Wright Flyer

The Wright Flyer (often retrospectively referred to as Flyer I or 1903 Flyer) was the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft. It was designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903, near Kill Devil Hills, about four miles (6.4 km) south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Today, the airplane is exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The U.S. Smithsonian Institution describes the aircraft as "the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard."[2] The flight of Flyer I marks the beginning of the "pioneer era" of aviation.

Wright Flyer
Wright First Flight 1903Dec17 (full restore 115)
Seconds into the first airplane flight, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; December 17, 1903, Photo first published in 1908
Role First airplane
National origin United States
Designer Orville and Wilbur Wright
First flight December 17, 1903[1]
Number built 1
Developed from Wright Glider
Developed into Wright Flyer II
Wright Flyer III
Other name(s) Flyer I, 1903 Flyer
Type Experimental canard biplane
Manufacturer Wright Cycle Company
Manufactured 1903
First flight December 17, 1903
Owners and operators Wright Brothers
Last flight December 17, 1903
Flights 4
Fate On display in the National Air & Space Museum[2]
Preserved at The Smithsonian[2]

Design and construction

Wright brothers patent plans 1908
Patent plan

The Flyer was based on the Wrights' experience testing gliders at Kitty Hawk between 1900 and 1902. Their last glider, the 1902 Glider, led directly to the design of the Flyer.[3]

The Wrights built the aircraft in 1903 using giant spruce wood as their construction material.[2] The wings were designed with a 1-in-20 camber. Since they could not find a suitable automobile engine for the task, they commissioned their employee Charlie Taylor to build a new design from scratch, effectively a crude 12 horsepower gasoline engine.[4] A sprocket chain drive, borrowing from bicycle technology, powered the twin propellers, which were also made by hand.[3] In order to avoid the risk of torque effects from affecting the aircraft handling, one drive chain was crossed over so that the propellers rotated in opposite directions.

The Flyer was a bicanard biplane configuration. As with the gliders, the pilot flew lying on his stomach on the lower wing with his head toward the front of the craft in an effort to reduce drag. He steered by moving a cradle attached to his hips. The cradle pulled wires which warped the wings and turned the rudder simultaneously.

The Flyer's "runway" was a track of 2x4s stood on their narrow edge, which the brothers nicknamed the "Junction Railroad."

Flight trials at Kitty Hawk

Upon returning to Kitty Hawk in 1903, the Wrights completed assembly of the Flyer while practicing on the 1902 Glider from the previous season. On December 14, 1903, they felt ready for their first attempt at powered flight. With the help of men from the nearby government life-saving station, the Wrights moved the Flyer and its launching rail to the incline of a nearby sand dune, Big Kill Devil Hill, intending to make a gravity-assisted takeoff. The brothers tossed a coin to decide who would get the first chance at piloting, and Wilbur won. The airplane left the rail, but Wilbur pulled up too sharply, stalled, and came down after 3​12 seconds with minor damage.[3]

Repairs after the abortive first flight took three days. When they were ready again on December 17, the wind was averaging more than 20 miles per hour (32 km/h), so the brothers laid the launching rail on level ground, pointed into the wind, near their camp. This time the wind, instead of an inclined launch, provided the necessary airspeed for takeoff. Because Wilbur had already had the first chance, Orville took his turn at the controls. His first flight lasted 12 seconds for a total distance of 120 feet (37 m) – shorter than the wingspan of a Boeing 747, as noted by observers in the 2003 commemoration of the first flight.[1][5]

Taking turns, the Wrights made four brief, low-altitude flights that day. The flight paths were all essentially straight; turns were not attempted. Each flight ended in a bumpy and unintended "landing." The last flight, by Wilbur, was 852 feet (260 m) in 59 seconds, much longer than each of the three previous flights of 120, 175 and 200 feet (37, 53 and 61 m). The landing broke the front elevator supports, which the Wrights hoped to repair for a possible four-mile (6.4 km) flight to Kitty Hawk village. Soon after, a heavy gust picked up the Flyer and tumbled it end over end, damaging it beyond any hope of quick repair.[3] It was never flown again.

Distant view of the Wright airplane just after landing, taken from the starting point, with wing-rest in center of picture and launching rail at right. This flight, the fourth and final of December 17, 1903, was the longest: 852 feet (260 m) covered in 59 seconds.[6][7] Photo first published 1908.

