Wilbur and Orville Wright aka the Wright Brothers invented and flew the first airplane. Wilbur Wright was born on August 16, 1867, and his brother Orville was born on August 19, 1871. Read their bios at http://www.famoushomeschoolers.net/bio_wrightbros.html
The sons of a minister, the two brothers grew up in a rich home learning environment in which they were encouraged to explore whatever interested them. They spent much of their time inventing mechanical toys. As young men, they opened a bicycle repair shop. They also designed and built bicycles. Since childhood, both had been interested in the possibility of man’s being able to fly. They read all they could about aviation and taught themselves aeronautics (the science of flight). Around 1898 they began to experiment with kites and gliders. They made the first wind tunnel so that they could test their inventions, several of which were used on the plane they flew at Kitty Hawk.
It’s been over 100 years since the Wright brothers’ first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It all happened on the beautiful shores of the Outer Banks at Kill Devil Hill on the morning of December 17, 1903. The Wright brothers designed and built both the biplane and its motor. Orville piloted the first powered flight. At 10:35 am, the Wright brothers’ flyer lifted into the air for 12 seconds and covered a distance of 121 feet. For the first time, a manned machine left the ground by its own power, moved forward under control without losing speed, and landed on a point as high as that from which it started. Later that day, Wilbur made a much longer flight of 852 feet in 59 seconds.
In the beginning, few people believed reports of the Kitty Hawk flight. Then Wilbur started giving flying demonstrations in Europe, and their achievements became known throughout the world. In 1908, he stayed in the air for 2 hours and 20 minutes on one flight.
In 1908, the Marquis d’Equevilly designed an aircraft that looked a great deal like a vegetable shredder and flew almost as well. Photo from www.wright-brothers.org.
A scene from the Rheims “Aviation Week” of 1909, the first major air show, with an impressive 38 planes on display. (Only 23 of them got off the ground, but it was still impressive.) Photo from www.wright-brothers.org.
The brothers continued to improve their airplane design and they built several more biplanes. At first, they made a good profit using airplanes for entertainment. When the U.S. Army purchased a Wright biplane in 1909, this marked the birth of military air power. The Wright brothers formed their own company and began manufacturing airplanes in New York City. Before long, airplanes were being built in France, England, Germany, and Italy. Airplane makers continued to try new designs and build better models. Small companies that had been building planes slowly, by hand, began to speed up production. They hired engineers to develop airplanes that were safer and more practical. Wilbur Wright died of typhoid in 1912. Orville Wright lived until 1948, long enough to see airplanes used in both World Wars.
For more information about the Wright brothers and flight, visit www.wright-brothers.org.
Article Source: Homeschooling Kids Magazine