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12 Fun and Interesting Facts About the Wright Brothers

12 Fun and Interesting Facts About the Wright Brothers
The Wright brothers are often referred to as the fathers of modern aviation, but there is a lot more to this duo than simply that. We will provide information not only about their invention, but other interesting facts about their lives.
Rujuta Borkar
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Did You Know?
It is said that the Wright brothers were asked never to fly in the same flight owing to safety concerns by their father, Milton Wright.
The Wright brothers are credited with the invention of the plane, which is touted as one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. Had it not been for them, the world would not have known how to 'fly like the bird'.
So how did this pair invent the plane, and what inspired them to do so? What was their life like, and did they invent anything else? These, and several other interesting facts about the Wright brothers will be discussed in this ScienceStruck article. Allow me to use a cliché, and let me just ask you to fasten your seat belts and accompany me on this joy ride.
12 Interesting Facts About the Wright Brothers
Who Were the Wright Brothers?
Orville And Wilbur Wright
Wilbur and Orville Wright were two of seven children born to Milton Wright, a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, and Susan Catherine Koerner Wright. Wilbur was born on April 16, 1867, in Indiana, near Millville and was the middle child. Orville Wright was his younger brother and was born on August 19, 1871, in Dayton, Ohio. They spent their childhood in both Ohio and Indiana. As children, the two were very close and acted as each others' playmates.
No College for Them
Wright Brothers Printing With Woodcut
Wilbur was a very bright and studious child who always excelled in school. He was outgoing, and had a robust personality; he had planned on attending Yale University after completing his high school. However, in the year 1885-86, he got injured while playing an ice hockey game, where another player's stick hit him in the face. Though he recovered from the injury, the incident caused Wilbur to go into depression.
He gave up on his plans of attending Yale, dropped out of high school, and retreated to his family's home, where he spent much of his time reading books and caring for his ailing mother―who died of tuberculosis in 1889. He later began helping out at the church.

Orville Wright also dropped out after his first year in junior high and spent many years learning the printing trade. The Wright brothers were the only members of the Wright family who did not attend college.
They Did a Lot of This and That
Wright Brothers With Newspaper
Even though both brothers did not attend college, they were keenly interested in learning new things. In 1889, they started their own newspaper―the West Side News. Orville published it and Wilbur edited it.
The brothers also loved bicycles, and in 1892, they opened their own bicycle shop, where they not only fixed cycles, but later began to make and sell their own designs. The business was a success. Along with bicycles, they also designed and manufactured kites and gliders.
The Inspiration Behind the Flight
Their father, Milton Wright, traveled quite frequently owing to his preachings, and he often brought back small gifts for his children. In 1878, he brought back a model helicopter which was made of bamboo, paper, and cork, and was powered by a rubber band which helped twirl its blades. Fascinated by the toy and its mechanism, the brothers would develop a love for aeronautics and flying that would last a lifetime.
The Final Push
Wright Brothers Flying Sky
They were always working on different mechanical projects, and they also kept up with the latest scientific research. The brothers closely followed the research of German aviator Otto Lilienthal. After Lilienthal's death in a glider crash, the Wright brothers decided to start their own experiments with flight and headed to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina―a place known for its strong winds. They wanted to move there to develop their own successful airplane design.
Preparing for the Flight
The brothers developed a concept called 'wing warping' that was based on the manner in which birds angled their wings for balance and control. They based the design of their plane wings on this idea. Several gliders were built during the period of 1900 - 1903. Many test flights led to several damages to the flyers, and even killed a co-passenger on one of the experimental flights, severely injuring Orville in the process as well.
The First Flight - Date and Length
First Flight Landing Marker
On December 17, 1903, Orville successfully flew the first flight at 10.35 am, in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina―reaching a height of 120 feet in 12 seconds, at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour. On the same day, two other flights were flown, reaching heights of 175 and 200 feet.
What's New
Although they weren't the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made a fixed-wing powered flight possible. Their breakthrough has been credited to the invention of the three-axis control which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft and maintain its equilibrium.
Fame and Otherwise
The brothers found that many in the country, and the press in general were reluctant to believe in the success of their flight. Disappointed, they traveled to France in 1908, because they believed that a feat of this nature was highly appreciated there. In Europe, they were welcomed more easily, and they made many public flights, giving rides to officials, statesmen, and journalists. They became huge celebrities in Europe and were hosted by the royals and other heads of state, often featuring in the press. They returned to the USA in 1909, and in due course of time, they became wealthy businessmen, filling contracts for airplanes in both USA and Europe.
Bachelors Until We Die
Neither of the brothers ever married, and Wilbur has even been recorded as saying that 'he did not have time for a wife and an airplane'.
Close Relations
The brothers always shared credit for their work and were very close throughout their lives. However, Wilbur was the business mind and executive of the operation, and therefore, served as the President of the Wright Company.
Death and Legacy
Wright Brothers Monument Kitty Hawk
in April 1912, Wilbur Wright became ill on a business trip to Boston ; he was later diagnosed with typhoid fever and after several weeks of lingering between a state of consciousness and unconsciousness, he died, at the age of 45, in the Wright family home on May 30th, 1912.
After Wilbur's death, Orville took over the presidency of the Wright company, however, not having his brother's executive skills, he sold the company in 1915. He made his last flight as a pilot in 1918. Orville died on January 30, 1948, after his second heart attack.
Though the brothers initially found it difficult to convince the world of their feats, and were a part of several controversies, in due course of time, their motherland hailed them as heroes. Today, you find the duo featured on stamps and coins, and the Wright brothers have several monuments erected in their honor―rightly so.