This engaging narrative account of Orville and Wilbur Wright, two men with little formal schooling but a knack for solving problems, follows their interest from a young age in the developing field of aeronautics. Russell Freedman’s writing brings the brothers’ personalities to life, enhancing the record of events with excerpts from the brothers’ writing and correspondence, and accounts of those who knew them.
Chronicling their lives from their early mechanical work on toys and bicycles through the development of several flyers, The Wright Brothers follows the siblings through their achievements—not only the first powered, sustained, controlled airplane flight, but the numerous improvements and enhancements that followed, their revolutionary airplane business, and the long legacy of that first brief flight.
Illustrated with numerous historical photographs—many taken by the Wright brothers themselves—this is a concise, extremely reader-friendly introduction to these important American inventors.
Includes a note on the Wright brothers’ photographs, as well as recommendation for further reading and learning.
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About the Author
Russell Freedman received the Newbery Medal for LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY. He is also the recipient of three Newbery Honors, a National Humanities Medal, the Sibert Medal, the Orbis Pictus Award, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and was selected to give the 2006 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Mr. Freedman lives in New York City and travels widely to research his books.
The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two Americans who are generally credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903. In the two years afterward, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed wing flight possible.
The brothers' fundamental breakthrough was their invention of "three-axis control", which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became standard and remains standard on fixed wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on unlocking the secrets of control to conquer "the flying problem", rather than developing more powerful engines as some other experimenters did. Their careful wind tunnel tests produced better aeronautical data than any before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers more effective than any before. Their U.S. patent 821,393 claims the invention of a system of aerodynamic control that manipulates a flying machine's surfaces.
They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles in particular influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle like a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice. From 1900 until their first powered flights in late 1903, they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots.