918 gave up flying, and in 1948 died from a heart attack. In the 1920s Planes were used in World War 1 for spotting enemy positions, dogfights, and they played a small role in bombing raids (Wescott and Jensen 131).
The first Airmail service was started in 1918. Regular passenger flights began in the 1920's, and in 1924 two Douglas seaplanes flew around the world in 57 hops. In 1927 Charles Lindbergh made the first solo crossing of the Atlantic in his Ryan monoplane, "The Spirit of St. Louis." Space flight began in 1957 with the launch of the USSR's Sputnik 1 satellite. On July 20th 1969 Apollo 11 became first to fly humans to the moon. Neil Armstrong had a piece of the Wrights original Flyer on his suit. Today, our largest jet the Boeing 747 Jumbo, has a wingspan almost two times that of the first flight by the Wright Brothers Flyer (Parker 87).
The Wright Brothers have forever changed our lifestyle. With out their curiosity and accomplishments, who knows how advanced we would be? The Brothers made a great contribution to the history of our planet. The memory of Orville and Wilbur will be with us always, and however you cherish their contributions, do not take anything for granite.