Brian Williams: Hi! Iím Brian Williams. Today I have the two famous Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright with me. Wilbur and Orville are famous because they flew the first airplane and also built it. Hi, guys, and welcome.
Wilbur and Orville: Hi! Thank you.
Brian: So guys I heard that a so-called "bat" toy inspired you. Is this true?
Wilbur: Yes, thatís true. Our father gave it to Orvy here for his birthday one year. The bat toy was a toy that flew. It was made of bamboo, paper and cork. It was powered by a twisted rubber band. The twisted rubber bands made it work by pulling the fans to make them spin when you threw the toy up in the air. When it broke we made new ones over and over again. The smaller the model of the bat, the better it flew. Orville and I think that the bigger models of the bat toy didnít fly as well because it weighed more than the smaller ones. Therefore the smaller ones had less weight to carry and flew better and easier.
Brian: I understand that you guys did more than just make airplanes. Tell me some of the other things you guys have done in your career.
Orville: When I was 10 I made and sold kites. This business lasted for a while and I made some good money. When I was 18 I left high school to build a printing press. I later joined Wilbur in the print shop and we published a daily newspaper. Shortly after we opened the printing press shop, we got interested in bicycles. We got so interested in bicycles that we asked my old friend Eddie Sines to help us out by working at the printing press shop. We did this because we had then decided to open a bicycle repair shop. We called our bicycle repair shop, "Wright Cycling Company." Our bicycle shop was located in Dayton, Ohio. This idea came about when a lot of our neighbors came over to ask us if we could fix their bikes. We had so many bikes to fix that we decided to open our bicycle shop and it was a great success! One thing that we liked the best about our bicycle shop was that we now had the room to fix the bicycles and also build our gliders and airplanes.
Brian: How did you guys go from repairing bicycles to building and flying airplanes?
Wilbur: We read about Otto Lilienthal and his gliding experiments. Soon after that we began reading everything we could about flying. We were sad when we heard that he died in a gliding accident. After he died we decided to continue his work. Thatís how we got back to being interested in flying.
Brian: I heard something about a newspaper that you guys printed daily. Was I hearing right?
Wilbur: Yes. Orville and I had our own newspaper that we printed and wrote when we were teenagers. We called it The West Side News. I wrote most of the stories but Orville did his fair share to get the newspaper printed daily while we had it.
Brian: Do you think that your airplanes and flights will be remembered?
Orville: Yes! Well, at least I hope so. I think our flights affected peopleís lives. We invented a machine that could someday help people get around faster and have an easier way to travel long distances. Our machines will be remembered for helping people visit places that they may never have been able to visit.
Brian: Wilbur, tell me about some of your flights.
Wilbur: Our first flight was on Dec. 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on Kill Devilís Hill. On that flight Orville was up 12 seconds and actually flew a glider 100 feet! The problem was that it didnít stay up very long, so we developed a gasoline engine to put inside the plane. We were able to stay up longer because the gasoline engine powered propellers much like the bat toyís propellers we played with when we were younger. Another problem we had was that some of the parts of the plane werenít very strong. But all we did to fix that problem was simply find and build stronger parts. Our longest flight on the day we made the first flight was the one when I flew the plane 852 feet in 59 seconds! Our longest flight ever was in 1905 when we flew the plane 24 miles!
Brian: Sadly, three years after this interview was taped Wilbur Wright died of typhoid fever. Orville was alive longer, but neither one is with us today. But we will never forget all those flights, especially the first one. Another thing that nobody will forget is their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio where they built their airplanes. The Wrightís bicycle shop is now on display at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. Thank you for watching this Wright Brothers special. Until tomorrow, Iím Brian Williams. Good night.
Wright Brothers Timeline
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