Orville and Wilbur Wright are credited as the first men who built an aircraft capable of manned controlled flight. The first manned flight by airplane (powered, controlled and heavier than air) occurred on  December 17, 1903,  when Orville flew at 120 feet (37 m) over the ground for 12 seconds, at a speed of only 6.8 miles per hour (10.9 km/h). Introductions are rather unnecessary, though.  For more on how the Wright brothers started their work and an informative historical timeline of their achievements, I’d recommend you read this Wikipedia entry.

The Wright brothers worked fundamentally different from other manned flight pioneers of their time. While others concentrated on fitting stronger engines and making more tests, Orville and Wilbur preferred to tackle on aerodynamics instead. The brothers built their own wind tunnel and extensively carried out aerodynamic tests. This eventually lead to the advent of the three-axis control system: wing-warping for roll (lateral motion), forward elevator for pitch (up and down) and rear rudder for yaw (side to side). This was indispensable for the pilot to have control and thus both better flight performance and avoid accidents which were so often at the time.

Some scholars agree that the 1902 glider was the most revolutionary aircraft ever created and the real embodiment of the genius of Orville and Wilbur Wright. Although the addition of a power plant to their 1903 Flyer resulted in their famous first flight, some scholars regard that improvement as a noteworthy addition to something that was truly a work of genius – the 1902 glider..

For your consideration we’ve curated some of the most amazing photographs featuring the Wright brothers and their creations – various historical flights like the very first take off at Kitty Hawk, model gliders including 1902 and 1903 versions, mid-air shots and other fantastic vintage relics that tell of a time just a century ago when people daring to fly were labeled as mad.

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