Celebrating the Wright Brothers

Dec. 17, 1903, the first flight. The Wright Flyer. Orville piloting, Wilbur running on side. Courtesy Wikipedia.

This week marks the anniversary of the first successful airplane flight on December 17, 1903.

 

The Wright Flyer, a 12 horsepower biplane with a four cylinder engine, was flown by two Americans:  Orville and Wilbur Wright. That day each man flew two times.  The best flight of the day peaked at 852 feet and lasted 59 seconds.

 

The Wright Flyer, designed and engineered by the Wright Brothers,  hangs proudly in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.  I have stood below this plane, made of wood and muslin; it looks like a fragile toy.  It is hard to believe anyone repeatedly endangered their life flying in it.    Click here for Wright Flyer info.

 

Wilbur (on L), age 42; Orville (R), age 38. 1909, Dayton OH. Courtesy David McCullough

Wilbur (on L), age 42; Orville (R), age 38. 1909, Dayton OH. Courtesy David McCullough

Earlier, in 1892 in Ohio, the two brothers, four years apart in age, had opened a bicycle shop.  Both men, mechanical by nature, sold and repaired bicycles, and eventually manufactured them as well.

 

Their work here funded their growing interests in flying; it also familiarized them with the mechanics of balance.

 

In the latter years of the 1800s, numerous inventors studied aeronautics–there were successes and failures (i.e. death) in unmanned flights and gliders.  Whereas other inventors paralleled their engineering designs on the locomotive, the Wright Brothers studied the mechanics of flying birds.

 

The Wrights were unique in their belief that pilot control was the most important aspect, as opposed to the most powerful engine.

 

Wright Bros. building their airplane

Wright Bros. building their airplane. Courtesy David McCullough.

In 1900 the brothers found an ideal place to implement experiments on the sands of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  They practiced flying with gliders.

 

The sand offered a softer landing, the beach offered wind.  “No bird soars in a calm” said Wilbur.

 

Over the years, the brothers built wings, propellers, three gliders, and a wind tunnel.  When they realized a suitably light engine was not available for their craft, they hired Charlie Taylor, their bicycle mechanic, to build an engine.

 

He built the engine in six weeks, based on the Wrights’ sketches; and would become a vital contributor in the years ahead.

 

Replica of Wright Bros. Wind Tunnel, VA Air & Space Museum. Courtesy Wikipedia.

More info here about the Wright Brothers.  Recommended reading:  “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough, click here.

 

Orville Wright, Sept. 1908. Photo C.H. Claudy. Courtesy Wikipedia

 

This week we have the privilege of celebrating the anniversary; and honoring the genius, skill, courage, and tenacity of the Wright Brothers.

 

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander or others as noted

 

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38 thoughts on “Celebrating the Wright Brothers

  1. Now those were the days of real adventure. Like you, I have stood beneath the plane at The National Air & Space Museum….and yes, it seems impossible that these two men flew such a machine! I wonder what they would say if they could see the airline industry today. Two men whose lives we should celebrate. Thank you, Jet:)

  2. What a great post this is, Jet! I’ve always admired the early pioneers of flight. I remember thinking of that small plane in D.C., which I’ve seen many times, when I first set my foot in the huge “Dreamliner”. I don’t think the Wright brothers could imagine what a revolution they started in travel 🙂

    • And I have wonderful images in my mind of your recent post, Tiny. Those lovely photos above the clouds. Wouldn’t the Wright Bros. just go beserk if they saw one of your photos? Many thanks for your wonderful comment. 😀

  3. Pingback: Celebrating the Wright Brothers | Jet Eliot | First Night History

  4. Great tribute to such an achievement,dear Jet!Step by step and day by day,and so on,thanks to them we have those supersonic engines travelling the skies like light!They were inspired by the huge birds you and Athena observe and the function of their wings!All the best to you my dear friend 🙂

    • Yes, dear Doda, it is a wondrous thing to fly like a bird. I had the flying fever many yrs ago and flew airplanes and skydived too. And there is a unique thrill to soaring above the earth. Isn’t it wonderful to know that the Wright Bros. learned some flight lessons from birds? My thanks to you for your wonderful comments today. I’m sorry I originally missed your sweet mural comment. 😀

  5. Great information, thank you, Jet! It is truly amazing to realize how far we have come since their day. I can only imagine what and where we’ll be flying in another 100 years! Perhaps to Mars for a weekend get-away! 🚀

    • It is mind-boggling to think about it, isn’t it, Big Sow? If so very very much has occurred since the Wright Bros. flew their 12 horse-powered biplane, just what will humans be doing 100 years from now?? Thanks so much for stopping by today — and have a great flight next week!! 😀

  6. So much to celebrate! We were in the Outer Banks for the 100 year anniversary of the first flight at Kitty Hawk, and as others have said here, it is astonishing to think about how quickly human flight has progressed since then. I don’t love to fly but appreciate the achievement and opportunities. As for those who sky dive…really?! That’s brave (or something!)

    • How wonderful that you were in NC for the 100th anniversary, it must have been great fun to be there. Was it windy? The thrill of flying and skydiving hit me long ago, and I enjoyed it for a few yrs in college, but I prefer to find joy on the earth now. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, pc. Thanks so very much. 🙂

  7. This story attest to the american ingenuity and the realization of the dreams! Two brothers thinking as one ’till they achieved their goal! After a little over a century later…look how far we’ve grown in Aeronautics! Thanks Jet for your great post. I always admire great ingenuity! 🙂

    • I admire great ingenuity and realizing dreams so much, too, HJ. I was so inspired reading about these two pioneers and their challenging path. When a glider would break, they would fix it; when they wanted to learn more about wind, they built a wind tunnel. They just kept focused and continued to push forward. Amazing! Thanks so very much. 😀

    • Yes, it hit me a similar way, Sue. Sometimes air travel is not so comfortable, and I think it’s much sweeter when you think about how it all started and what genius it took. Thanks so much! 😀

  8. Great post, Jet! Thank you so much for reminding us their courage, vision, intelligence, and contributions. Btw, David McCullough is a great writer, I have read a few of his books.

    • Thanks Amy, it is a true pleasure and honor to share a bit of history about the Wright Bros. And, yes, I think David McCullough is a great writer too. Have a wonderful week, my friend! 😀

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