33 — Wilbur and Orville Wright

a.k.a: Will and Orv

Occupation: Inventors

Born: 1867 & 1871

Died: 1912 & 1948

Brief Description:
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were American inventors and pioneers of aviation. They are credited with designing and building the world’s first successful airplane, the 1903 Wright Flyer.

The brothers were born in Dayton, Ohio, Orville on August 19, 1871, and Wilbur on April 16, 1867. They were the sons of Milton Wright, a bishop of the United Brethren Church, and Susan Catherine Koerner Wright. Growing up, they were fascinated by mechanics and flight. They built and flew kites and gliders, and read everything they could find about the subject.

In 1892, the Wright brothers opened a bicycle sales and repair shop in Dayton, which they used as a base for their growing interest in flight. They began experimenting with gliders in the late 1800s, and eventually built their own wind tunnel to test wing designs. They studied the works of other aviation pioneers such as George Cayley, Otto Lilienthal, and Octave Chanute, and began to develop their own ideas about how to achieve powered flight.

In 1900, the Wright brothers built and tested their first glider at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, a location they chose for its steady winds and soft sand dunes. Despite initial setbacks, they continued to improve their designs, and in 1903 they were ready to attempt powered flight. On December 17, 1903, Orville piloted the first flight, which lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. Wilbur piloted the fourth and final flight of the day, which lasted 59 seconds and covered 852 feet.

After their historic flights, the Wright brothers continued to improve their designs and made several more flights in the following years. They eventually opened the Wright Brothers Flying School in Montgomery, Alabama, and began selling airplanes to the military and other customers. They made their first public flight in 1908 at Huffman Prairie, Ohio, and in 1909, they made their first flight in Europe.

The Wright brothers’ contributions to aviation were significant and far-reaching. They developed the three-axis control system, which is still used on airplanes today, and their designs served as the basis for future aircraft. They received numerous accolades and honors during their lifetime, including the French Legion of Honor, and were inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, in 1973.

Orville Wright died on January 30, 1948, and Wilbur Wright died on May 30, 1912, both in Dayton, Ohio. Their legacy is still celebrated today as they are considered as the fathers of modern aviation. The Wright Brothers’ achievements were not only a technological breakthrough but also a significant moment in human history as it opened up a new era of transportation and communication.

Why they’re on the list:
The Wright brothers were fascinated by flight since their early age when their father brought home a toy helicopter. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke and then built their own. Their experience with the toy was the spark of their interest in flying.

At the time, many people and institutions with much higher budgets were also interested in building the first successful airplane. But what gave the Wright brothers an edge was their willingness to build and try out many different prototypes, adjusting and improving them each time.

At a time when flight was generally believed to be impossible, these two unassuming brothers were confident enough and passionate enough to prove to the world that humans could indeed fly. I have a few personal projects of my own that I am passionate about and that I hope to achieve one day and the Wright brothers’ story is an inspiration and an example to follow in the pursuit of these seemingly unattainable goals.

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