In 1904, the Wrights continued refining their designs and piloting techniques in order to obtain fully controlled flight. Major progress toward this goal was achieved with a new Flyer in 1904 and even more decisively in 1905 with a third Flyer, in which Wilbur made a 39-minute, 24-mile (39 km) nonstop circling flight on October 5.[8] While the 1903 Flyer was clearly a historically important test vehicle, its hallowed status in the American imagination has obscured the role of its two successors in the continuing development that led to the Wrights' mastery of controlled powered flight in 1905.

The influence of the Flyer

Orville Wright&flyer1909
Orville Wright with a later Model A Flyer at Tempelhof Field in Berlin

The Flyer series of aircraft were the first to achieve controlled heavier-than-air flight, but some of the mechanical techniques the Wrights used to accomplish this were not influential for the development of aviation as a whole, although their theoretical achievements were. The Flyer design depended on wing-warping and a foreplane or "canard" for pitch control, features which would not scale and produced a hard-to-control aircraft. However, the Wrights' pioneering use of "roll control" by twisting the wings to change wingtip angle in relation to the airstream led directly to the more practical use of ailerons by their imitators, such as Curtiss and Farman. The Wrights' original concept of simultaneous coordinated roll and yaw control (rear rudder deflection), which they discovered in 1902, perfected in 1903–1905, and patented in 1906, represents the solution to controlled flight and is used today on virtually every fixed-wing aircraft. The Wright patent included the use of hinged rather than warped surfaces for the forward elevator and rear rudder. Other features that made the Flyer a success were highly efficient wings and propellers, which resulted from the Wrights' exacting wind tunnel tests and made the most of the marginal power delivered by their early "homebuilt" engines; slow flying speeds (and hence survivable accidents); and an incremental test/development approach. The future of aircraft design, however, lay with rigid wings, ailerons and rear control surfaces. A British patent of 1868 for aileron technology[9] had apparently been completely forgotten by the time the 20th century dawned.

After a single statement to the press in January 1904 and a failed public demonstration in May, the Wright Brothers did not publicize their efforts, and other aviators who were working on the problem of flight (notably Alberto Santos-Dumont) were thought by the press to have preceded them by many years. Indeed, several short heavier-than-air powered flights had been made by other aviators before 1903, leading to controversy about precedence (see Early flying machines). The Wrights, however, claimed to be the first of these which was "properly controlled."

The issue of control was correctly seen as critical by the Wrights, and they acquired a wide American patent intended to give them ownership of basic aerodynamic control. This was fought in both American and European courts. European designers, however, were little affected by the litigation and continued their own development. The legal fight in the U.S., however, had a crushing effect on the nascent American aircraft industry, and by the time of World War I, the U.S. had no suitable military aircraft and had to purchase French and British models.

Flyer stability

The Flyer was conceived as a control-canard, as the Wrights were more concerned with control than stability.[10] However, it was found to be so highly unstable that it was barely controllable.[11] During flight tests near Dayton the Wrights added ballast to the nose of the aircraft to move the center of gravity forward and reduce pitch instability. However the basics of pitch stability of the canard configuration were not understood by the Wright Brothers. F.E.C. Culick stated, "The backward state of the general theory and understanding of flight mechanics hindered them... Indeed, the most serious gap in their knowledge was probably the basic reason for their unwitting mistake in selecting their canard configuration."[12]

The Flyer after Kitty Hawk

The Wright Brothers returned home to Dayton for Christmas after the flights of the Kitty Hawk Flyer. While they had abandoned their other gliders, they realized the historical significance of the Flyer. They shipped the heavily damaged craft back to Dayton, where it remained stored in crates behind a Wright Company shed for 9 years. The Great Dayton Flood of March 1913 covered the flyer in mud and water for 11 days.[13]

Charlie Taylor relates in a 1948 article that the Flyer nearly got disposed of by the Wrights themselves. In early 1912 Roy Knabenshue, The Wrights Exhibition team manager, had a conversation with Wilbur and asked Wilbur what they planned to do with the Flyer. Wilbur said they most likely will burn it, as they had the 1904 machine. According to Taylor, Knabenshue talked Wilbur out of disposing of the machine for historical purposes.[14]

