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hese are only a few of the photos and drawings of the Wright brothers, but they are the most important. These are what you need to help tell the story of the Wright brothers and the invention of the airplane. These visual aids are shown below in low resolution, but you can download high resolution images with much more detail for reports, prints, and posters. Left-click on the image and the hi-res version will load. Right-click on the image and choose "Save image as" from the drop-down menu that appears.

Note: If you would like to use any of these images professionally or commercially, please read the FAQ HERE.


1898 -- Wilbur Wright at work in the Wright Cycle Company, making bicycles. Note the bicycle frame overhead.


1898 -- the Wright "Van Cleve" bicycle. The Wrights manufactured this model and one other, the "St. Clair," between 1896 and 1902.


1909 -- The Wright Cycle Company at 1127 West Third Street in Dayton, Ohio. It was here that the Wrights built all their experimental gliders and airplanes.

1898 -- The Wright home at 7 Hawthorne Street in Dayton, Ohio. Both the home and the bicycle shop were later moved to Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
1899 -- Wilbur designed this controllable kite to test the aerodynamic control system he would later use in gliders and airplanes.
1900 -- The Wrights travel to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to test their first manned glider. This was their first camp, just outside of the village.

1900 -- The Lifesavers at Kitty Hawk. These men -- in fact, many of the people on the North Carolina Outerbanks -- aided the Wright brothers during their visits.

1900 -- The first Wright glider being flown as a kite to measure its lifting capacity. The Wright found it would not support the weight of a man in a stiff wind.

1900 -- The glider was all but destroyed when it tore loose from the ground in a storm. The Wrights repaired it an continued to make test flights.

1901 -- The Wrights moved their camp to the base of the Kill Devil Hills. Here Octave Chanute, a respected engineer and aeronautical experimenter, visited them for the first time.

1901 -- The second Wright glider, at the time that it was built, was the largest glider anyone had ever attempted to fly.

1901 -- The Wrights fly their second glider as a kite to measure its lift. Again, they were disappointed.

1901 -- Dan Tate and Edward Huffaker launch Wilbur aboard the second glider. Tate was a "Banker" (a native of the Outerbanks) and Huffaker was a friend of Chanute's.

1901 -- Wilbur in flight aboard the second glider.

1901 -- Wilbur just after he landed. The performance of the second glider was as disappointing as the first, and the Wright left Kitty Hawk sooner than they had planned.

1901 -- Back in Dayton, the Wrights decided that the information they had been relying on to design their gliders was in error. They built this wind tunnel to test over two hundred wing shapes and generate their own design data.

1901 -- The Wrights built several balances to use in the wind tunnel to measure various forces on the wing shapes. This was their "lift balance."

1902 -- The Wrights' third glider was designed using the wind tunnel results. When they kited it at Kitty Hawk, they noticed an immediate improvement in performance. Note the double-panel tail. When the Wrights first flew this glider, it was fixed. The tail didn't move.

1902 -- Wilbur and Dan Tate launch Orville aboard the third glider. The tail is now a single-panel rudder. The Wrights made it movable to improve the controls. It is now has a three-axis aerodynamic control system, making it the first fully controllable flying machine ever.

1902 -- Dan Tate chases behind Orville as he flies.

1902 -- A close-up of Wilbur as he flies the third glider.

1902 -- Orville making a turn in the third glider. This simple maneuver wasn't possible in the two previous gliders.

1902 -- Orville brings the glider in for a soft landing.

1903 -- The Wrights initial sketch for their first powered airplane. It was drawn on brown wrapping paper.

1903 -- When the Wrights couldn't find a suitable engine for their airplane, they built their own with the help of machinist Charley Tailor. The 200-pound, 4-cylinder engine produced 12 horsepower.

1903 -- The "Flyer," as the Wrights referred to their airplane, was built in Dayton but was assembled for the first time in Kitty Hawk.

1903 -- The Wrights added another shed -- the first true hangar -- to their camp in which to build and house the Flyer.

1903 -- While they were building the Flyer, they continued to make practice flights with their 1902 glider. All total, they made about 2000 glides.

1903 -- The Wright set up the Flyer and its launch track for the first flight attempt on December 14, 1903.

1903 -- On the first attempt to fly, Wilbur raises the nose too high. The Flyer stalls and drops back to earth, breaking the front skid.

1903 -- The Wrights try again on December 17and make four successful flights. The wind rolls the Flyer after the last flight, damaging it beyond repair.

1904 -- The Wrights decide to continue their flight tests closer to home. They build a second copy of the Flyer and begin to test it at Huffman Prairie, near Dayton, Ohio.

1904 -- Without the winds of Kitty Hawk to help them, the Wright have trouble getting airborne. They build a tower that drops a weight and pulls them along the launch track, catapulting them into the air.

1904 -- The Wrights begin to make short flights and improve their piloting skills. By November of 1904, they are flying complete circles around Huffman Prairie.

1905 -- The Wrights consider everything they've learned in the past seven year and build their third powered airplane -- the Wright Flyer III. It flies well and is much easier to control than their previous Flyers. This will be their last experimental airplane.

1905 -- By the end of the year, they are able to keep the Flyer III aloft until the gas runs dry, traveling 24 miles. They begin to look for a buyer for their airplane.

1908 -- In 1907, French industrialists and the U.S. Army agreed to buy airplanes, provided they would carry passengers. The Wrights outfitted their Wright Flyer III with a new motor and two seats and took it the Kitty Hawk to test. It was here they flew the first airplane passenger, Charley Furnas.

1908 -- Orville flies the Wright Military Flyer at Fort Myer, Virginia. He begins to put the aircraft through several "trials" to prove its performance.

1908 -- Orville crashes during the last trial flight, breaking his leg and hip. His passenger, Lt. Thomas Selfridge, died of a blow to the head. The Wrights delivered a new Flyer to the Army and completed the military trials in 1909.

1908 -- Wilbur adjusts the engine of his airplane at Le Mans, France. The aircraft was damaged in shipment and had to be rebuilt entirely.

1908 -- The Wright Flyer perched upon the starting rail, ready for take-off. Note that the weight is at the top of the catapult tower, indicating it is "cocked."

1908 -- Wilbur takes off from Le Mans, France. He, too, had to put the aircraft through trial flights to satisfy the French buyers.

1908 -- People came from all over Europe to watch Wilbur fly. He demonstrates the Flyer for thousands of people that include heads of state, royalty, and the commanders of armies.

1909 -- Orville Wright, his leg and hip on the mend, joins Wilbur in Europe.

1909 -- Katharine Wright accompanies her convalescing brother Orville and take over as the Wright social director in Europe. Wilbur takes her aloft, making her one of the first women to fly.

1909 -- During the winter, Wilbur moves his flight operations to Pau in southern France. Later, he flies in Italy, eventually making over 100 flights in Europe.

1909 -- The Wright return from Europe to a hero's welcome in Dayton, Ohio.
1910 -- Orville (left) and Wilbur (right), now manufacturing two airplanes a month, attend an air meet in Belmont, New York where they introduce their newest airplane, the Wright Model B. The "B" will sell for $5000 each and will become the Wrights most popular model.


If you would rather not pluck these photos off the page one at a time, you can save some work and download all 48 in one fell swoop. Click HERE to download a 14 Mb zipped file, Wright_Photos.rar.

If you need more images, the United States Library of Congress offers 303 high-resolution images of the Wright brothers, their lives, and work. All of these were taken by Wilbur, Orville, or Lorin Wright between 1898 and 1911.

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