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The Wright Brothers

Wilbur Wright,
Born in 1867 - Died in 1912
Orville Wright,
Born in 1871 - Died in 1948


The Wright Brothers<BR> First flight at Kitty Hawk
North Carolina on December 17, 1903

People had dreamed of flying for many years. The United States Army was trying to develop an airplane in 1903, but the plane wouldn't fly. The New York Times wrote that maybe in 1 million to 10 million years they might be able to make a plane that would fly.

Only eight days later two men were successful in flying the first manned plane. They were Wilbur Wright and his younger brother, Orville. They had made a propeller-driven* airplane and it had stayed in the air for 12 seconds! It was called the Wright Flyer. They made three more flights that day at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Only five people were there to see the flights, and very few newspapers even wrote a story about it.

The first plane they had built was a glider that measured 16 feet from wing tip to wing tip. It cost them $15 to build it. The gasoline-powered plane they flew at Kitty Hawk cost them less than $1000 to build.

They learned to love to "tinker"* from their mother. She was always fixing and repairing things. The boys earned money by making home-made mechanical toys. When bicycles became popular, they opened a bicycle shop.

They studied birds and how they flew. They contacted other people who were trying to fly. They made a wind tunnel at their shop to test different kinds of wings.

picture2
Wilbur and Orville Wright

They continued to improve their planes, and five years later Orville remained in the air for one hour and two minutes. A few days later he had an accident in his plane. He had several broken bones and his passenger died. This was the most serious accident they ever had.

After Wilbur died of typhoid fever* in 1912, Orville continued to work alone. He sold his interest in the Wright Company and retired three years later.

The original* plane that flew at Kitty Hawk was placed in a Science Museum in London in 1928. Twenty years later, the museum sent the plane back to the United States. It can now be seen at the National Air Museum in Washington, D.C.

This biography by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher, was written in 2001.

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Dictionary

From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster

(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)

propeller
Pronunciation: prə-'pel-ər
Function: noun
: a device consisting of a hub fitted with blades
that is made to turn rapidly by an engine
and is used especially for propelling airplanes and ships

typhoid fever
Function: noun
: a disease that is caused by a bacteria, is characterized
especially by fever, diarrhea, weakness, headache,
and an inflamed intestine, and is passed
from one person to another in dirty food or water

original
Function: adjective
relating to or being the origin or beginning : FIRST, EARLIEST

tinker
Function: verb
.... to repair or adjust something in an unskilled or experimental manner


Research Links

The Wright Brothers, First Flight, 1903
accounts from Eye Witness to History

Wilbur and Orville Wright
First Flight
(other biographies available)

The Wright Brothers
from MIT

The Wright Brothers
People and Discoveries, PBS

First Flight
pioneers in flight

The Wright Brothers
biography with audio version

Flight at Kitty Hawk
view a QuickTime movie at PBS

Vicker's Airship Catalogue
circa 1920-22

Wright Brothers Photography
from Paperless Archives

Orville Wright and Flight (audio)
Flight in 1909 (audio)
Wright and Lilienthal (audio)
Taylor's Engine (audio)
The Wright Brothers' Propellers (audio)
Thomas Selfridge (audio)
A Vision of Flight (audio)
An Egyptian Model Plane (audio)
Maxim's Airplane (audio)
Testing Airplane Propellers (audio)
Engines of Our Ingenuity.

The Wright Brothers
lesson planning article from Education World

At biography.com search for The Wright Brothers.
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Videos





Nova - PBS Wright Brothers Flying Machine, 54 Minutes


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The Wright Brothers
by Janet Dorfman (selected pages)

The Wright Brothers, Kids Can Read
by Elizabeth MacLeod, Andrej Krystoforski (selected pages) Order here

The Wright Brothers, Graphic Biographies
by Kerri O'Hern, Gretchen Will Mayo, Rebekah Isaacs (selected pages) Order here

The Wright sister: Katharine Wright and her famous brothers
by Richard Maurer (selected pages) Order here

Wee and the Wright Brothers (Fiction)
by Timothy R. Gaffney, Bernadette Pons (selected pages) Order here

The Wright Brothers' Glider
by Gerry Bailey, Karen Foster (selected pages) Order here

The Wright Brothers (Bio Graphics)
by Joe Dunn (selected pages) Order here

The Wright Brothers
by Susan E. Hamen (selected pages)Order here

The Wright Brothers and the Airplane (Weekly Reader)
by Monica L. Rausch (selected pages) Order here

The Wright Brothers: First in Flight
by Tara Dixon-Engel, Mike Jackson (selected pages) Order here

"Are We There Yet? The Wright Brothers' National Memorial Park
by Sandra Taylor-Miller (selected pages) Order here

The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk (Reader's Theater)
by Alan Kramer (selected pages) Order here

The Wright Brothers: Two Brothers, One Dream: Let's Fly
by Carole Marsh (selected pages) Order here

From The Wright Brothers To The Treaty Of Versailles: The Early 1900s To 1919
by Sean Sheehan (selected pages) Order here

The Wright Brothers
by Lola M. Schaefer (selected pages) Order here

U.S. Facts & Fun, Grades 4-6
by Joanne Mattern (selected pages) Order here

Using Biographies in the Classroom
by Garth Sundem, Shell Education, See Sample pages
Order here

The Wright Brothers
by Ginger Wadsworth (selected pages)

My Brothers' Flying Machine: Wilbur, Orville, and Me
by Jane Yolen, Jim Burke (selected pages)

The Wright Brothers
by Kitty Shea (selected pages)

The Wright Brothers, People to Know
by Jonatha A. Brown (selected pages)

The Wright Brothers and the Airplane
by Xavier Niz (selected pages)

The Wright brothers: how they invented the airplane
by Russell Freedman, Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright (selected pages)

The Story of the Wright Brothers (coloring book)
by Bruce LaFontaine (selected pages)

Credits and Solutions

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