Were the Wright Brothers really the first to fly?
January 15, 2007 1:58pm CST
Wilbur and Orville Wright weren't just lucky to make the first flight. They played with flying paper models in their youth, and by 1901 they had made hundreds of wind tunnel tests. In 1902, their glider was the biggest flying machine ever built. Orville Wright wrote, "We now hold all the records! The largest machine...the longest time in the air, the smallest angle of descent, and the highest wind!" They called on the machine making skills of Charles E. Taylor, and by February 1903 they had an engine. By June, they had built a propeller. They headed for Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in September to build their Flyer. On Monday 13 December 1903, a toss of a coin gave Wilbur the honour of making the first flight. The engine and propeller powered the plane, the Flyer lifted off but immediately sank down, slightly damaged. First flight? By Friday 17 December 1903, the Flyer was fixed, and at 10h35, Orville made the first powered flight. It lasted 12 seconds. Wilbur made the second flight, which lasted less than a second longer than the first. Orville took the 3rd flight, covering 60 metres (200 ft) in 15 seconds. At noon, Wilbur made the fourth flight on that blustery day. The Flyer covered 255,6 metres (852 ft) in 59 seconds. He landed safely, but a sudden gust of wind sent the plane tumbling, breaking the wings and damaging the motor. There would be no more flights in 1903. There were 5 men to witness the Wright Brothers' flights. Orville even set up a camera so that a Mr Daniels could take photographs. But there were no newspaper men. In the Spring of 1904, they built a new plane and invited the press. The weather was not quite right, but since the reporters were there, they tried anyway. The plane failed to lift off. The Wright Brothers didn't make the papers. They did fly again but spent the rest of their lives fighting about their patent and died without knowing the world finally recognised their work. In 1914, the Franklin Institute became the first scientific institution to recognise the Wright Brothers' achievement. But were the Wright Brothers really the first to fly? By the time the Wright brothers got their flyer up in the air, flying was a hobby for New Zealand farmer Richard Pearse. Working single-handedly in his barn, he designed and built his own engine and flying machine. Datings suggest that Pearse made his first flight in March 1902. His remarkable success remained unknown until fairly recently. But there is an account of an even earlier flight... "Two years, four months and three days before the successful flights of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, a birdlike monoplane took to the air at early dawn on August 14, 1901, near Bridgeport, Connecticut, carrying its inventor and builder, Gustave Whitehead, a distance of approximately a half mile." - Megan Adam, descendant of Gustave A. Whitehead. Although there are no blueprints of Whitehead's craft, evidence is mounting that Whitehead might indeed have been the first to have taken to the sky in a machine-powered aircraft.
1 person likes this
18 Mar 13
i remember that wright brothers is featured in the world history,i think the wright brothers who made first flight because they were the one who recognized by the institution,but still we are all thankful to them because of them we have it good transportation.