Wright Brothers Facts

president Theodore Roosevelt

Wright Brothers Facts for kids: The Birth of Aviation
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th American President who served in office from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909. One of the important events during his presidency was the first powered airplane flight by the Wright Brothers. Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane flight that flew 120 feet lasting 12 seconds over sand dunes at Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk in Dare County, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. His brother Wilbur flew their "Flying Machine" on the same day covering 852 feet over 59 seconds.


Wright Brothers First Flight


The Wright Brothers

The Brooklyn Bridge

Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1910

Fast Facts about the Wright Brothers for kids: Fast Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts about the Wright Brothers and the Birth of Aviation:

● Who were the Wright Brothers? Orville and Wilbur Wright came from a family of seven children and invented the "Flying Machine"
● Orville and Wilbur Wright were mechanics who owned a bicycle shop and began to experiment with flight.
● The Wright Brothers first produced glider in 1902 which made more than 700 flights.
● The Wright Brothers designed and built an engine and experimented with powered flight.
● On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane that covered 120 feet and lasted 12 seconds in the Kill Devil Hills, a group of sand dunes near the town of Kitty Hawk in Dare County, North Carolina. The same day Wilbur Wright flew their "Flying Machine" 852 feet and the flight lasted  for 59 seconds.

The Wright Brothers achieved the first powered, sustained, and controlled flight of an airplane

Wright Brothers Facts for kids: Fact Sheet
Interesting description and facts about the Wright Brothers are detailed in the Fact Sheet. The history of Wright Brothers is told in a factual sequence consisting of a series of short facts providing a simple method of relating the history, events surrounding the Wright Brothers. For additional facts refer to the Inventions & Inventors Timeline.

Wright Brothers Facts and History for kids

Wright Brothers Fact 1: The brothers were two of seven children born to Milton Wright (18281917) and Susan Catherine Koerner (18311889).

Wright Brothers Fact 2: Wilbur was the eldest of the brothers and was born on April 16, 1867 in Millville, Indiana

Wright Brothers Fact 3: Orville was born on August 19, 1871 in Dayton, Ohio

Wright Brothers Fact 4: The father was a bishop in the United Brethren Church and both parents encouraged their children in education and practical matters

Wright Brothers Fact 5: The boys enjoyed the outdoor life, played sports and they played with kites. The practical boys soon started to experiment making their own kites and then they were given a a rubber band-powered helicopter and their interest in flying really began

Wright Brothers Fact 6: Wilbur was the eldest and the dominant brother. He was the intellectual and was serious, quiet, controlled and deliberate.

Wright Brothers Fact 7: Orville had a more extrovert personality, he had drive, was confident, loved challenges and experimenting with new ideas and innovations. He was curious, energetic and optimistic.

Wright Brothers Fact 8: The complimentary character traits of the boys enabled them to achieve their goals and overcome obstacles. Neither Wilbur nor Orville ever married.

Wright Brothers Fact 9: They started their careers in printing but in the 1890's the bicycling craze hit America and they opened a shop repairing bicycles and became excellent mechanics. The Wright Cycle Company was a financial success but neither brother was particularly interested in money they saw it as a 'means to an end'.

Wright Brothers Fact 10: Their interest in bicycles moved on to aviation in the 1890s by the German engineer Otto Lilienthal - the 'Glider King'. His glider flights attracted world wide coverage and his exploits inspired Orville and Wilbur.


Wright Brothers Facts and History for kids

Wright Brothers Facts for kids
Interesting history and the Wright Brothers Facts for kids are continued below.

Wright Brothers Facts and History for kids

Wright Brothers Fact 11: Otto Lilienthal died in 1896. His death was caused by falling from a glider at 49 ft (15 metres). Orville and Wilbur were therefore very aware of the dangers of aviation but decided to put their efforts and skills into building their own gliders.

Wright Brothers Fact 12: They used their money and their bicycle premises to start building gliders. Wilbur realized that gliders lacked suitable controls.

Wright Brothers Fact 13: Orville and Wilbur decided that a pilot might balance an aircraft in the air, just as a cyclist balances his bicycle on the road.

Wright Brothers Fact 14: In 1899, Wilbur invented a simple system called  "wing-warping" that twisted or "warped" the wings of a glider, causing it to roll left or right.

Wright Brothers Fact 15: In 1900 they built a "wing-warping" glider but it was unable to produce enough lift to support a man in moderate winds

● Orville and Wilbur first tested control of the unmanned glider, flying it as if it were a kite
● The photograph shows the 1900 glider flying as a kite
● You can see the ropes attached to the glider

Wright brothers 1900 glider flying as a kite.

Wright Brothers Fact 16: In 1900 the Zeppelin Airship was invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin

Wright Brothers Fact 17: Orville and Wilbur make the decision to build a bigger glider that will take their weight. In 1900 Wilbur writes to Octave Chanute for advice. Octave Chanute was the co-designer of the "Chanute-Herring Double-Decker" a biplane glider on which the Wrights based their first glider designs.

