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The Wright Brothers: Innovative Engineers Essay

1074 words - 5 pages

“If birds can glide for long periods of time, then… why can’t I?” Orville Wright wondered. Orville and his older brother, Wilbur Wright, invented the first flying heavier-than-air aircraft. Being pushed to explore different hobbies as children, the two brothers stumbled upon the idea of flight at a young age, but drifted away from the interest as they grew up. After seeing a news article in the mid-1890s about gliders, the brothers took a renewed interest in airplanes, which led to their attempts to build different models of aircrafts. Soon after building their first successful aircraft, the brothers signed a contract with the United States military to build airplanes for the army. The ...view middle of the document...

The brothers experimented functions with their design theories by producing different gliders in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. After many tests, the brothers constructed the first heavier-than-air aircraft flown by a pilot. Their plane had to generate enough lift to keep it in the air while overcoming the opposite drag force. On top of these forces, Wilbur and Orville had to confirm that the plane could manage the weight of itself and the pilot. The Wright Brothers used a narrow wingspan to maximize lift and a 12 horsepower engine to keep the plane flying (Parts of an Aircraft). On December 14, 1903, Wilbur Wright became the first person to fly in an airplane. Orville Wright took his first ride three days later on December 17, 1903.
In February 1908, the Wright Brothers signed a contract with the United States military. They agreed to make the “Military Flyer,” a one-of-a-kind Wright Model A airplane, in exchange for $25,000, equivalent to about $653,000 today (Measuring Worth). In addition to their agreement with the U.S. Military, the brothers signed a second contract with French investors who would build and sell Wright Model As (Crouch). The Military Flyer had a wingspan of 36 feet and five inches, a height of eight feet, an empty weight of 740 pounds, and a maximum speed of 42 miles per hour. The aircraft was capable of carrying the pilot and one passenger for a maximum weight of 1,263 pounds (Evolution of Flight Chart). On September 3, 1908, the plane was flown in Fort Myer, Virginia for a U.S. Army Trial. Originally, the contract asked for a plane capable flying a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour (mph) for one hour and for every mile per hour above that, the deal would go up $2,500 (Tames page 45). When the plane was tested, it had a maximum speed of 42 mph, resulting in an extra $5,000, for a total amount of $30,000. After only one crash on September 17, 1908, the brothers completed the Army Trials in 1909 (Crouch). After the trials were completed, planes had begun to be manufactured for the U.S. Army.

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