Biography Of Orville And Wilbur Wright

Biography of how Orville and Wilbur Wright worked tirelessly, disproving supposed theories, to complete their invention of the airplane.

Wilbur and Orville Wright were two of four children of Milton and Susan Wright. Wilbur was born in Indiana in 1867, whilst his younger brother was born four years later in Ohio. It was inevitable that they would be born in different places, as their father was a bishop whose job dictated that he move house often. All the children were encouraged to learn at home, no matter what the topic. As the house in Ohio had not one but two libraries, they had no excuse not to.

The boys' fascination with aeronautics was kindled in 1878, when their father returned home with a toy helicopter powered by a rubber band. Immediately they began designing flying machines of their own, but soon became disheartened when they failed to fly for a sustained period of time.

When Wilbur was aged nineteen, he was struck in the face by accident whilst playing a game. Subsequently he suffered from heart palpitations, and for the next four years was forced to convalesce. At the same time he looked after his sick mother who was dying from tuberculosis. Being house bound in such a negative atmosphere took its toll on him, and in essence he became depressed.

In 1889, the year of their mother's death, the Wright brothers started up a printing business together, producing the weekly "˜West Side News'. Three years later they opened a bicycle shop, a good time to do so as a bicycle craze had the nation gripped. Using their naturally inventive mends they began to design their own bicycles, and used any money made from the venture to fund more aeronautically orientated experiments.

Shrugging off their pessimism of earlier years, Orville and Wilbur Wright became convinced that the possibility of powered, sustained, controlled flight of an airplane was more than mere fantasy. In part this was down to reading of the death of Otto Lilienthal, who had designed and flown many gliders. By 1900 they had built a machine that they believed would fly. A year later they attempted to do so but failed. Undeterred, a wind tunnel was built in order to work out the correct lift data required for such an aircraft. Whilst experimenting in the wind tunnel they discovered that longer, narrower wings were more effective. Combined with their earlier discovery concerning roll, pitch, and yaw, which effectively controlled the aircraft, they had arrived at a winning combination.

On December 17, 1903 Orville took off in "˜The Flyer' and controlled it in the air for twelve seconds. Feverish alterations were made and by 1905, thirty-minute flights had been achieved. Twelve months later they had received their patent for the "˜Wright Flying Machine'. They subsequently signed contracts to build planes in Europe and for the US army.

Two years after the death of Wilbur Wright from typhoid in 1912, matters concerning the invention of the airplane became somewhat ugly. The Smithsonian Institution claimed that one of their men had beaten the Wright Brothers to the invention of the airplane. It wasn't until 1942, six years before the death of Orville Wright that they retracted the claim. Happily though, soon after his death a rebuilt "˜Flyer III' was put on display in Ohio, his hometown.

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