|Birth Day:||August 19, 1871|
|Death Date:||Jan 30, 1948 (age 76)|
|Birth Place:||Dayton, United States|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
Aviation pioneer who, with his brother, Wilbur Wright, invented three-axis control and flew the first successful, albeit brief, "flying machine" in 1903.
As per our current Database, Orville Wright died on Jan 30, 1948 (age 76).
He dropped out of high school to pursue a career in the printing business with his brother Wilbur.
Because of their father's position as a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, he traveled often and the Wrights frequently moved—twelve times before finally returning permanently to Dayton in 1884. In elementary school, Orville was given to mischief and was once expelled. In 1878 when the family lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, their father brought home a toy helicopter for his two younger sons. The device was based on an invention of French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Pénaud. Made of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to twirl its rotor, it was about 1 ft (30 cm) long. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke, and then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the spark of their interest in flying.
Both brothers attended high school, but did not receive diplomas. The family's abrupt move in 1884 from Richmond, Indiana, to Dayton, Ohio, where the family had lived during the 1870s, prevented Wilbur from receiving his diploma after finishing four years of high school. The diploma was awarded posthumously to Wilbur on April 16, 1994, which would have been his 127th birthday.
In late 1885 or early 1886 Wilbur was struck in the face by a hockey stick while playing an ice-skating game with friends, resulting in the loss of his front teeth. He had been vigorous and athletic until then, and although his injuries did not appear especially severe, he became withdrawn. He had planned to attend Yale. Instead, he spent the next few years largely housebound. During this time he cared for his mother, who was terminally ill with tuberculosis, read extensively in his father's library and ably assisted his father during times of controversy within the Brethren Church, but also expressed unease over his own lack of ambition.
Orville dropped out of high school after his junior year to start a printing business in 1889, having designed and built his own printing press with Wilbur's help. Wilbur joined the print shop, and in March the brothers launched a weekly newspaper, the West Side News. Subsequent issues listed Orville as publisher and Wilbur as editor on the masthead. In April 1890 they converted the paper to a daily, The Evening Item, but it lasted only four months. They then focused on commercial printing. One of their clients was Orville's friend and classmate, Paul Laurence Dunbar, who rose to international acclaim as a ground-breaking African-American poet and writer. For a brief period the Wrights printed the Dayton Tattler, a weekly newspaper that Dunbar edited.
Capitalizing on the national bicycle craze (spurred by the invention of the safety bicycle and its substantial advantages over the penny-farthing design), in December 1892 the brothers opened a repair and sales shop (the Wright Cycle Exchange, later the Wright Cycle Company) and in 1896 began manufacturing their own brand. They used this endeavor to fund their growing interest in flight. In the early or mid-1890s they saw newspaper or magazine articles and probably photographs of the dramatic glides by Otto Lilienthal in Germany.
1896 brought three important aeronautical events. In May, Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Langley successfully flew an unmanned steam-powered fixed-wing model aircraft. In mid-year, Chicago engineer and aviation authority Octave Chanute brought together several men who tested various types of gliders over the sand dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan. In August, Lilienthal was killed in the plunge of his glider. These events lodged in the minds of the brothers, especially Lilienthal's death. The Wright brothers later cited his death as the point when their serious interest in flight research began. Wilbur said, "Lilienthal was without question the greatest of the precursors, and the world owes to him a great debt." In May 1899 Wilbur wrote a letter to the Smithsonian Institution requesting information and publications about aeronautics. Drawing on the work of Sir George Cayley, Chanute, Lilienthal, Leonardo da Vinci, and Langley, they began their mechanical aeronautical experimentation that year.
