Before they built the world’s first powered, heavier-than-air, and controllable aircraft. Wilbur and Orville Wright were two ordinary brothers from the Midwest who possessed nothing more than natural talent, ambition, and imagination.
To honor the Wright brothers, we will take a look into their past and the impact they had on aviation today through the history of flight, So we present the top five most fascinating facts regarding the Wright Brothers.
5. They were entrepreneurs first and foremost
Even though the brothers didn’t finish high school due to completely different reasons. (Wilbur decided to take care of their terminally sick mother, while Orville opened up a business).
They were both very interested in opening up businesses and creating the most out of the opportunities provided. Orville opened a print shop in 1889 once he designed and built a printing press by himself. Wilbur joined him on this journey and they launched a weekly newspaper.
When the U.S went through a bicycle craze, the Wright Brothers opened up a bike look in Dayton, Ohio. The brothers referred to as it the Wright Cycle Exchange. In 1909, the Wrights sold the company to W.F. Meyers, so they could focus on aviation.
4. They created a fun competition between Ohio and North Carolina
Both states are taking credit for the inventions of the Wright Brothers. The Wright Brothers were born in Ohio. They also built and designed their aircraft in Dayton, Ohio. However, Orville and Wilbur tested their aircraft in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
So, the states decided to partake in a cheeky competition – Ohio has the slogan “Birthplace Of Aviation” on its license plate. Meanwhile, North Carolina uses the slogan “First In Flight”. The competition was so “intense”, that the Brothers’ bicycle shop and home were moved from Dayton to Greenfield Village.
3. Wrights fought a war
As Wilbur had passed away before world war I started and Orville was too old to serve in both world war I and world war II, Orville fought a patent war. In 1906 they were granted a patent for their flying machine, which was a glider.
The patent was very important because it described the way how to build a mechanism that would control an aircraft. To bypass the patent, varied early aviators, namely Glenn Curtiss, built ailerons to control pitch.
Once Curtiss successfully flew his AEA June bug, the Wrights’ warned him not to profit from flying or selling aircraft. He refused to comply and made a profit by selling an aircraft equipped with ailerons. In 1906 the legal war began between the two sides.
Wright Brothers earned a victory in 1913, but the Curtiss Company appealed the decision. in a wild twist of fate, the Wright Aeronautical Corporation, and Curtiss airplane merged into one company to create Curtiss-Wright Corporation, which exists to the current day!
2. The Smithsonian institution bought the first Flyer for one dollar
To be honest, it isn‘t as black and white as it seems. The flyer was initially donated to the London science museum because the Smithsonian institution (which owns the National Air and Space Museum) refused to acknowledge that the Flyer was the first aircraft capable of a powered flight.
The institution thought that their own secretary, Samuel Pierpont Langley was the first person to create and fly an aircraft that was heavier than air. when in fact, the public regarded Samuel’s tests as a failure.
After years of bad blood between the two sides, the Smithsonian finally gave in. Fred C. Kelly, the biographer of the Wright Brothers encouraged them, as Orville had already passed away. so the original Flyer returned to the U.S in 1948 and the Smithsonian institution bought it for 1 dollar.
But, the sale contract had very harsh terms on how to show the Flyer. The agreement outlines that no one in the U.S could display an aircraft, that was capable of a manned powered flight, that preceded the Flyer.
1. They designed and built the world’s first successful aircraft
And while it could be nothing new, the fact is that the Wright Brothers are the people who helped shape aviation into what it’s today.
The Flyer, dubbed “the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard.” was powered by a twelve horse-power engine, delivering a maximum speed of 48 km/h, while being able to have a max load of 338 kg on takeoff.
The first successful flight took place on the 17th of December, 1903. the total covered distance was thirty-seven meters and lasted twelve seconds. for example, the wingspan of the Airbus A380 is 80 meters – double the distance covered by the Wrights’ flyer.
And although their name might carry some controversy, nobody doubts their contribution to aviation. They were and are heroes of everyone, who has ever stepped inside an aircraft.