In 1910 the Wrights first made attempts to exhibit the Flyer in the Smithsonian Institution but talks fell through with the ensuing lawsuits against Glenn Curtiss and the Flyer may have been needed as repeated evidence in court cases. Wilbur died in 1912, and in 1916, as the patent fights were ending, Orville brought the Flyer out of storage and prepared it for display at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He replaced parts of the wing covering, the props, and the engine's crankcase, crankshaft, and flywheel. The crankcase, crankshaft and flywheel of the original engine had been sent to the Aero Club of America in New York for an exhibit in 1906 and were never returned to the Wrights. The replacement crankcase, crankshaft and flywheel came from the experimental engine Charlie Taylor had built in 1904 and used for testing in the bicycle shop. A replica crankcase of the flyer is on display at the visitor center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

Debate with the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institution, and primarily its then-secretary Charles Walcott, refused to give credit to the Wright Brothers for the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft. Instead, they honored the former Smithsonian Secretary Samuel Pierpont Langley, whose 1903 tests of his own Aerodrome on the Potomac were not successful. Walcott was a friend of Langley and wanted to see Langley's place in aviation history restored. In 1914, Glenn Curtiss had recently exhausted the appeal process in a patent infringement legal battle with the Wrights. Curtiss sought to prove Langley's machine, which failed piloted tests nine days before the Wrights' successful flight in 1903, capable of controlled, piloted flight in an attempt to invalidate the Wrights' wide sweeping patents.

The Aerodrome was removed from exhibit at the Smithsonian and prepared for flight at Keuka Lake, New York. Curtiss called the preparations "restoration" claiming that the only addition to the design was pontoons to support testing on the lake but critics including patent attorney Griffith Brewer called them alterations of the original design. Curtiss flew the modified Aerodrome, hopping a few feet off the surface of the lake for no more than 5 seconds at a time.[15]

Between 1916 and 1928 the Flyer was prepared and assembled for exhibition under the supervision of Orville by Wright Company mechanic Jim Jacobs several times. It was briefly exhibited at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1916, the New York Aero Shows in 1917 and 1919, a Society of Automotive Engineers meeting in Dayton, Ohio in 1918, and the National Air Races in Dayton in 1924.[16]

Wright Flyer at the Science Museum London
Wright Flyer was exhibited at the Science Museum, London 1928–1948

In 1925, Orville attempted to persuade the Smithsonian to recognize his and Wilbur's accomplishment by offering to send the Flyer to the Science Museum in London. This action did not have its intended effect, and the Flyer went on display in the London museum in 1928. It remained there in "the place of honour,"[17] except during World War II when it was moved to an underground storage facility 100 miles (160 km) from London, near the village of Corsham.[16]

In 1942 the Smithsonian Institution, under a new secretary, Charles Abbot, published a list of 35 Curtiss modifications to the Aerodrome and a retraction of its long-held claims for the craft. Abbot went on to list 4 regrets including the role the Institution played in supporting unsuccessful defendants in patent litigation by the Wrights, misinformation about modifications made to the Aerodrome after Wright Flyer's first flight and public statements attributing the "first aeroplane capable of sustained free flight with a man" to Secretary Langley. The entry in the 1942 Annual Report of Smithsonian Institution begins with the statement "It is everywhere acknowledged that the Wright brothers were the first to make sustained flights in a heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903" and closes with a promise that "Should Dr. Wright decide to deposit the plane ... it would be given the highest place of honor which it is due"[18]

The following year, Orville, after exchanging several letters with Abbott, agreed to return the Flyer to the United States. The Flyer stayed at the Science Museum until a replica could be built, based on the original. This change of heart by the Smithsonian is also mired in controversy – the Flyer was sold to the Smithsonian under several contractual conditions, one of which reads:

Neither the Smithsonian Institution or its successors, nor any museum or other agency, bureau or facilities administered for the United States of America by the Smithsonian Institution or its successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date than the Wright Aeroplane of 1903, claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight.[19][20]

Researchers who promote the accomplishments of pioneer aviator Gustave Whitehead have commented that this agreement renders the Smithsonian unable to make properly unbiased academic decisions concerning any prior claims of 'first flight'.[21]

