12 Facts About the First Powered Flight and the Wright Brothers

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12 Facts About the First Powered Flight and the Wright Brothers

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1. The first powered flight occurred on a Thursday at 10:35 in the morning of 17 December 1903 in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

2. The famous flight with Orville at the controls lasted 12 seconds and traveled a distance of 36.5 meters (120 ft) while Wilbur looks on (as seen in the famous historical photo).

3. After the successful flight which was well noted in history, the Wright Brothers made three more flights on the same day and achieved the longest which endured for almost a minute.

4. Prior to the successful flight of 17 December, the Wright Brothers made initial flights with the Wright Flyer with Wilbur at the controls but it was unsuccessful and incurred damage to the aircraft.

5. The Wright Flyer based on the no. 3 glider design patented by the Wright Brothers on 23 March 1903 was pushed by two chain driven propellers mounted on the rear of the wings.

6. The Wright Flyer has a wingspan of 12.3 m (40.3 ft) and the engine attached to it was weighed at 82 kg (180 lbs) making an overall weight of 274 kg (605 lb).

7. The Wright Brothers’ engine was an inline piston type of 12 horsepower which they designed by themselves and built by Charlie Taylor, their shop mechanic under their close supervision.


8. Another key design which made the Wright Brother’s aircraft successful was the invention of three axis control which allowed the pilot to maneuver the aircraft and maintain balance. They applied for a U.S. patent no. 821,393 which has a claim for a system of aerodynamic control for controlling an aircraft.

9. The adoption of a piston engine which was at its early stages at the time became another breakthrough which allowed the Wright Brothers to provide continuous power to drive the propellers. A piston engine was at every aspect advantageous than the widely used steam engines of that time which has a poor power to weight ratio.

10. The Wright Brothers also improvised their own wind tunnel tests to test wings and propellers which would seem too advanced at that time. The very reason why they made efficient results with their flight tests.

11. The Wright Brothers met no greater contradiction in their efforts than their father, Milton Wright, a church minister who made the famous statement “It is impossible for men in the future to fly like birds. Flying is reserved for the angels. Do not mention that again lest you be guilty of blasphemy.”

12. Orville was thirty two years old and Wilbur was thirty six years old when they made that record setting flight that ultimately ushered mankind to the future conquering the skies. They devoted their life so much to the effort of perfecting man’s “self designed wings” to the extent that they never married.


The Complete Book of Flight

pp. 34-35, The Complete Encyclopedia of Flight (1848-1939) by John Batchelor and Malcolm V Lowe




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