|The Airplane: Humankind's
“There are two loony Yankees down at Kitty Hawk trying to learn to fly, and they want to eat some lynhaven oysters before they die.” – A stranger from North Carolina
The Brothers Who Gave Wings to
The first powered airplane capable of controlled flight was built and flown in the United States by Orville and Wilbur Wright. The brothers, who were self taught mechanics and bicycle manufacturers, were born respectively in Dayton, Ohio and Millville, Indiana. Early in their lives they both showed a keen interest in machinery and in how things worked. The success of their future business ventures brought them enough capital to let them start developing their dream, a heavier-than-air, self powered flying machine (Feldman & Ford 250).How Nature Did It
The Wilbur brothers approached the problem carefully, practically, and methodically, beginning with observing the hanging flights of buzzards as well as birds’ controlled dives. By watching they realized that stability was not the only key element; control played a huge factor. Their project could only be under complete control if its three axes of movement (pitching up and down, rolling from side to side and yaw – the tendency of the plane to move either left or right) were studied carefully. By the time they built their third glider in 1902, they had mastered most of the problems concerned with steering and stability, including three-axis control (Feldman & Ford 250).
The brothers built both a far lighter gasoline engine than any in then in existance and an effective propeller. By 1903 they were ready to make a trial flight. An aircraft they called Flyer I (later renamed to Kitty Hawk) was taken to a flat piece of land in the Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. History was made December 17th when Orville, lying flat at the controls, piloted Flyer I for 12 seconds (Feldman & Ford 250).
After all that, the national and even local press didn’t care about this event. The brothers on the flip side gained the assurance that their work was on the right track. During 1904, they built and flew Flyler II, and the next year an even better plane was invented, Flyer III. Even after two more planes, the world did not pay attention. It was not until 1908 when Wilbur went to Europe to demonstrate their planes and achievement. When the public saw the demonstration all doubt left their eyes. But the brothers faced a major setback when Orville crashed when conducting trials. Orville suffered serious injuries but his passenger, Lt. Thomas Selfride died in the crash. However demonstrations continued and licenses were issued for production in Europe. The US Army saw that aircraft has great use in war and signed a contract with the brothers in 1909. For another two years, the Wright Brothers held their position as the world leader in airplane design, but then new patents and competitors rose. Nevertheless, the brothers achieved what was thought to be impossible. (Feldman & Ford 250-251) Present Day Uses of Aircraft
Air travel is the biggest transportation industry in the world today. Air travel inspired people to go farther than the atmosphere – they evolved the business into space travel. The X Planes now in development will take passengers around the world in a few hours compared to the Flyer I’s top speed of 45 MPH. (Feldman & Ford 250).References
Feldman, Anthony & Ford, Peter Scientists and Inventors. New York: Facts on File, 1979.