The invention of the airplane

Date:1903 Inventor:willbur and oruille wright

making the airplane in 1903

Hoping to improve lift, they built the 1901 glider with a much larger wing area and made dozens of flights in July and August for distances of 50 to 400 ft. (15 to 122 m).432 The glider stalled a few times, but the parachute effect of the forward elevator allowed Wilbur to make a safe flat landing, instead of a nose-dive. These incidents wedded the Wrights even more strongly to the canard design, which they did not give up until 1910. The glider, however, delivered two major disappointments. It produced only about one-third the lift calculated and sometimes pointed opposite the intended direction of a turn–a problem later known as adverse yaw–when Wilbur used the wing-warping control. On the trip home a deeply dejected Wilbur remarked to Orville that man would not fly in a thousand years.47

Wilbur just after landing the 1901 glider. Glider skid marks are visible behind it, and marks from a previous landing are seen in front; Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

The poor lift of the gliders led the Wrights to question the accuracy of Lilienthal's data, as well as the "seated coefficient" of air pressure, a value which had been in use for over 200 years and was part of the accepted equation for lift.