Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
A Short History Of The Wright Flyer Airplane
The story of the first heavier than air aircraft, "Flyer 1", as dubbed by its inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright, is a fascinating saga.
Orville and Wilbur Wright were successful businessmen, printers by trade, in Dayton, Ohio. There they published the West Side News, which was edited by Wilbur. They followed this success by opening a bicycle shop in 1992. In this shop they began selling bicycles made by tools which they had invented.
The Wrights had been fascinated with the idea of flight since they were boys. The studied the progress of Otto Lienthal and others working on the science of avation at the time. And the bicycle shop provided them with a place to design and build gliders, which they began testing at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1900. The location was a place called Kill Devil Hill, the first test flight coming in September of that year. Kitty Hawk was chosen because of the winds off the ocean.
They continued constructin g gliders for the next two years, the final tests coming in 1902. The design of the glider flown that year was the direct ancestor of the Wright Flyer airplane to be successfully flown the next year.
By 1903 Flyer I was ready and so were the Wright brothers. The Wright Flyer was of a design called a Canard. The pilot flew the airplane lying on his belly on the bottom wing, his head facing forward. The plane was steered by a cradle attached to the pilots hips. The cradle was attached to cables which warped the wings, steering the plane. On the first flights on December 17, 1903, no steering was attempted. The Wright Flyer only flew in straight lines that day. The Flyer weighed 750 pounds and used a twelve horsepower engine built specially for the airplane by Charlie Taylor, an employee. Mr Taylor built the engine in six weeks from scratch, working without a drawing.
The Wright Flyers first airplane flight was made by Orville. They had tossed a coin, won by Wilbur, three days earlier, had resulted in a crash which took three days to repair. So on December 17, the Wright Flyer stood on its 2 X 4 track, nicknamed the "Junction Railroad" by the Wrights, and after Orville spun the propellor and started the motor, Wilbur took off for the very first powered aircraft flight, which lasted twelve seconds and went 120 feet. The propellor, by the way, was also a Wright brother design.
There were three more flights that day, one of which had two very bumpy landings when the airplane bounced off the ground and finally settled. The last flight the Wright Flyer's the front elevator' supports were damaged.
The Wrights crated the Flyer up after the test flights that year and placed it in storage. It was damaged in a flood, and repaired by Orville in 1916 and placed on display. The airplane is still on public display, having been restored in 1985 to repair damage sustained by years of exposure.
© 2012 Hobby Hobnob
History of Flight and Avaition