Friday, 13 February 2015

The Wright Brothers


Orville Wright, in 1901, at the right end of an upended glider.


Wilbur, after an unsuccessful trial, on December 14, 1903.


Over 111 years ago, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville Wright, with the help of his brother Wilbur, piloted the first airplane. The brothers, who began experimenting with flight, in 1896, at their bicycle shop, had experimented with gliders and kites, but only achieved sustained flight once they added a small engine to their machines. (Their first trip lasted just twelve seconds and travelled a hundred and twenty feet.) While many of their competitors focussed on engine strength, the Wright brothers put their efforts into developing three-axis control, a reliable method of piloting that gave them a competitive edge.


Have a look at the link below to see more photographs. These photographs—which the Wright brothers’ estate donated to the Library of Congress after Orville’s death in 1948 (Wilbur died in 1912)—are glass-plate negatives taken mostly by the brothers themselves, who were careful to document their experiments in order to preserve a record for future patent claims. The photograph of their first flight was taken by John T. Daniels, a member of the Kitty Hawk Life-Saving Station, who was recruited by Orville and had never before seen a camera in his life.