The Wright Brothers
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The Wright brothers, comprising of Orville, who lived from 1871 to 1948 and his brother Wilbur who lived between 1867 and 1912 were American citizens, who were also the inventors and the pioneers of aviation. These two brothers receive the general credit for inventing, building, and flying the first ever world’s successful aeroplane. They managed to do this by making the first controlled and sustained aeroplane that was powered and heavier than air back on December 17, 1903. This controlled flight managed to go four miles above the ground in the south of the Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Later on, in the year 1904-1905, these two brothers followed their first invention by going ahead to develop their flying machine into forming the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Even though they may not be the first ones to have built and flown an experimental aircraft, these two Wright brothers receive credit for being the first ones to have invented aircraft controls, which eventually made it possible to have fixed-wing powered flights (Sullivan, 2002). The paper thus discusses these two brothers by looking at their life history and their fundamental contribution to the aviation industry.
The Wright brothers were subject to raise up in Dayton, Ohio just a few years after the Civil War had ended. Their mother’s name was Susan Catherine Wright while their father was Bishop Milton Wright, serving as a minister in the United Brethren Church. Both of their parents had special talents, who were college-educated scholars that had passion towards learning. Particularly, their father was an intellectual whereas the mother was mechanically gifted. According to Hagler (2012), these two brothers later came to inherit these gifts and used them to their advantage as fostered by their life at home. Moreover, the Wright brothers became lifelong best friends, who always embraced the habit of confiding to each other their thoughts and plans. Through their life, the brothers always had a passion for mechanical things, such as flying toys that they had at childhood.
Right from the begging, these two brothers started their work of invention by building their printing press with the use of a tombstone and buggy parts and went ahead to print their newspaper. Later on, bicycling eventually became a big craze for them, which made them decide to venture into the bicycle business. In this bicycle business, they first started by repairing and modifying them, which made them wealthy as it worked well for them. While in Dayton, Ohio, a place that they lived, the winters were cold and this made the bicycle business to drop off. It thus meant that the two brothers had extra time to venture more towards their flying experiments.
From the beginning of time, people have been having interest towards flying. For example, back in the early 1500s, Leonardo da Vinci was able to do some designs for the flying machines (Hagler, 2012). Additionally, the early pioneers of aviation started by using gliders that sometimes resembled giant insects riding the breeze. However, the Wright brothers were able to solve the mechanical challenges that eventually made it possible for the aeroplanes to have controlled flights. The discoveries by the Wright brothers are still applicable in the aviation industry to date. As part of their discovery, they were able to come up with a successful wing design. Through their discovery, they came to the realization that wings had to tilt up and down just in the similar capacity with the wings on the buzzards that they had watched flying.
Their discovery started in the middle of the night when Orville did figure out that rudder attached at the back of their craft had the capacity to move. They also needed to design an engine that was lighter, discover a way to steer their craft, and a way to land it. Additionally, the two brothers also needed some courage and the right place for them to test their inventions. After gaining adequate courage, the right place for them to conduct their tests turned out to be Kitty Hawk, which was the Outer Banks of North Carolina. At this specific location, there was a frequent forceful wind on the Kill Devil Hills. This wind was subject to accompany with tonnes of sand that could facilitate a safe landing (Hobbs, 197).
The historic date was December 17, 1903, the day when Orville piloted the first historic flight. This flight managed to last for only 12 seconds, but it was incredibly revolutionary. Simultaneously, when Neil Armstrong made the historic landing on the moon, he also carried with him a piece of material obtained from the wing of this first ever plane, famously known as the Kitty Hawk. Wilbur and Orville Wright were responsible for starting the Age of Flight. This invention was more than a hundred years ago, and since their invention, nothing has ever been the same again. When these two brothers had finally achieved their goal of flying a powered flight, some people had little knowledge of what these brothers had done. Some even did find it hard into believing that a couple of “bicycle mechanics” at a place where some distinguished personalities had failed earlier. By 1908, the Wright brothers had managed to convince the public that they had indeed attained the goal of many other people had tried to reach and failed (Wadsworth, 2004).
Furthermore, at one point, Wilbur did manage to amaze the spectators on the ground through his act of flying around the Statue of Liberty. This was very shocking to observers that saw it for the first time. The experiment also required confidence for one to fly around a Statue of Liberty that was subject to make from the homemade flying machine. Most importantly, the Wright brothers were ambitious, curious, thoughtful, and brave when they dared to do the first flight experiment. It was not long after the Wrights’ success back in 1912 when Wilbur succumbed to typhoid fever aged at 45. Orville went ahead to sell the Wright Company, then built an aeronautics laboratory and returned into inventing. Orville also managed to stay in the public eye where he engaged actively at promoting aeronautics (Hobbs, 1971).
Through the life history of the Wright brothers, neither of them had attained a high school education. However, their contribution to the aviation industry remains unquestionable to date. The Wright brothers did manage to use knowledge of math and science that they had learned through life experience and family background into accomplishing an invention that is subject to consider as being the most influential achievement to have occurred in the 20th century. Some people would go ahead to argue that more education would have “ruined” the Wrights, but Orville went ahead to refute such views. On the contrary, Orville went ahead to state that better scientific education would have aided them towards doing their work more easily.
- Hagler, G. (2012). The Wright Brothers. Modeling Ships and Space Craft, 179-197. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-4596-8_9
- Hobbs, L. S. (1971). Wright brothers’ engines and their design. doi:10.5479/si.annalsflight.5
- Sullivan, G. (2002). The Wright brothers. New York: Scholastic Reference.
- Wadsworth, G. (2004). The Wright brothers. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co.