● A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two main wings stacked one above the other

Wright Brothers Fact 18: In 1900 Orville and Wilbur make a manned biplane glider.

● They decide to test their just outside the town of Kitty Hawk in Dare County, North Carolina.
● The sand dunes at Kill Devil Hills was chosen for the test flight of their manned glider because it had high winds to launch them and soft sand to land them.

Wrights manned glider

Wright Brothers Fact 19: On October 22, 1900 Wilbur made his first free glider flight in high winds. Orville then made his first free glider flight on the same day.

Wright Brothers Fact 20: Orville and Wilbur continue to improve the designs of their biplane manned gliders, gradually increasing the size of the wingspan:

● In 1900 they tested a glider with a17.5 foot wingspan
● In 1901 they tested a glider, 22-foot wingspan that traveled 389 feet
● In 1902 they tested a glider with a 32-foot wingspan and recorded their longest flight of 622 feet, lasting 26 seconds

Wright Brothers Fact 21: They were disappointed with the 1900 glider and conducted more aeronautical experiments using the information that the scientists experimenting with aeronautical design had developed. The scientists had produced 'lift tables' to calculate the lift capacity and drag of a wing.

Wright Brothers Fact 22: Orville and Wilbur are convinced that the accepted 'lift tables' are incorrect. Octave Chanute visits the Wright brothers and is impressed by their work in aeronautics. In September 1901 Chanute invited Wilbur to present a scientific paper to the Western Society of Engineers. His presentation called "Some Aerial Experiments" challenges the accuracy of the 'lift tables'.

Wright Brothers Fact 23: Orville and Wilbur go on to build a wind tunnel and between October to December 1901 to study the effects of airflow over various shapes, and test 200 different wing shapes for lift and drag.

Wright Brothers Fact 24: They gain some media attention when 'Some Aeronautical Experiments made by the Wright Brothers' is published in the Scientific American on February 22, 1902.

Wright Brothers Fact 25: In the summer of 1902, based on their findings using the wind tunnel, they build a new glider with a 32-foot wingspan.

● They test the manned biplane-design glider repeatedly (as shown in the photo) and record their longest flight of 622 feet which lasts for 26 seconds
● They experience problems with control and convert the fixed tail to a movable rudder

1902 Wright Brothers Glider

Wright Brothers Fact 26: Following the success of their 1902 manned glider, Orville and Wilbur decide to build a powered 'flying machine'. They knew that they needed engine power, rather than wind power, to create a real "flying machine" that would fly over longer distances.

Wright Brothers Fact 27: Orville and Wilbur contacted at least ten different manufacturers of gasoline motors in 1903, but none of the companies can offer a suitable engine for their 'flying machine'.

Wright Brothers Fact 28: They give up on the engine manufacturers and decide to build their own engine for their "flying machine". They asked their most experienced mechanic and bicycle machinist, Charlie Taylor, to help them.

Wright Brothers Fact 29: Charlie Taylor (1868 1956) designed and built the four-cylinder aluminum engine in only six weeks, based on the drawings of Orville and Wilbur.

Wright Brothers Fact 30: The finished engine for their first powered biplane "flying machine" design included a propeller and weighed 200 pounds, and produced about 12 horsepower.

Wright Brothers Fact 31: They call their biplane flying machine "The Flyer".

Wright Brothers Fact 32: On December 17, 1903 the Wright brothers make four engine powered flights over the sand dunes at Kill Devil Hills, near the town of Kitty Hawk in Dare County, North Carolina. They were  the first sustained and controlled flights that had ever been made.

Wright Brothers Fact 33: Orville piloted the first powered airplane at at 10:35 am that covered 120 feet and lasted 12 seconds and on the same day Wilbur flew their "Flying Machine" 852 feet and the flight lasted for 59 seconds.

Wright Brothers Fact 34: Five people witnessed the first flights of the Wright Brothers: Adam Etheridge, John T. Daniels, Will Dough, W.C. Brinkley and teenager Johnny Moore

Wright Brothers Fact 35: John T. Daniels took the famous "first flight" photo using Orville's pre-positioned camera.

● John Daniels had never seen a camera before he took the famous photo.
● He was so excited by the events he almost forgot to take the photograph
● The "first flight" photo depicts Orville piloting and Wilbur running at wingtip

Wright Brothers First Powered Flight

Wright Brothers Fact 36: A 25 mile-per-hour gale was blowing during the test flights and after the fourth flight, a massive gust of wind flipped 'The Flyer'. The frame supporting the front rudder was badly broken, but the main part of the flying machine was not damaged. After the fantastic achievements of the day the Flyer was shipped back to Dayton, Ohio.

Wright Brothers Fact 37: The Wright Brothers sent a telegram about the flights to their father, requesting that he "inform press."

Wright Brothers Fact 38: Their father contacted the Dayton Journal but they refused to publish the story, saying the flights were too short to be important!

Wright Brothers Fact 39: Orville and Wilbur returned to their home in Dayton, Ohio to perfect their design which had proved to be underpowered and difficult to control. They issued their own press statement in January 1904 but it received little attention.