In 1948 the official handover of the Flyer was made to the American Civil Air Attaché at a ceremony attended by representatives of the various flying organizations in the UK and by some British aviation pioneers such as Sir Alliott Verdon-Roe.[22] Later in 1948, the Flyer was returned to the United States on board the Mauretania. When the liner docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Paul E. Garber of the Smithsonian's National Air Museum met the aircraft and took command of the proceedings. The rest of the journey to Washington continued on flatbed truck. While in Halifax Garber met John A. D. McCurdy, at the time the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. McCurdy as a young man had been a member of Alexander Graham Bell's team Aerial Experiment Association, which included Glenn Curtiss, and later a famous pioneer pilot. During the stay at Halifax, Garber and McCurdy reminisced about the pioneer aviation days and the Wright Brothers. McCurdy also offered Garber any assistance he needed to get the Flyer home.[23]

In the Smithsonian

The Flyer I as it appeared in 1982 before restoration. Compare with 1995 image after restoration below.

The Flyer was put on display in the Arts and Industries Building of the Smithsonian on December 17, 1948, 45 years to the day after the aircraft's only flights. (Orville did not live to see this, as he died in January of that year.) In 1976, it was moved to the Milestones of Flight Gallery of the new National Air and Space Museum. Since 2003 it has resided in a special exhibit in the museum titled "The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age," honoring the Wright Brothers in recognition of the 100th anniversary of their first flight.

A piece of fabric and wood from the Wright Flyer was taken to the surface of the Moon by the crew of Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission, in July 1969.[24]

1985 restoration

Wright Flyer AN0231034
In 1995 after restoration: compare with 1982 image before restoration above

In 1981, discussion began on the need to restore the Flyer from the aging it sustained after many decades on display. During the ceremonies celebrating the 78th anniversary of the first flights, Mrs. Harold S. Miller (Ivonette Wright, Lorin's daughter), one of the Wright brothers' nieces, presented the Museum with the original covering of one wing of the Flyer, which she had received in her inheritance from Orville. She expressed her wish to see the aircraft restored.[25]

The fabric covering on the aircraft at the time, which came from the 1927 restoration, was discolored and marked with water spots. Metal fasteners holding the wing uprights together had begun to corrode, marking the nearby fabric.[25]

Work began in 1985. The restoration was supervised by Senior Curator Robert Mikesh and assisted by Wright Brothers expert Tom Crouch. Museum director Walter J. Boyne decided to perform the restoration in full view of the public.[25]

The wooden framework was cleaned, and corrosion on metal parts removed. The covering was the only part of the aircraft replaced. The new covering was more accurate to the original than that of the 1927 restoration. To preserve the original paint on the engine, the restorers coated it in inert wax before putting on a new coat of paint.[25]

The effects of the 1985 restoration were intended to last 75 years (to 2060) before another restoration would be required.[25]

Flyer reproductions

A number of individuals and groups have attempted to build reproductions of the Wright Flyer for demonstration or scientific purposes.

In 1978, 23-year-old Ken Kellett built a replica Flyer in Colorado and flew it at Kitty Hawk on the 75th and 80th anniversaries of the first flight there. Construction took a year and cost $3,000.[26]

As the 100th anniversary on December 17, 2003 approached, the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission along with other organizations opened bids for companies to recreate the original flight. The Wright Experience, led by Ken Hyde, won the bid and painstakingly recreated reproductions of the original Flyer, plus many of the prototype gliders and kites as well as several subsequent Wright aircraft. The completed Flyer reproduction was brought to Kitty Hawk and pilot Kevin Kochersberger attempted to recreate the original flight at 10:35 AM December 17, 2003 on level ground near the bottom of Kill Devil Hill.[27] Although the aircraft had previously made several successful test flights, sour weather, rain, and weak winds prevented a successful flight on the actual anniversary date. Hyde's reproduction is displayed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

The Los Angeles Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) built a full-scale replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer between 1979-1993 using plans from the original Wright Flyer published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1950. Constructed in advance of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight, the replica was intended for wind tunnel testing to provide a historically accurate aerodynamic database of the Wright Flyer design.[28] The aircaft went on display at the March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California. Numerous static display-only, nonflying reproductions are on display around the United States and across the world, making this perhaps the most reproduced single aircraft of the "pioneer" era in history, rivaling the number of copies — some of which are airworthy — of Louis Blériot's cross-Channel Bleriot XI from 1909.

Wright Flyer wind-tunnel-large NASA

The AIAA's Flyer reproduction undergoing testing in a NASA wind tunnel.

