The Wright Brothers Race to Flight
Writer's Workshop 7/8
Flight is a key part of all of our lives, and living in a world without it is hard to imagine. The Wright brothers where the first people to create sustainable controllable flight. These young engineers were part of the race to the skies that led us to the flight power that we control today. The Wright brothers are two American inventors whose technological advancements in aviation have transformed the world by designing, building, and flying the first successful airplane.
Wilbur and Orville wright were born, Wilbur April 16, 1867, and Orville on August 19, 1871. They were raised in Dayton, Ohio by their parents Milton Wright and Susan Catherine Koerner with 5 other siblings. The two brothers grew up together sharing a passion for science and engineering. When in high school Wilber aspired to go to Yale and study to be a clergyman. Unfortunately, he had a facial injury while playing ice hockey and started homeschooling. He read books from his family's prolific library and had medical attention. This time he spent In the library engaged him with books about aviation and flight scientists who in the future would be role models and inspiration for his flight career.
The Wright brothers engineering craze stated before building their plane. In 1888 Orville Wright dropped out of high school and pursued his dream and started a printing shop. He designed a printing press, built it, and released the first newspaper in 1889. The brothers continued the paper for a year and then stopped. Tragically, that same year Susan, the brother’s mother died of severe tuberculosis. After the death of their mother, Wilbur and Orville Wright pursued a shared interest and started a bicycle shop. The Wright Cycle Exchange was opened in 1895 on West Third St. in Dayton Ohio. The brother’s sold and fixed bicycles and even started manufacturing their own designs in 1896. The bicycle shop started during the beginning of a new bicycle craze over the safety bike. The safety bike is what we see as a normal bike today, it has the same size wheels. This design was much easier to mount and ride than the ordinary bicycle of the time. Coincidentally, that the same year a huge cycling race with thousands of competitors. The race took place near the shop and the business boomed.
With the Wright brothers previous engineering experience and their access to aviation news, they were able to find role models and information on the subject. In august 1896, the wright brothers heard of the death of famous German aviator Otto Lilienthal. He died in a glider crash of one of his plane prototypes. This event sparked a goal in the eyes of the wright brothers to be the first to make a successful airplane. Their previous experience with engineering and design helped them prototype and design their first iteration glider. Their first iteration is the first step these young men took to become the change makers we know today .Their first prototype was a five foot glider kite. It was made in 1899 to test their concept of wing warping to steer the plane. It was wildly successful. The second iteration of the Wright Flyer was completed 1900. It was big enough to carry a human being but first flown with no passenger, like a kite, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The gliders main body was based off Octave Chanute's two-surface glider, and the wing airfoils were based off Otto Lilienthal two surface glider designs. Octave Chanute and Otto Lilienthal were pioneers of flight. These european aeronauts where probably the biggest role models to the brothers. Eventually Wilbur made about a dozen free flights and the glider was retired.
The Wright brothers plane is what they are best known for, the design and build of the incredible machine was a revolutionary moment in the history of transportation. The third iteration of the Wright Flyer was similar to their second iteration but had much larger wings. It was first flown on July 27th, 1901 and had 50 to 100 free flights in its lifetime until it was retired August, 1901. The fourth iteration of their plane was another free-flight craft (non motorized). It was an innovation because they were using a new method to steer. The aircraft had a rudder on the back to steer left and right. This iteration of the Wright Flyer is what lead to the finished product and was the most successful. They made an estimated 700-1000 glides and got to speeds of around 24 feet per second. This glider weighed 117 lbs, was 16 feet long, and had a wingspan of 32 feet.
The Wright brothers had now become master airplane designers and builders. Finally, In 1903, while the Wright brothers were building the final flyer. Wilbur and Orville Wright got out the fourth iteration glider and flew over 200 free flights to hone their piloting skills before the Flyer was finished. Finally, in 1903 the final iteration of the Flyer was completed. THis plane was motorised, had a rudder and was big enough to carry 2 people. The Flyer was the first successful heavier-than air powered aircraft to achieve controlled sustained flight. It was first flown december 17th near Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Today the flyer 1 is exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. These planes were the brothers life for many years. They are change makers because of their hard work to achieve the impossible.
Even throughout their challenges the Wright Brothers persevered and accomplished their childhood goal of designing, building, and flying the first successful airplane. These heros hit challenge when their models broke and when their mother died. They fought obstacles when they thought it was impossible and almost gave up. The reason these two brothers are change makers is because of their drive and perseverance through these hard moments. The work they did has given them a name in history and changed transportation forever.
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