The Wrights based the design of their kite and full-size gliders on work done in the 1890s by other aviation pioneers. They adopted the basic design of the Chanute-Herring biplane hang glider ("double-decker" as the Wrights called it), which flew well in the 1896 experiments near Chicago, and used aeronautical data on lift that Otto Lilienthal had published. The Wrights designed the wings with camber, a curvature of the top surface. The brothers did not discover this principle, but took advantage of it. The better lift of a cambered surface compared to a flat one was first discussed scientifically by Sir George Cayley. Lilienthal, whose work the Wrights carefully studied, used cambered wings in his gliders, proving in flight the advantage over flat surfaces. The wooden uprights between the wings of the Wright glider were braced by wires in their own version of Chanute's modified Pratt truss, a bridge-building design he used for his biplane glider (initially built as a triplane). The Wrights mounted the horizontal elevator in front of the wings rather than behind, apparently believing this feature would help to avoid, or protect them from, a nosedive and crash like the one that killed Lilienthal. Wilbur incorrectly believed a tail was not necessary, and their first two gliders did not have one. According to some Wright biographers, Wilbur probably did all the gliding until 1902, perhaps to exercise his authority as older brother and to protect Orville from harm as he did not want to have to explain to their father, Bishop Wright, if Orville got injured.
Despite Lilienthal's fate, the brothers favored his strategy: to practice gliding in order to master the art of control before attempting motor-driven flight. The death of British aeronaut Percy Pilcher in another hang gliding crash in October 1899 only reinforced their opinion that a reliable method of pilot control was the key to successful—and safe—flight. At the outset of their experiments they regarded control as the unsolved third part of "the flying problem". They believed sufficiently promising knowledge of the other two issues—wings and engines—already existed. The Wright brothers thus differed sharply from more experienced practitioners of the day, notably Clément Ader, Maxim and Langley who built powerful engines, attached them to airframes equipped with unproven control devices, and expected to take to the air with no previous flying experience. Although agreeing with Lilienthal's idea of practice, the Wrights saw that his method of balance and control by shifting his body weight was inadequate. They were determined to find something better.
In July 1899 Wilbur put wing warping to the test by building and flying a biplane kite with a five-foot (1.5 m) wingspan. When the wings were warped, or twisted, one end of the wings produced more lift and the other end less lift. The unequal lift made the wings tilt, or bank: the end with more lift rose, while the other end dropped, causing a turn in the direction of the lower end. The warping was controlled by four cords attached to the kite, which led to two sticks held by the kite flyer, who tilted them in opposite directions to twist the wings.
In 1900 the brothers went to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to begin their manned gliding experiments. In his reply to Wilbur's first letter, Octave Chanute had suggested the mid-Atlantic coast for its regular breezes and soft sandy landing surface. Wilbur also requested and examined U.S. Weather Bureau data, and decided on Kitty Hawk after receiving information from the government meteorologist stationed there. Kitty Hawk, although remote, was closer to Dayton than other places Chanute had suggested, including California and Florida. The spot also gave them privacy from reporters, who had turned the 1896 Chanute experiments at Lake Michigan into something of a circus. Chanute visited them in camp each season from 1901 to 1903 and saw gliding experiments, but not the powered flights.
Before the detailed wind tunnel tests, Wilbur traveled to Chicago at Chanute's invitation to give a lecture to the Western Society of Engineers on September 18, 1901. He presented a thorough report about the 1900–01 glider experiments and complemented his talk with a lantern slide show of photographs. Wilbur's speech was the first public account of the brothers' experiments. A report was published in the Journal of the society, which was then separately published as an offprint titled Some Aeronautical Experiments in a 300 copy edition.
By 1902 they realized that wing-warping created "differential drag" at the wingtips. Greater lift at one end of the wing also increased drag, which slowed that end of the wing, making the glider swivel—or "yaw"—so the nose pointed away from the turn. That was how the tailless 1901 glider behaved.
With their new method the Wrights achieved true control in turns for the first time on October 8, 1902, a major milestone. From September 19 to October 24 they made between 700 and 1,000 glides, the longest lasting 26 seconds and covering 622.5 feet (189.7 m). Hundreds of well-controlled glides after they made the rudder steerable convinced them they were ready to build a powered flying machine.
Modern analysis by Professor Fred E. C. Culick and Henry R. Jex (in 1985) has demonstrated that the 1903 Wright Flyer was so unstable as to be almost unmanageable by anyone but the Wrights, who had trained themselves in the 1902 glider. In a recreation attempt on the event's 100th anniversary on December 17, 2003, Kevin Kochersberger, piloting an exact replica, failed in his effort to match the success that the Wright brothers had achieved with their piloting skill.