Wright Flyer Wind Tunnel NASA
15 23 1065 wright flyer replica

Wright Flyer Replica at the Henry Ford Museum

Frontiers of Flight Museum December 2015 109 (1903 Wright Flyer model)

Flyer replica at the Frontiers of Flight Museum

1903 Wright Flyer Fleming

Wright 1903 Flyer replica at the Lysdale Historic Hangar [1]


Portions of the original fabric and wood from the Flyer traveled to the surface of the moon aboard the Apollo 11 lunar module. This artifact is on display at the visitors center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.[29] Separate portions of original wood and fabric were taken by North Carolina native astronaut Michael Smith aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51-L which was destroyed on liftoff. The portions of wood and fabric were recovered from the wreck of the shuttle are on display at the North Carolina Museum of History[30]

430-L1-S1 640

Flyer wood and fabric taken aboard Apollo 11

Wright flyer fragments STS-51-L

Flyer wood and fabric taken aboard STS-51-L



A 1945 newsreel covering various firsts in human flight, including Wright Flyer footage

Specifications (Wright Flyer)

2001 NC Proof
North Carolina 50 State Quarter features the famous first flight photo of the 1903 Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 21 ft 1 in (6.43 m)
  • Wingspan: 40 ft 4 in (12.29 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)
  • Wing area: 510 ft² (47 m²)
  • Empty weight: 605 lb (274 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 745 lb (338 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × straight-4 water-cooled piston engine, 4 inches (102 mm) bore by 4 inches (102 mm) stroke.[3], 12 hp (8.9 kW), 170 lbs (77.11 kg), (2 x Wright "Elliptical" props, 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m), port prop carved to counter-rotate left, starboard prop carved to rotate to the right)


See also

Related development



  1. ^ a b "Telegram from Orville Wright in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to His Father Announcing Four Successful Flights, 1903 December 17". World Digital Library. 1903-12-17. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
  2. ^ a b c d "Exhibitions".
  3. ^ a b c d e The Aircraft Yearbook for 1919 (PDF). New York: Manufacturers Aircraft Association Inc. 1919. pp. 304–09.
  4. ^ "The Wright Brothers – Engine".
  5. ^ Lindberg, Mark. "Century of Flight." Archived 2012-06-04 at the Wayback Machine Wings of History Museum, 2003. Retrieved: August 27, 2011.
  6. ^ https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001696559/
  7. ^ "The Five First Flights." thewrightbrothers.org. Retrieved: July 23, 2008
  8. ^ Crouch. Tom D. "A Machine of Practical Utility." American Heritage, Winter 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2018
  9. ^ Gibbs-Smith, C.H. (11 May 1956). "Correspondence: The First Aileron". Flight: 598.
  10. ^ Culick, Fred E. C. (8–11 July 2001), What the Wright Brothers Did and Did Not Understand About Flight Mechanics—In Modern Terms (PDF), p. 5, Consistently with ignoring the condition of zero net [pitch] moment, the Wrights assumed that in equilibrium the canard carried no load and served only as a control device.
  11. ^ Anderson, Seth B. (September 1986), "A Look at Handling Qualities of Canard Configurations" (PDF), Journal of Guidance Control Dynamics, 10 (2): 8–9, Bibcode:1987JGCD...10..129A, doi:10.2514/3.20194, ... the Flyer was highly unstable ... The lateral/directional stability and control of the Flyer were marginal ...
  12. ^ Culick, Fred E. C. (26–29 September 2001), "Wright Brothers: First Aeronautical Engineers and Test Pilots" (PDF), AIAA Journal, 41 (6): 4, Bibcode:2003AIAAJ..41..985C, CiteSeerX, doi:10.2514/2.2046, ... the backward state of the general theory and understanding of flight mechanics hindered them ...
  13. ^ "History of the 1903 Wright Flyer". www.libraries.wright.edu. Wright State University Libraries Special Collection & Archives.
  14. ^ Taylor, Charles Edward. My Story Archived 2013-12-19 at the Wayback Machine, as told to Robert S. Ball, Collier's, 25 December 1948.
  15. ^ "Chapter 19: Why The Wright Plane Was Exiled". The Wright Brothers. Dayton History Books Online.
  16. ^ a b "1903 Wright Flyer". Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. 21 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Back to the Beginning", Flight, 28 October 1948, p.505.
  18. ^ "1942 Annual Report". Smithsonian Institution.
  19. ^ "Archived image". Archived from the original on August 17, 2002. Retrieved 2002-08-17.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) Glenn H. Curtiss.com Retrieved: January 21, 2011.
  20. ^ "Glenn H. Curtiss". Archived from the original on February 28, 2003. Retrieved 2003-02-28.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) Retrieved: January 21, 2011.
  21. ^ O'Dwyer, Major William J. History by Contract. Leutershausen, Germany: Fritz Majer & Sohn, 1978. ISBN 3-922175-00-7.
  22. ^ "Back to the Beginning" Flight October 28th, 1948 p506
  23. ^ Hallion 1978, p.55.
  24. ^ "Wright Flyer." Archived 2008-11-21 at the Wayback Machine Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved: January 21, 2011.
  25. ^ a b c d e Mikesh.
  26. ^ Preston, Shelley (9 December 2003). "Auburndale Man Re-Created the Wright Brothers' Plane". The Ledger. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  27. ^ Attempt to recreate Wright Bros flight fails (AP Archive)
  28. ^ "Wright Flyer Project". Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  29. ^ NASM Press Kit: The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age – News Media Photos." Archived 2008-11-21 at the Wayback Machine NASM. Retrieved: December 11, 2011.
  30. ^ "NC Cultural Resources Newsroom: Full-size Replica Wright Flyer Featured at N.C. Transportation Museum" Archived 2012-04-26 at the Wayback Machine, ncdcr.gov, December 10, 2009. Retrieved: December 11, 2011.


