How the Wright Brothers Invented the Airplane in 1903

The inventors of the airplane, popularly known as the Wright Brothers, were inspired by a gift. The gift made a big impression in their lives. The gift was one of the things that built the Wright Brothers’ consciousness towards an invention that shakes the history of aviation. Their greatness did not happen overnight; it was as a result of cumulative progress that was sparked by a gift their father bought for them.

Milton Wright: The Father of Aviation Pioneers

Milton Wright, who later became the father of aviation pioneers, the Wright Brothers, was born in 1828, in Indiana, United States of America, into the family of Dan Wright and Catherine Wright. Milton met his lovely wife, Susan, at Hartsville College in 1853. He became supervisor of the preparatory department in that college where his wife was a student of literature.

Milton Wright (1829-1917)
Milton Wright (1829-1917), father of aviation pioneers, the Wright Brothers/Smithsonian.

After a long courtship, they married in 1859 when he was almost 31 and she was 28. Milton and Susan were curious about knowledge that they created around themselves the habit of learning.

Milton Wright was purposeful in his commitment to God’s work. He was passionate about addressing the political and moral challenges of his time, including speaking against alcoholism, slave trade, and secret societies such as Freemasonry. He believed that God does not approve of these vices. To address these problems, he joined the Church of the United Brethren in Christ in 1846.

He served as the pastor of the church from 1855 and was later ordained in 1856 as a pastor in Andersonville, Indiana. Since then he was transferred from one church to another in the course serving God until he became the editor a weekly church newspaper known as the Religious Telescope. His impacts as an editor was a major resume that earn him the position of a bishop in 1877.

The Gift of a Flying Toy

Wilbur (1867-1912) and Orville Wright (1871-1948) lived in Dayton, Ohio. Their mother, Susan, the daughter of a wagon maker, was a very creative woman – a toymaker. She used her skills in toy making to make toys for Wilbur and Orville. The reason was to encourage their curiosity towards science and build their technical knowledge. Their father, Bishop Wright would buy the toys as gifts.

In 1878 he brought home a small wooden toy that ignited the imaginative consciousness of the Wright Brothers which determined the history of aviation.

The 1903 Wright Flyer
The 1903 Wright Flyer/NASA.

The toy, designed by French aeronautical experimenter, Alphonse Pénaud, was like a helicopter. The wooden toy, known as the Flying Bat, was made with two twisted rubber bands to turn a small propeller. It did not simply fall to the ground as expected when operated to fly, rather it flew across the room till it hit the ceiling and finally fell to the ground.

The Wright Brothers were thrilled that they played with the flying toy for long until it broke. It was a problem they created that they later fixed by making new copies of the toys themselves. That was a sign that their greatest dream was becoming a reality at a tender age.

According to Orville Wright, the childhood toy sparked their interest in flight and the successful invention of the airplane. They started making merchandise out of their creative ability by making new copies of toys and sold to their friends, including handmade kites.

Wright Cycle Company

The Wright Brothers had become a product of a healthy learning habit inherited from their parents. They had grown in scientific understanding and strived to add value and make a fortune out of it. In 1892 they found a company, the Wright Cycle Company. Repairs, selling, and renting of bicycles were major business activities of the company.

The brothers were anxious although the business was going well. Two events of 1896 made them to focus more on their energies; Otto Lilienthal ‘s death, the celebrated glider experimenter, in a flying accident, and Samuel Langley’s successful, unmanned launch of powered models.

These two men’s creativeness and creativity were well and truly recorded. Fortunately, the bicycle company supplied the funds for this new venture because, unlike those in aviation, none funded the Wright brothers. Moreover, fixing and producing bicycles sharpened their mechanical skills.

The Wright brothers also used the same equipment and techniques used in restoring bicycles in their construction of the flying machines. Many of their experiments were performed in their shop’s backroom and most of the parts used in the first prototype airplane were installed there.

The First Successful Flight

Several people planned to successfully invent the airplane hundreds of years ago but failed. The Wright Brothers thought that making history is putting their efforts in their plane dream in an unconventional way.

They took notes of where their predecessors failed and used it to their own advantage. Even though the whole idea of flying seemed impossible to the populace, they thought it possible by putting extraordinary effort in making it possible. They chose to be more systematic in their approach by performing rigorous test to know if their assumption works.

Orville and Wilbur Wright The Brothers Who Changed Aviation
Orville and Wilbur Wright: The Brothers Who Changed Aviation/India Today.

On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur, the Wright Brothers, assembled their most ambitious plane, nicknamed the ‘Flyer I,’ on the sand on Kitty Hawk. The Flyer I weighed over 600 pounds and had an impressive wingspan of 40 feet.

The Wright Brothers knew that they had to get this test right with winter approaching, or else they would have to wait for many, many months of bad weather before they could try again. The brothers then flipped a coin to see who the first pilot will be. It turned out to be Orville.

Wilbur then guided the plane down the short wooden ramp with his brother at the controls, and raised it into the air. It stayed airborne for twelve seconds and flew just 120 feet, but Orville and Wilbur were ecstatic. Their plane did work! Both brothers had made successful flights by the end of the day, with Wilbur having reached a remarkable 852 feet in 59 seconds.

The Wright Brothers left Kitty Hawk that day having done the impossible. They did leave an indelible mark in the history of aviation, inspired by a father’s toy gift to his adorable children.

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