The first flight of two eccentric bicycle repairers

Wilbur Wright (Milville, Ohio, April 16, 1867 - Dayton, Ohio, May 30, 1912)
Orville Wright (Dayton, Ohio, August 19, 1871 - Dayton, Ohio, January 30, 1948)

Near the fishing village of Kitty Hawk, a remote spot on the North Carolina coast, more than a hundred years ago, two men tossed a coin to decide who would take off first. Wilbur, the oldest of the Wright brothers, won.

On December 14, 1903, it flapped through the air for 3.5 seconds and then crashed. Four days later, the biplane was repainted for another attempt.

At 10:30 a.m., the Wright brothers laid out the running rails in the frigid wind. Five men from the fishing village maneuvered the 'Flyer' onto the rails. The 12-horsepower engine started to crackle and now it was Orville's turn. He lay on his stomach in the lower airfoil of the biplane.

The Flyer departed at 10:35 AM. Brother Wilbur could easily walk past the kite. With its two propellers driven by bicycle chains, the rig barely reached 10 kilometers per hour.

Orville rattled the elevator a bit, and there the biplane rose ten feet; 35 meters away he landed in the dunes.

The handful of semi-frozen privileged witnesses cheered: For the first time in human history, a machine had made its own flight with a human on board. She's a very small one.

That day, the brothers took off three more times, already reaching a distance of 256 meters. In the year 1904 they made 105 flights. In 1905 they could cover a distance of 45 kilometers.

Wilbur and Orville Wright were 36 and 32 years old respectively at the time of their first success. They were born in Dayton, Ohio, to a bishop of the Hernhutters, also known as Moravian Brethren.

Orville later wrote, “We were fortunate to grow up in an environment that greatly encouraged children to develop intellectually, to explore anything that sparked their curiosity.

Our house had two libraries: one with theological works in father's study and a large one for general education in the living room.'

Yet neither of them finished high school. Wilbur was about to graduate from college when a hockey stick hit his head hard while ice skating.

He lost eight teeth, developed an inflammation that would not heal, had strange heart palpitations and fell into a deep depression. He spent four years at the bedside of his mother, who died of tuberculosis in 1889.

First, the two brothers set up a printing business, where they even printed a newspaper; a few years later they also opened a bicycle shop there. And then they started producing those bikes themselves.

In the nineties of the nineteenth century, hundreds of inventors were busy with airplanes in Western Europe and the United States. German engineer Otto Lilienthal was killed in one of his gliding tests in 1896, an accident that received a lot of international attention.

Wilbur Wright read everything he could get his hands on about flying. He tried to learn from the mistakes of the others and especially to gain experience with gliding.

From 1900, the Wrights could occasionally be found in the inhospitable Kitty Hawk for a few weeks.

They worked systematically and built a wind tunnel at home in which they tested each component individually: the movable wings, the elevator, the propellers, or different types of fuel.

When they returned to North Carolina in the winter of 1903, they knew that theoretically everything was right.

The outside world reacted suspiciously to their success. The established scientists in particular couldn't believe that two ignorant bikers from Ohio had beaten the entire scientific world.

But the two strange brothers—who remained unmarried and flew only in suits, starched collars, and ties—wouldn't let the cheese come off the bread. They traveled to Europe in 1908 and 1909 and gave demonstrations for kings and emperors.

They also brought their secret weapon on that occasion, their younger sister Katherine, who had just that mundane touch of charm that her brothers lacked.

Wilbur was indeed the brightest of the two, but before he could properly write down the story of their inventive adventure, he died suddenly of typhus in 1912. And Orville had all the documents burned upon his death in 1948.
In 2003, one hundred years later, four American scientific teams tried to reconstruct the first aircraft with a budget of millions of dollars.

The first primal Flyer is in a museum in Washington, but where did you find the special fabric for women's underwear with which the brothers wrapped the skeleton of their biplane? Who remembered the kinds of fuel they'd whipped up for their small engine?

How on earth could you fly with an elevator in the front and two propellers in the back? The most beautiful aircraft engineers faced many riddles
The fact that the interior of a jumbo jet is a hundred years after date longer than the meager 35 meters that they covered on their first flight, the two bicycle repairers from Dayton had yet to experience.