  • Hallion, Richard P. The Wright Brothers: Heirs of Prometheus. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 1978. ISBN 0-87474-504-7.
  • Hise, Phaedra. "In Search of the Real Wright Flyer." Air&Space/Smithsonian, January 2003, pp. 22–29.
  • Howard, Fred. Orville and Wilbur: The Story of the Wright Brothers. London: Hale, 1988. ISBN 0-7090-3244-7.
  • Jakab, Peter L. "The Original." Air&Space/Smithsonian, March 2003, pp. 34–39.
  • Mikesh, Robert C. and Tom D. Crouch. "Restoration: The Wright Flyer." National Air and Space Museum Research Report, 1985, pp. 135–141.
  • "The Wright Flyer", Flight, pp. 787–788, 11 December 1953

External links

Another Eden

Another Eden: The Cat Beyond Time and Space is a free-to-play role-playing video game developed by Wright Flyer Studios and published by GREE, Inc. The game features the collaboration of writer Masato Kato and music composer Yasunori Mitsuda who both worked on Xenogears and the Chrono series of role-playing games. Another Eden involves time travel elements, where players explore different points in time. It was self-published and released for Android and iOS in Japan in April 2017, and worldwide in January 2019. A port for the Nintendo Switch is also planned.


A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two main wings stacked one above the other. The first powered, controlled aeroplane to fly, the Wright Flyer, used a biplane wing arrangement, as did many aircraft in the early years of aviation. While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage over a monoplane, it produces more drag than a similar unbraced or cantilever monoplane wing. Improved structural techniques, better materials and the quest for greater speed made the biplane configuration obsolete for most purposes by the late 1930s.

Biplanes offer several advantages over conventional cantilever monoplane designs: they permit lighter wing structures, low wing loading and smaller span for a given wing area. However, interference between the airflow over each wing increases drag substantially, and biplanes generally need extensive bracing, which causes additional drag.

Biplanes are distinguished from tandem wing arrangements, where the wings are placed forward and aft, instead of above and below.

The term is also occasionally used in biology, to describe the wings of some flying animals.

Charles Rolls

The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls (27 August 1877 – 12 July 1910) was a Welsh motoring and aviation pioneer. With Henry Royce, he co-founded the Rolls-Royce car manufacturing firm. He was the first Briton to be killed in an aeronautical accident with a powered aircraft, when the tail of his Wright Flyer broke off during a flying display in Bournemouth. He was aged 32.

Flight endurance record

The flight endurance record is the longest amount of time an aircraft of a particular category spent in flight without landing. It can be a solo event, or multiple people can take turns piloting the aircraft, as long as all pilots remain in the aircraft. The limit initially was the amount of fuel that could be stored for the flight, but aerial refueling extended that parameter. Due to safety concerns, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) no longer recognizes new records for the duration of manned airplane or glider flights and has never recognized any duration records for helicopters.

