Inventors are inspirational. The Wright Brothers were inventors and aviation pioneers. Wilbur Wright was an editor, bicycle retailer and manufacturer, an airplane inventor and manufacturer, and a pilot trainer. Orville Wright was a printer and publisher, a bicycle retailer and manufacturer, an airplane inventor and manufacturer, and a pilot trainer.
The brothers had five other siblings. Wilbur was born on April 16, 1867 in Millville, Indiana. Orville was born on August 19, 1871 in Dayton, Ohio. In 1878, their father, a bishop who traveled, brought them home a toy helicopter. This toy inspired them and they became interested in flying. In 1889, they started a printing business with a printing press they had built. They launched a weekly newspaper. In 1890, they moved on to commercial printing. In late 1892, they opened a bicycle repair and sales shop that later became the Wright Cycle Company. In the 1890s other inventors and aeronautical events led to their mechanical aeronautical experimentation.
The brothers believed the key to successful flight was control. They believed practicing gliding with control should occur before motor-driven flight. They discovered wing-warping to balance. They believed the pilot should have control over balance. In 1899, Wilbur built and flew a biplane kite with a five-foot wingspan. In 1900, the brothers began manned gliding experiments in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Tests and experiments occurred both manned and unmanned. They built a six-foot wind tunnel back home in their shop to conduct tests. They continued to make improvements on their glider. In 1902, the Wrights achieved control and made them ready to build an engine powered flying machine.
In 1903, the Wrights applied for patent for their flying machine with three-axis control. They then built the powered Wright Flyer I. Their shop mechanic, Charlie Taylor, built the lightweight engine they desired. Wilbur made a three-second flight on December 14, 1903. Both brothers took flights on December 17, 1903. After the fourth flight the wind flipped the Flyer I and it was severely damaged. It was later restored, but never flew again. In 1904, the Wrights built and flew the Flyer II. Flyer III was built in 1905. They began flying at Huffman Prairie near Dayton, Ohio. The brothers remained relatively unknown and many were skeptical about their accomplishments as the brothers did not invite reporters. New York newspapers covered their flights in 1908.
The brothers got contracts from the U.S. Army ans a French syndicate. In 1908, Edith Berg, became the first American female passenger. The Wrights had patent struggles. Legal issues interfered with them working on new designs. Wilbur took the lead in the struggle, but died in 1912 from typhoid fever. In 1914, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision ended the legal war and ruled in the Wrights’ favor. From 1910 until 1916 the Wright Brothers Flying School trained 115 pilots. Orville sold the Wright Company in 1915. He became a statesman of aviation. Orville served on the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics for 28 years. He received awards and honors. Orville died in 1948. Both brothers have received tributes to their life and legacy. Be inspired! Have a bright day!