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Discovering kites could fly in the air got humans thinking about the possibility of flying. Colourful kites were used by the Chinese in religious ceremonies although more sophisticated models were used to test weather conditions. Kites were key in the invention of flight as they led the way for balloons and gliders. The first real studies of flight were produced by the famous inventor Leonardo da Vinci in the s.

He was fascinated by birds in flight and closely observed how their bodies worked while flying, producing over drawings that illustrated his theories on flight. Although it was never built, Leonardo designed the Ornithopter flying machine.


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It was a very clever design that showed just how man could fly and the modern day helicopter is in fact based on this concept! The first hot air balloon was designed by brothers Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier in the s. They used the smoke from a fire to blow hot air into a silk bag, which was attached to a basket.

The hot air then rose and allowed the balloon to float.

The Wright Stuff - The Life of The Wright Brothers - Part 1

Their first passengers weren't of the human variety! In , a sheep, rooster and a duck climbed aboard. The colourful balloon climbed to a height of about 6, feet and traveled more than a mile. The brothers went from strength to strength and made their first manned flight on November 21, , with two passengers. George Cayley was the brains behind the first glider that could actually go short distances, built in He spent 50 years making improvements to the gliders, changing their wing shape and adding tails. He also realised that there would be a need for power if a flying machine was to be in the air for a long time.

German engineer, Otto Lilienthal , became known as the 'Glider King'! He studied aerodynamics and was the first person to design a glider that could fly a person and long distances. The Wright brothers said he was a major inspiration. Like Da Vinci, Otto based his studies on birds and how they fly.

In , he wrote a book on aerodynamics. The Wright Brothers used this as the basis for their designs. Berlin's busiest airport is named after Lilienthal. The Wright Brothers first tested their ideas of flight with a kite. They learned about how the wind would help with the flight and how it could affect the surfaces once up in the air. Time and dedication were key! The brothers spent three years testing and learning about how gliders could be controlled. They designed and used a wind tunnel to test the shapes of the wings and the tails of the gliders.

Once they had perfected the glider shape, they then set to creating a propulsion system that would create the thrust needed to fly. Amazingly the first engine they designed generated almost 12 horsepower, the same power as two hand-propelled lawn mower engines!

On December 17, , the 'Flyer' travelled feet in 12 seconds with Orville as pilot , but it was unstable and difficult to control. The Wright brothers spent two more years perfecting their design.


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Use your knowledge of the Wright brothers' aircraft to build your own plane online. Report on the Wright brothers' first flight by writing your own eye-witness account. Complete a NASA paper airplane challenge. Try making your own loop airplane. Download a Wright brothers activity and resource book. The How Things Fly page on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum website is packed with activities: explore wing shapes and the other factors affecting lift, take an aeroplane Distance Challenge, practise flying with a Controlled Flight simulator and build a rocket.

America by Air : interactive activities about the history of flight. Engineering the Wright Way is an online game. Understand more about the Wright airplane designs. Look at posters advertising air travel in the early 20th century. Explore the history of flight in an interactive timeline of aviation history.

Wright brothers

Information about the early years of air transportation. Read about the history of aircraft on the DK findout! Find out more about the Wright brothers and their achievements in a biography for children. Find lots of information about the Wrights' first flight. Look at all the different aircraft humankind has produced. Discover more about how the Wright brothers invented their flying machine. Flight facts explained for kids. Learn more about airplane anatomy and the Wright Flyer. Northern Ireland has a long history of pioneering aviation.

Both Orville and Wilbur fondly recalled when, in , their father brought home a toy helicopter powered by a rubber band. Rather it "flew across the room till it struck the ceiling, where it fluttered awhile, and finally sank to the floor. Orville later credited this childhood toy as being the object that sparked their original interest in flight. They continued their bicycle business for the next two years, but mastery of flight weighed heavy on their minds.

Orville Wright - Death, Wright Brothers & Life - Biography

In , Orville and Wilbur began reading all they could about flight, in addition to constantly observing birds and continuing their kite experiments. Many of the tools they used to manufacture bicycles they would also use when building their gliders and flyers. In their bicycle shop in Dayton, they did much of their inventing and research. However, it was the Outer Banks of North Carolina that met their criteria for testing their inventions, with its privacy, steady winds, and wide-open non-vegetated spaces. It was here, in sparsely populated Kitty Hawk, they set up camp, giving them the freedom to experiment with and perfect their machines until they achieved success.

COLLECTIONS

At age 32, Orville piloted the first successful powered, controlled flight on December 17, The Wright brothers had changed the world. After , their attention was devoted solely to aviation. By , they formed airplane companies in Europe and America and, by , they had taught the world how to fly. They came back to Kitty Hawk for glide and flight practice, and on October 24, , Orville established a new world soaring record at Kitty Hawk of nine minutes and forty-five seconds, a record that stood for ten years. Orville was in attendance.

He did not make a speech on this auspicious occasion, however, because unlike his brother Wilbur who died of typhoid fever in , Orville was not a comfortable public speaker. He died of a heart attack in Dayton on January 30, , only 21 years before man first set foot on the moon. Explore This Park. Orville Wright.

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