Greater Cumberland Regional Airport

Greater Cumberland Regional Airport (IATA: CBE, ICAO: KCBE, FAA LID: CBE) is a public airport in the town of Wiley Ford (population 1,095) in Mineral County, West Virginia. It is two miles (3 km) south of Cumberland (population 21,518) in Allegany County, Maryland. Although the airport is in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia, the FAA lists this as a Maryland airport.On the second level of the airport terminal is the Cohongaronta Gallery (Cohongaronta being a Shawnee name for the Potomac River) with an array of displays on the history of the Potomac Highlands area. The centerpiece of the gallery is a 40% scale replica of the Wright Brothers 1903 Wright Flyer. A 70-foot-long (21 m) time line highlights dates and events for the Potomac Highlands region. The gallery is open to the public during terminal business hours.

H. Roy Waite

Henry Roy Waite (October 3, 1884 - December 18, 1978) was an aviation pioneer. He was one of the first aircraft inspectors for the United States Navy. He later restored the Wright Flyer for display in the Smithsonian.

List of National Historic Landmarks in Ohio

This is a List of National Historic Landmarks in Ohio and other landmarks of equivalent landmark status in the state. The United States' National Historic Landmark (NHL) program is operated under the auspices of the National Park Service, and recognizes structures, districts, objects, and similar resources according to a list of criteria of national significance. There are 76 NHLs in Ohio and four additional National Park Service-administered areas of primarily historic importance.

List of prone-pilot aircraft

Aircraft that require or required operation from a prone position:

Akaflieg Berlin B 9

Beecraft Wee Bee

Blohm & Voss BV 40

DFS 228

Gloster Meteor F8 "Prone Pilot"

Henschel Hs 132

Horten H.IV

Horten H.VI

Ikarus S-451

Lamson PL-1 Quark

Northrop XP-79

Reid and Sigrist R.S.3

Wright Flyer

Santos-Dumont 14-bis

The 14-bis (Quatorze-bis), also known as Oiseau de proie ("bird of prey" in French), was a pioneer era canard biplane designed and built by Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont. In 1906 near Paris the 14-bis made a manned powered flight that was the first to be publicly witnessed by a crowd and the first by an aeroplane outside the U.S.

Thomas Selfridge

Thomas Etholen Selfridge (February 8, 1882 – September 17, 1908) was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and the first person to die in an airplane crash. He was also the first Active Duty member of the U.S. military to die in a crash while on duty. He was killed while seated as a passenger in the Wright Flyer, on a demonstration flight piloted by Orville Wright.

Wing tip

A wing tip (or wingtip) is the part of the wing that is most distant from the fuselage of a fixed-wing aircraft.

Because the wing tip shape influences the size and drag of the wingtip vortices, tip design has produced a diversity of shapes, including:


Aluminium tube bow


Hoerner style


Drooped tips

Raked wingtips

Tip tanks



End platesWinglets have become popular additions to high speed aircraft to increase fuel efficiency by reducing drag from wingtip vortices. In lower speed aircraft, the effect of the wingtip shape is less apparent, with only a marginal performance difference between round, square, and Hoerner style tips The slowest speed aircraft, STOL aircraft, may use wingtips to shape airflow for controlability at low airspeeds.

Wing tips are also an expression of aircraft design style, so their shape may be influenced by marketing considerations as well as by aerodynamic requirements.

Wing tips are often used by aircraft designers to mount navigation lights, anti-collision strobe lights, landing lights, handholds, and identification markings.

Wing tip tanks can act as a winglet and distribute weight more evenly across the wing spar.

On fighter aircraft, they may also be fitted with hardpoints, for mounting drop tanks and weapons systems, such as missiles and electronic countermeasures. Wingtip mounted hose/drogue systems allow Aerial refueling of multiple aircraft with separation.

Aerobatic aircraft use wingtip mounted crosses for visual attitude reference. Wingtip mounted smoke systems and fireworks highlight rolling aerobatic maneuvers. Some airshow acts feature the pilot touching or dragging the wingtip along the ground.

