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The Wright Brothers; Inventors of the Airplane

The Wright Brothers; Inventors of the Airplane The incredible interest of Orville and Wilbur Wright in flying, was said to be initially sparked with their experience of a toy given to them by their father. The foot long toy “helicopter” was made out of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to turn its rotor. The Wright brothers played continuously with their toy until it broke and after that they built one of their own. Wilbur Wright was born on April 16, 1867 in Millville, Indiana. He was the third welcomed child to parents, Susan Wright and Wilton Wright. Little did Susan Wright know that she had just given birth to the first half of one of the world’s most famous inventive partnerships. The other half of the duo, Orville, was born four years later, on August 19, 1871, in the family’s newly-built home at 7 Hawthorn Street in Dayton, Ohio. ”(Wright). With the combination of both parents the brothers inherited English, Dutch, and German-Swiss descents. The brothers had three other siblings that they grew up with and a set of twins that died in infancy. The brothers’ father was a minister in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

Due to his job he traveled around often. He moved his family to Dayton to attend a job to edit the church newspaper that was published there. The family lived in Dayton until 1878, when their father moved them to Iowa when he was appointed the position of bishop. In 1885, they returned to the house at 7 Hawthorn Street in the house that Orville was born in. “As youngsters, Wilbur and Orville looked to their mother for mechanical expertise and their father for intellectual challenge. ”(Wright). Although the boys were very smart they never received high school diplomas.

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Wilbur succeeded in school and would of graduated from high school if his family had not moved his senior year. Wilbur had plans of attending Yale to study to become a clergyman, but suffered from facial injuries during a hockey accident. The accident caused withdrawals and prevented him from returning to his education, but for the next few years he kept learning through reading repeatedly from his father’s book collections. He stayed at home caring for his mother who was terminally ill and eventually died July 4, 1889 at the age of 58. (Wright Brothers).

Orville, on the other hand, did not excel as well as Wilbur did in school. He was once expelled as a child for his mischevious behavior. He was an average student and stopped attending high school his junior year to start a printing business in 1889. With the help of Wilbur and his father they were able to design their own printing press. Wilbur finally looked past hid accident-prone depression and joined his younger brother at the press. He was editor while Orville was publisher. They stayed interested with journalism for several years. The two brothers were inseparable. Their personalities were perfectly complementary (each provided what the other lacked). Orville was full of ideas and enthusiasms. While, Wilbur was more steady in his habits, more mature in his judgments, and more likely to see a project through. ”(Wright). In 1892 the brothers opened a repair and sales shop of the highly crazed safety bicycle. They named their shop “Wright Cycle Company. ” In 1896 they manufactured their own brand. They used this money to save for their interest in flight.

The brothers then took up the problems of flight and had perfect knowledge of how to build machines from their bicycle company. In 1900, Wilbur built his first glider and took it to Kitty Hawk, a sandy area just off the coast of North Caroline, where he attempted the glider. The following year they improved the glider with a 20-foot wingspan. The next attempt was a failure, which inspired the brothers to experiment with wing shapes. With the results they made another glider, in 1902. They returned to Kitty Hawk with success with a gliding record of 620 feet.

They returned to Dayton with ambitions to build the first powered flying machine. They began with the engine and a propeller. “Having designed a propeller with the same principles they used to design their wings, Wilbur and Orville then built their own 4-cylinder, 12-horsepower engine. ”(Wright). They constructed their machines in parts in the back of their bicycle shop. When they finished they shipped the parts to Kitty Hawk where they had it pieced together. They boys fought over who would fly the first machine. They decided on a coin toss.

Wilbur won and on December 14, 1903, he made the first attempt. On take off, he stalled the engine causing slight damage, which resulted in it being sent back to be repaired. Orville attempted next on December 17 at 10:35 a. m. , he succeeded in the first heavier than air, machine powered flight in the history of the world. “In a flight lasting only 12 seconds and covering just 120 feet, Orville did what men and women had only dreamed of doing for centuries… he flew. ”(Wright). The brothers made it possible for future scientists to go off their innovation and be able to improve the airplane.

The airplane affected society greatly. Military was improved, government could ship things faster, and the human race could travel greater distances and more often. Later many pilots would fly across thousands of miles over land and water. It increased the speed of all of transportation. This invention has become very popular. It also showed citizens that anything can be done. Many thought that flying would be impossible but the Wright brothers proved them wrong. The Wright brothers made history and will make future as bigger and better innovations occur.


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