Roaring twenties Aviation
By Logan Shreve
Wilbur was a bright and studious child, and excelled in school. His personality was outgoing and robust, and he made plans to attend Yale University after high school. In the winter of 1885-86, an accident changed the course of Wilbur’s life. He was badly injured in an ice hockey game, when another player’s stick hit him in the face.Though most of his injuries healed, the incident plunged Wilbur into a depression. He did not receive his high school diploma, canceled plans for college, and retreated to his family’s home.
Always working on different mechanical projects and keeping up with scientific research, the Wright brothers closely followed the research of German aviator Otto Lilienthal. When Lilienthal died in a glider crash, the brothers decided to start their own experiments with flight. Determined to develop their own successful design, Wilbur and Orville headed to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, known for its strong winds.
Wilbur and Orville set to work trying to figure out how to design wings for flight. They observed that birds angled their wings for balance and control, and tried to emulate this, developing a concept called “wing warping.” When they added a moveable rudder, the Wright brothers found they had the magic formula-on December 17, 1903, they succeeded in flying the first free, controlled flight of a power-driven, heavier than air plane. Wilbur flew their plane for 59 seconds, at 852 feet, an extraordinary achievement.
The Wright brothers soon found that their success was not appreciated by all. Many in the press, as well as fellow flight experts, were reluctant to believe the brothers’ claims at all. As a result, Wilbur set out for Europe in 1908, where he hoped he would have more success convincing the public and selling airplane.