Orville and Wilbur Wright, more commonly known collectively as the Wright brothers, were the pioneers of aviation, and responsible for one of the greatest inventions in human history. The Wright brothers are credited with inventing and building the first successful airplane in the world, and then conducting the first ever controlled, powered and sustained flight on 17th December 1903.
The Wright brothers were two of the seven children born to Milton Wright and Susan Catherine Koerner. Wilbur Wright was born in 1867 near Millville, Indiana, while Orville, a mischievous boy who is said to have been expelled from school on at least one occasion, was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1871.
The boys’ father, who was a bishop and travelled often, once brought home a toy ‘helicopter’ for his two sons, based on an invention by Alphonse Penaud, which they played with until it broke, then replaced it with one of their own making. The brothers both said in later years that this toy sparked their interest in aviation.
In the late 1880s, with both brothers failing to receive their high school diplomas, Orville started up a printing business with Milton’s help. They went on to publish their own weekly newspaper, the West Side News, along with other publications.
As budding inventors, the brothers capitalised on the popularity of bicycles and opened the Wright Cycle Company. The brothers used this venture to fund their ever-growing interest in aviation.
The brothers began creating their own gliders over the next few years and, having successfully conducted a perfect glided flight, they were ready to take the very first successful powered flight in human history.
On 17th December 1903, the Wright brothers flew their plane at Kitty Hawk Beach for 120 feet, with the flight lasting about 12 seconds and reaching 20 feet above the ground.
Little did the brothers know that they had paved the way for modern aviation as it stands today, taking a powered flight that continues to inspire engineers today.
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