Orville and Wilbur Wright piloted the first man-powered and controlled airplane flights on December 17th, 1903. The two brothers, with no formal training, took to the skies over the dunes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and launched into history. Here are 10 interesting facts about the Wright Brothers.
1. In 1969, Neil Armstrong brought a piece of the Wright Flyer to the moon in his space suit’s pocket. Interestingly, not only were the Wright Brothers from Ohio, but so was Armstrong. The pieces were part of the propeller and some of the fabric from the wing of the 1903 Flyer.
2. Orville refused to donate the Wright Flyer to the Smithsonian. Only in 1948, a year after his death, did it land in the Institution.
3. Orville was part of the first flight-related death in 1908. The two-passenger Wright Military Flyer was to demonstrate its flight at Fort Myer, Virginia, when the propeller crumbled, causing the aircraft to lose control and smash at full speed to the ground. Army Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge was a passenger and later died from his injuries.
4. Wilbur and Orville were very close and never married. They told a reporter that they “didn’t have time for a wife and an airplane”.
5. After four flights in the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, the craft never flew again. This was because of a sudden strong gust of wind that flipped the Flyer several times, damaging it heavily.
6. The Wright Brother’s father feared losing both of his sons in an airplane crash, so they promised never to fly together. Only once did they make an exception on May 25th, 1910, when they flew for six minutes.
7. Orville owned a printing business, where Wilbur worked with his brother. The published a weekly newspaper called the West Side News (1889) and a daily paper called The Evening Item (1892). After that, they funded their flying experiments with Wright Cycle Company, a bicycle sales and repair shop.
8. In addition to the Wright Brothers having no formal training, they didn’t even earn high school diplomas.
9. Their father did not totally approve of the brothers flying and once said “It is impossible for men in the future to fly like birds. Flying is reserved for the angels. Do not mention that again lest you be guilty of blasphemy.”
10. The cause of their flying obsession? A toy from their father. It was a helicopter made of bamboo, cork, and paper; it was powered by a rubber band and sparked the boys’ imaginations and the rest is history!