Wright Brothers Fact 40: In 1904 the Wright Brothers built the "Flyer II" with a 40-foot wingspan and 15-16 horsepower engine.

● They also established the world's first test flight facilities at a field they called Huffman Prairie, northeast of Dayton (now the site of Wright Patterson Air Force Base)

1904 Wright Flyer II

Wright Brothers Fact 41: Their Flyer II engine was not powerful enough to lift the Flyer II into the air without the assistance of a strong wind. To address the problem they built a simple catapult using a derrick that dropped a weight, pulling the Flyer II along a track at Huffman Prairie.

Wright Brothers Flyer II - track and derrick

At first, the Wright Brothers could only fly in a straight line for less than a minute. Then, on September 19, 1904, they achieved a major accomplishment and flew the first full circle in an airplane, making a complete turn around Huffman Prairie in 1 minute and 35 seconds

Wright Brothers Fact 42: By July 1905 Orville and Wilbur had built the Flyer III. On its first flight, on July 14, 1905, Orville lost control of the airplane and nose-dived into the ground. He was not seriously injured but the crash indicated that more adjustments were necessary the brothers decide to redesign and rebuild the aircraft.

Wright Brothers Fact 43: By September 1905 the re-built Flyer III became the world's first practical airplane.

● The Flyer III had a 40-foot wingspan with a 20 horsepower engine.
● Its longest flight covered 24 miles and took 39 minutes.

Wright Brothers Flyer III

Wright Brothers Fact 44: After making modifications to the design, the engine, the controls, the propellers of their Flyer III airplane Orville and Wilbur were able to fly figure-eight's over Huffman Prairie, staying in the air for over half an hour until their fuel ran out

Wright Brothers Fact 45: In 1906 the Wrights' Patent was granted and the 'flying machine' was called an aeroplane.

Wright Brothers Fact 46: Orville and Wilbur made no flights at all in 1906 and 1907. They concentrated on discussions with the U.S. and European governments to persuade them that they had invented a successful flying machine and were prepared to negotiate a contract to sell their aircraft.

Wright Brothers Fact 47: The Wright Brothers introduce their Model A Flyer. Record-breaking flights in 1908 by Orville in the United States and by Wilbur in France brought them fame all over the world.

Wright Brothers Fact 48: In 1909 the United States government negotiated the use of the Wrights airplanes and the brothers established the Wright Company.

Wright Brothers Fact 49: In 1909 the Wrights were awarded the Congressional Medal for their contribution to the world of their flying  machine.

Wright Brothers Fact 50: In 1910 The Wright Brothers open the first civilian flight training school in Montgomery, Alabama.

Wright Brothers Fact 51: The Wright Brothers Model B is introduced and becomes their most successful commercial aircraft and is modified as the Model EX

Wright Brothers Fact 52: The Model EX had a 35 horsepower engine with a speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/hr) flying at 1000 feet (305 meters).

Wright Brothers Fact 53: In June 1911 Calbraith Perry Rodgers became the first private citizen to buy the Model EX. Orville gave him 90 minutes of instruction before he flew solo. Calbraith Perry Rodgers went on to persuade J. Ogden Armour, the owner of the grape soft drink Vin Fiz, to sponsor his attempt to fly coast-to-coast across the U.S.

Wright Brothers Fact 54: The Wright Brothers Model EX was re-named the Vin Fiz Flyer as part of the publicity deal. The Vin Fiz Flyer began its flight on September 17, 1911. 

Wright Brothers Fact 55: The Vin Fiz Flyer became the first aircraft to fly coast-to-coast across the U.S. - the journey that took almost three months.

● There were 16 crashes and Cal Rodgers was injured several times.
● Charlie Taylor and a team of Wrights mechanics rebuilt the Vin Fiz Flyer when necessary
● Cal Rodgers landed in Pasadena, California on November 5, 1911 in front of a crowd of 20,000 people.

Wrights Model EX - the Vin Fiz Flyer

Wright Brothers Fact 56: Wilbur died of typhoid fever, at age 45, on May 30, 1912 in Dayton, Ohio

Wright Brothers Fact 57: In 1915 Orville sold the Wright Company and his patents to a group of investors in New York.

Wright Brothers Fact 58: In 1920 President Woodrow Wilson appointed Orville to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the forerunner of NASA).

Wright Brothers Fact 59: In 1944 the aviator Howard Hughes lands in Dayton, Ohio and gives Orville his last airplane ride.

Wright Brothers Fact 60: Orville Wright died of a heart attack on January 30, 1948 (aged 76) in Dayton, Ohio. So ends the amazing story of the Aviation Pioneers who changed the world

Wright Brothers Facts and History for kids

Wright Brothers Facts for kids: History of Airplanes
For visitors interested in the history of airplanes refer to the following articles:

Wright Brothers Facts for kids - President Theodore Roosevelt Video
The article on the Wright Brothers Facts provides detailed facts and a summary of one of the important events during his presidential term in office. The following video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 26th American President whose presidency spanned from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909.

Wright Brothers Facts

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