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is the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright, the invention of the airplane, and man's first
flights. It's a complex story that includes not only the Wright Brothers, but also the
myriads of people who touched their lives -- and those whose lives were touched by
them. It spans hundreds of years and reaches to every part of the globe, from the
gloomy moors of Britain's Yorkshire, where a baronet with an insane wife built the first
successful gliders, to the New Zealand outback, where a self-taught rancher labored in
obscurity on an aircraft that may have made a few tentative hops just before the Wright
Flyer leaped into the air.
The story is here in its entirety, but it's told in such a
way that you can glean as little or as much information as you need. If you just want to
know a little more about the Wright Brothers, the first levels will give you
an overview of the story and a timeline. If you want to delve deeper
into the story, we flesh it out in detail at the lower levels. And if you're a serious researcher who wants to wade through
the minutia of the Wright's diaries, papers, and correspondence – or a
student who needs to consult primary sources for a History Day
project – we have included many of these at the lowest level and
we're adding more all the time.
The History Wing is divided
into these sections:
A biography of Wilbur and Orville Wright, from Wilbur's birth in 1867 to Orville's death in
1948. Includes many of their own writings, eyewitness
accounts, and the remembrances of the people who knew them.
Wilbur and Orville Wright getting the Flyer 2 ready to fly at Huffman Prairie,
near Dayton, Ohio in 1904.
The history of the fixed-wing aircraft, from its
conception in 1799 by an English baron with a mad wife to the first truly stable aircraft that emerged just before the
beginning of World War I, designed by a young genius. Includes short
biographies of pioneer aviators and early aeronautical engineers,
illustrated timelines of pioneer aviation history, and reviews of
various claims for who was first to fly and when.
A scene from the Rheims "Aviation Week" of 1909, the first major air
show, with an impressive 38 planes on display. (Only 23 of them got off the ground, but it
was still impressive.)
A collection of the more
offbeat and fascinating stories in pioneer aviation, often told by people
who were eyewitnesses to aviation history.
In 1908, the Marquis d'Equevilly designed an
aircraft that looked a great deal like a vegetable shredder and flew
almost as well.