Wright Brothers: Pioneers in Aviation | Flying Magazine

Wright Brothers: Pioneers in Aviation

A look back at the life of the Wright brothers who helped pave the way for aviation today as we know it.

For more on how the Wright brothers achieved their success, check out Peter Garrison's article here.

To see some of aviation's other notable pioneers, be sure to check out our 51 Heroes of Aviation photo gallery here.

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Brothers, inventors and aviation pioneers, Orville and Wilbur Wright are most famously credited for making the first successful powered and sustained human flight. They were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

(Photo: Orville, left; Wilbur, right)

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Wilbur Wright was born on April 16, 1867, near Millville, Indiana.

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Orville Wright was born on August 19, 1871, near Dayton, Ohio.

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The Wrights journeyed to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1900 to start their manned gliding experiments. They based the design of their gliders on work done in the 1890s by other aviation pioneers, such as the Chanute-Herring biplane hang glider (or "double-decker"). Shown here is Orville Wright with their 1901 glider.

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Orville Wright making a turn in their third glider in 1902. This maneuver wasn't possible in the two previous gliders.

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The 1902 glider led directly to the design of the powered Wright Flyer, which first flew on December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

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Orville Wright was at the controls of the Wright Flyer while his brother Wilbur looked on during the airplane's first flight.

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The mechnical work done at their bicycle shop, Wright Cycle Company, helped give them the necessary skills to make their flying machine a success. One of their shop employees, Charlie Taylor, would later become an important part of their team, helping the brothers building their first airplane engine.

(Photo: Wilbur Wright working in their bicycle shop)

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Wilbur Wright checks the wind speed prior to a flight in Europe in 1909. The Flyers' light weight made them vulnerable to wind, and many flights were cancelled when conditions were not perfect.

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On November 9, 1904, Wilbur kept the Wright Flyer II aloft for just over 5 minutes. The flight over Huffamn Prairie in Dayton, Ohio, was the best and longest flight of the year.

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In 1905, Orville piloted the Wright Flyer III over Huffman Prairie in Dayton, Ohio. This flight covered about 21 miles in 33 minutes and 17 seconds.

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Orville Wright demonstrated the Flyer for the U.S. Army at Fort Myer, Virginia, in 1908. The aircraft was put through several trials to prove its performance.

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A photograph of the Wright brothers taken on September 29, 1909.

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By 1910, the Wright brothers were manufacturing two airplanes a month. In this photo, they are attending an air meet in Belmont, New York, where they introduced the Wright Model B — their most popular model.

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