If you’ve always wanted to take a ride in a helicopter, you’re not alone. In fact, there are thousands of people who have dreamed about flying a helicopter, including the Wright brothers. Here’s how they got started.
Orville and Wilbur Wright’s interest in flight began with the death of glider pioneer Otto Lilienthal
In 1899, Orville and Wilbur Wright became intrigued by the death of German aviator Otto Lilienthal. They decided to try and solve the aerodynamic problems of flight and built a glider.
Their first man-carrying glider was designed in 1900 and included a horizontal front rudder and horizontal front elevator. The glider was powered by a 12 horsepower gasoline engine that was constructed by the brothers.
On December 17, 1903, they successfully flew a powered plane for the first time. It was called Flyer I and was a 12.3 meter long, 6.4 meter wingspan, light gas airplane.
After the first flight, the Wrights were interested in a bigger glider. But they were not sure if they could make it fly in strong winds.
Wilbur and Orville made a second glider and tried again. This time, they were more successful. While they were experimenting with the wing and control, a gust of wind knocked the airplane sideways. During the next flight, they were able to recover lateral balance by warping the wingtips.
When they returned to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in the summer of 1904, the Wright brothers were ready to begin flying again. They enlisted the help of Charles Taylor, a machinist from their bicycle shop.
The next year, they built a more powerful glider that could fly farther. With this machine, they began to correct the instability of the Wright Flyer.
Wright brothers’ interest in flight was sparked by a model helicopter toy
The Wright Brothers’ interest in flight was sparked by a toy helicopter. Their father brought the toy home from a trip, and the boys’ fascination with the idea of flying began.
As the brothers’ fascination with flight continued, they read books and articles about aircraft. They also visited the Smithsonian Institute to learn more about the subject.
Eventually, they started experimenting with gliders. Wilbur and Orville used their knowledge of bicycles and other mechanical systems to solve the main problem in early flight.
While they were studying aircraft, they began to develop their own theories. For example, they believed that if they could manipulate the center of pressure on the wings, they could control the machine.
After reading a book about the German glider pioneer Otto Lilienthal, the Wright brothers decided to conduct their own research. At the same time, they hosted visitors. One of them, George Cayley, wrote about his work in detailed letters.
Later, the brothers built a model of a helicopter. It was constructed of cork and bamboo and powered by a rubber band. However, it sank to the floor.
By the end of the year, they had built two different designs. Both of which had opposing wing tips, similar to those of a buzzard.
In addition, they designed a six-foot wind tunnel. This was the first time that the Wright brothers had used such technology.
Wright Flyer’s first attempt at powered flight
The Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio built a flying machine in 1903. Their Flyer was a single-place biplane with anhedral wings and a movable front-mounted aerofoil, called the elevator. It was a first in aviation history, as it was the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft.
Before its first flight, the Wright Flyer was built in three weeks. It weighed 605 pounds without the pilot. With a height of nine feet, it had a width of twenty-one feet and a surface area of 510 square feet.
A twelve-horsepower gasoline engine drove the Flyer. It had a chain-and-sprocket transmission system that connected the engine to the propellers.
After the third flight, the Wright Brothers solved the problems of flight control. In the beginning, they used pusher propellers. But by adding an engine, they had a chance to prove that a powered glider could fly.
They also invented the first simultaneous coordinated roll and yaw control. This technology was patented in 1906.
Another innovative feature of the Wright Flyer was its rear rudder. Both of the Wright brothers were religious. Therefore, they decided not to launch the airplane on a Sunday. Instead, they left for Kitty Hawk on September 23rd.
They waited until 10:00 AM for the wind to die down. By that time, the airplane was ready for a test flight.