Written by the editors at Bamfacts - July 16th, 2016
Orville (August 19, 1871) and Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867) were born in Dayton, Ohio.
Father: Milton Wright, mother: Susan Catherine Koerner
Wilbur and Orville had five more siblings.
Milton Wright bought a toy helicopter for the two boys when they were children. This led to their fascination of aviation.
The two never received high-school diplomas, as their family suddenly moved from Ohio. Wilbur received his Diploma posthumously.
Orville dropped out of high school, and started his own printing business in 1989. Wilbur joined Orville shortly thereafter.
With the increased popularity of bicycles, the Wright brothers opened their bicycle repair shop (the Wright Cycle Exchange) in Dec. 1892, leaving the print shop.
At that time, many people had attempted flight with gliders and other contraptions, which inspired the brothers into making their own flying invention.
The bicycle repair shop was a success, and so the brothers funded their exploration in aviation with it.
Their first goal was to make a gliding vehicle, controlled by a pilot, before making a motor powered one.
They believed that flight control was the weak spot of flying inventions at the time, and that only a controlled glider would be successful...and safe.
They started experimenting at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1900. They chose the spot because of the privacy it offered, and its convenience of wind.
From 1900 to 1903, they made gliders that could:
A. establish leveled flight in one spot
B. change direction horizontally and vertically
In 1903 they completed constructing the Wright Flyer I (weight: 605 lb/274 kg), which costed only $1000 to build. It was their first motor powered airplane.
On December 17, 1903, Wilbur flew the Wright Flyer I for the first time. He flew a distance of 37 meters (120 ft.) for 12 seconds at a speed of 10.9 km/h (6.8 mph) at Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. They did another three flights that day (Orville made the longest flight, flying 59 seconds at a distance of 260 meters (852 ft.)).
Unfortunately, when the plane was parked on the ground, strong wind flipped it over and irreversibly damaged it.
Orville Wright did his best to restore it, and has borrowed it to many museums. Today it is located in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C, as of 1948.
During 1904, the brothers were advised by a patent attorney not to patent their work, as to prevent anybody from copying their discoveries in their own inventions.
They decided to close the bike repair shop to be able to focus more on airplanes. They also 'disappeared' from the public to avoid competitors finding out their secrets.
The two perfected their invention over time, until 1906, when they started to look for customers interested in an airplane.
However, they never publicly demonstrated flight, and never showed photographs to potential customers before a contract was signed, as they never filed a patent, and were afraid people would steal their invention.
The US government wasn't interested in their work, because they already had people working on airplanes. The Wright brothers instead decided to pursue Europe, specifically France.
In 1907, they decided to give public demonstrations, and so they made the Model A airplane, which Wilbur was going to fly in France, Europe, and Orville was going to fly another plane in the US.
After multiple public demonstrations, the brothers became celebrities in France, and secured contracts with French companies, as well as the US government.
In 1910 the Wright brothers opened the first flight training school (Wright Flying School), to train pilots for their customers. The school was open from 1910-1916 and trained approx. 120 pilots.
In 1909 the Wright Company was created. Its goal wasn't to manufacture airplanes, but to protect patents from rival companies (see http://wrightbrothers.info/).
Wilbur died on May 30, 1912 of typhoid fever (age 44)
Orville received full rights to the company after his brother's death, and sold the company on October 15, 1915, which has merged with the Glenn L. Martin Company in 1916.
Orville died on January 30, 1948 of a heart attack (age 76)