Wright Brothers Fly

Wright Flyer

On December 17,1903 man's first flight in a heavier than air vehicle occurred in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The inventors were Orville and Wilbur Wright. In the first flight, the plane flew for 12 seconds for 120 feet.


Man had dreamed of flying from the earliest times. One of the earliest Greek myths was of Icarus flying too close to the sun. Early efforts saw people trying to fly like birds. Leonardo da Vinci put drew over 100 drawing of potential flying machines. The first actual flight took place using a balloon on November 21, 1783. Next came gliders the most famous of whom was built by Otto Lilienthal who made more than 2000 flights with a glider before he was killed in a crash. Before he died, he wrote a book on aerodynamics which was used by the Wright Brothers when working on their planes.

Orville and Wilbur Wright were both mechanics who had a bicycle shop. By the late 1890s, the brothers had become obsessed with flying. They believed that power flight was the only way to go, but before they could move on to powered flight, they needed to gain control of flight by practicing on gliders. The brothers built their gliders based on the basic designs of box kites. To practice, they decided on Kitty Hawk North Carolina as a place with good wings and level places to practice. In the brothers began their tests in the early fall of 1900 coming back again in 1901 and 1902 improving their design each time.

By 1903 they felt ready to add an engine and begin powered flight. Since no engine manufacturer could meet their requirements, they build their own engine with a light-weight aluminum design. After an initial failed attempt, history was made on December 17th, 1903 at 10:35 Am when Orville piloted the Wright Flyer for 12 seconds as it covered 120 feet. They flew three more times that day each time a little longer and a little higher.

It would take two more years many more experiments before the bothers using Flyer III were able to truly achieve sustained and controlled flight. However, there was no turning back.