Aircraft with a single main landing gear or very high aspect ratio wings such as gliders, may place small landing gear in the wingtips. Some uncommon designs,like the Rutan Quickie, and Convair XFY placed the main landing gear in the wingtips. Some early World War I aircraft used wooded skids on the wingtips to minimize damage on ground looping incidents.

Several amphibious aircraft such as the Consolidated PBY Catalina, use retractable wingtips as floats.

Moveable wingtips can affect the controlability of a wing. Wing warping the ends of the wing, produced roll control on the earliest of aircraft such as the Wright Flyer. The North American XB-70 Valkyrie raised and lowered its wingtips in flight to adjust its stability in supersonic and subsonic flight.

Wingtips can also house the power plant or thrust of an aircraft. The EWR VJ 101 used tip mounted jets, the V-22 uses tilting wingtip mounted engines, and the Harrier uses wingtip thrust for stability while hovering.

Rotary wing aircraft wingtips may be swept or curved to reduce noise and vibration. Some rotary wing aircraft place their propulsion in wingtip tip jets.

Wright Brothers Medal

The Wright Brothers Medal was conceived of in 1924 by the Dayton Section of the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the SAE established it in 1927 to recognize individuals who have made notable contributions in the engineering, design, development, or operation of air and space vehicles. The award is based on contributed research papers.The award honors Wilbur and Orville Wright as the first successful builders of heavier-than-air craft, and includes an image of the Wright Flyer, the plane which they flew in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Wright Flyer II

The Wright Flyer II was the second powered aircraft built by Wilbur and Orville Wright. During 1904 they used it to make a total of 105 flights, ultimately achieving flights lasting five minutes and also making full circles, which was accomplished by Wilbur for the first time on September 20.

Wright Flyer III

The Wright Flyer III was the third powered aircraft by the Wright Brothers, built during the winter of 1904-05. Orville Wright made the first flight with it on June 23, 1905. The Flyer III had an airframe of spruce construction with a wing camber of 1-in-20 as used in 1903, rather than the less effective 1-in-25 used in 1904. The new machine was equipped with the engine and other hardware from the scrapped Flyer II and—after major modifications—achieved much greater performance than Flyers I and II.

Wright Model B

The Wright Model B was an early pusher biplane designed by the Wright brothers in the United States in 1910. It was the first of their designs to be built in quantity. Unlike the Model A, it featured a true elevator carried at the tail rather than at the front. It was the last Wright model to have an open-frame tail. The Model B was a dedicated two-seater with the pilot and a passenger sitting side-by-side on the leading edge of the lower wing.

Besides their civil market, the Wrights were able to sell aircraft to the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps (S.C. 3, 4, and 5) and to the United States Navy as hydroplanes (AH-4, -5-, and -6), in which services they were used as trainers. Furthermore, the Wrights were able to sell licenses to produce the aircraft domestically (to the Burgess Company and Curtis, which designated it Model F), as well as in Germany. The deal with Burgess was the first license-production of aircraft undertaken in the United States and most of the approximately one hundred Model Bs produced were actually built by Burgess. A modified Model B, redesignated Model EX (for Exhibition) achieved fame as the Vin Fiz Flyer, the first aircraft to cross the United States. Burgess also planned a refined version as the Model G, but this was never built.

Wright brothers

The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American aviation pioneers generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft with the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904–05, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft, the Wright Flyer III. Although not the first to build experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

The brothers' breakthrough was their creation of a three-axis control system, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving "the flying problem". This approach differed significantly from other experimenters of the time who put more emphasis on developing powerful engines. Using a small homebuilt wind tunnel, the Wrights also collected more accurate data than any before, enabling them to design more efficient wings and propellers. Their first U.S. patent did not claim invention of a flying machine, but a system of aerodynamic control that manipulated a flying machine's surfaces.The brothers gained the mechanical skills essential to their success by working for years in their Dayton, Ohio-based shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles in particular influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle such as a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice. From 1900 until their first powered flights in late 1903, they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots. Their shop employee Charlie Taylor became an important part of the team, building their first airplane engine in close collaboration with the brothers.

The Wright brothers' status as inventors of the airplane has been subject to counter-claims by various parties. Much controversy persists over the many competing claims of early aviators. Edward Roach, historian for the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, argues that they were excellent self-taught engineers who could run a small company, but they did not have the business skills or temperament to dominate the growing aviation industry.

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