The Wright Brothers First Flight Facts & Information
The Wright Brothers were two American brothers who are highly regarded as the pioneers of aviation (flying). They are famous for being the first people to invent, create and fly an airplane, which they successfully did in December 1903 in North Carolina. See the fact file below for more information on the Wright Brothers’ first flight:
- The Wright Brothers were Orville and Wilbur Wright. They were born in 1871 and 1867 in the USA.
- The Wright Brothers invented and built the first ever powered airplane. The airplane was heavier than air meaning it needed a motor to get it off the ground – unlike the gliders the brothers had been flying previously.
- The Wright Brothers’ first flight occurred on a beach just south of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina on December 17, 1903.
- The Wright Brothers are also credited for solving the ‘flying problem’ when they invented the ‘3-axis control’ that meant pilots were able to steer their airplanes whilst in flight.
- Prior to the first powered airplane, the brothers used to fly gliders. Each glider that they built had a different wingspan or a different wing shape in hope that each glider would become more aerodynamic and stay up in the air for longer.
- The Wright Brothers made more than 700 flights in their gliders.
- The Wright Brothers built their first powered plane in 1903 and called it the ‘Wright Flyer I’. It was made of spruce wood and muslin and had wooden propellers that the brothers carved themselves. Their mechanic made a lightweight engine.
- The Wright Flyer I had a wingspan of 12.3 m. It weighed 274kg and it had a 8.9 kW engine.
- The Wright Flyer I cost less than $1000 to build.
- On December 14, 1903, Wilbur Wright attempted to make a 3 second trial flight but caused damage to the airplane and it had to be repaired. Wilbur said the flight was ‘only a partial success’.
- On December 17, 1903, after the airplane was repaired the Wright Brothers made their famous first and second flights. The first flight by Orville lasted 12 second and was 37m in the air.
- On the day of the first flight the weather was very windy, with icy gusts of 43km/h.
- Orville Wright’s first flight was recorded with a photograph and is the one most commonly used in textbooks.
- The Wright Flyer I made 4 flights in total. On its fourth flight a gust of wind caused the plane to flip over and it was severely damaged. The plane could not be flown again.
- The Wright Flyer I is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
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