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Wright brothers

The Wright Brothers, Orville Wright (1871 - 1948) and Wilbur Wright (1867 - 1912), invented powered heavier-than-air flight.

The brothers grew up in Dayton, Ohio, where they ran a bicycle shop. Drawing on the work of Sir George Cayley, they extended the technology of flight with the principles of control still used today. They had researched and initially relied upon the aeronautical literature of the day, including Otto Lilienthal[?]'s tables but, finding that they had errors, designed and built a wind tunnel to perform practical tests.

In 1903 they went to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to continue their aeronautical work, choosing Kitty Hawk (actually Kill Devil Hill) because of its strong and steady winds, and on March 23, 1903 they applied for a patent for their airplane design. Then on December 17, 1903 Orville Wright took to the air. Orville's uncontrolled flight, of 120 feet in 12 seconds, was recorded in a famous photograph. In the fourth flight of the same day, the only made that day which was actually controlled, Wilbur Wright flew 852 feet in 59 seconds. (See: http://www.thewrightbrothers.org/fivefirstflights )

The Wright brothers invited only a few witnesses to their early flights, in order to protect their patent rights.

The Wrights established a flying field at Huffman Prairie, near Dayton, Ohio, and continued work in 1904, using a a catapult takeoff system to compensate for the lack of wind in this location. By the end of the year, the Wright brothers had sustained flights of 5 minutes, circling over Huffman Prairie.

Controversy in the credit for invention of the airplane has been fueled by the Wrights' secrecy while their patent was prepared, by the pride of nations, and by the number of firsts made possible by the basic invention. See Aviation history.

See Paul Laurence Dunbar for the Wrights' contributions to the career of the distinguished African American poet.

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