The Wright Brothers Facts

  • The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, built the world’s first successful plane, the Flyer.
  • On 17 December 1903 the Wright brothers made the first powered, long and controlled airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, USA.
  • Wilbur Wright was born in 1867 on a farm near New Castle, Indiana; Orville was born in 1871 in Dayton, Ohio.
  • The Wright brothers began as bicycle-makers but became keen on flying after hearing about the death of pioneer glider Otto Lilienthal in 1896.
  • From 1899 to 1903 they worked at Kitty Hawk methodically improving their design and flying skill.
  • Many early planes took off but lacked control. The key to the Wrights’ success was stopping the plane rolling, using wires to ‘warp’ (twist) the wings to lift one side or the other.
  • The Flyer’s wing warp meant it could not only fly level but make balanced, banked turns (like a bicycle cornering).
  • For the first flight Orville was at the controls.
  • The historic first flight lasted 12 seconds, in which the Flyer traveled 37 m and landed safely.
  • On 5 October 1905 the Wrights flew 38.9 km in 38 minutes.