Thus did three-axis control evolve: wing-warping for roll (lateral motion), forward elevator for pitch (up and down) and rear rudder for yaw (side to side). On March 23, 1903, the Wrights applied for their famous patent for a "Flying Machine", based on their successful 1902 glider. Some aviation historians believe that applying the system of three-axis flight control on the 1902 glider was equal to, or even more significant, than the addition of power to the 1903 Flyer. Peter Jakab of the Smithsonian asserts that perfection of the 1902 glider essentially represents invention of the airplane.
In 1903 the brothers built the powered Wright Flyer, using their preferred material for construction, spruce, a strong and lightweight wood, and Pride of the West muslin for surface coverings. They also designed and carved their own wooden propellers, and had a purpose-built gasoline engine fabricated in their bicycle shop. They thought propeller design would be a simple matter and intended to adapt data from shipbuilding. However, their library research disclosed no established formulae for either marine or air propellers, and they found themselves with no sure starting point. They discussed and argued the question, sometimes heatedly, until they concluded that an aeronautical propeller is essentially a wing rotating in the vertical plane. On that basis, they used data from more wind tunnel tests to design their propellers. The finished blades were just over eight feet long, made of three laminations of glued spruce. The Wrights decided on twin "pusher" propellers (counter-rotating to cancel torque), which would act on a greater quantity of air than a single relatively slow propeller and not disturb airflow over the leading edge of the wings.
Wilbur made a March 1903 entry in his notebook indicating the prototype propeller was 66% efficient. Modern wind tunnel tests on reproduction 1903 propellers show they were more than 75% efficient under the conditions of the first flights, "a remarkable feat", and actually had a peak efficiency of 82%. The Wrights wrote to several engine manufacturers, but none could meet their need for a sufficiently lightweight powerplant. They turned to their shop mechanic, Charlie Taylor, who built an engine in just six weeks in close consultation with the brothers. To keep the weight down the engine block was cast from aluminum, a rare practice at the time. The Wright/Taylor engine had a primitive version of a carburetor, and had no fuel pump. Gasoline was gravity-fed from the fuel tank mounted on a wing strut into a chamber next to the cylinders where it was mixed with air: the fuel-air mixture was then vaporized by heat from the crankcase, forcing it into the cylinders.
The propeller drive chains, resembling those of bicycles, were supplied by a manufacturer of heavy-duty automobile chains. The Flyer cost less than a thousand dollars, in contrast to more than $50,000 in government funds given to Samuel Langley for his man-carrying Great Aerodrome. In 1903 $1000 was equivalent to $28,000 in 2019. The Wright Flyer had a wingspan of 40.3 ft (12.3 m), weighed 605 lb (274 kg) and had a 12 horsepower (8.9 kW) 180 lb (82 kg) engine.
In camp at Kill Devil Hills, they endured weeks of delays caused by broken propeller shafts during engine tests. After the shafts were replaced (requiring two trips back to Dayton), Wilbur won a coin toss and made a three-second flight attempt on December 14, 1903, stalling after takeoff and causing minor damage to the Flyer. Because December 13, 1903, was a Sunday, the brothers did not make any attempts that day, even though the weather was good, so their first powered test flight happened on the 121st anniversary of the first hot air balloon test flight that the Montgolfier brothers had done, on December 14, 1782. In a message to their family, Wilbur referred to the trial as having "only partial success", stating "the power is ample, and but for a trifling error due to lack of experience with this machine and this method of starting, the machine would undoubtedly have flown beautifully."
Following repairs, the Wrights finally took to the air on December 17, 1903, making two flights each from level ground into a freezing headwind gusting to 27 miles per hour (43 km/h). The first flight, by Orville at 10:35 am, of 120 feet (37 m) in 12 seconds, at a speed of only 6.8 miles per hour (10.9 km/h) over the ground, was recorded in a famous photograph. The next two flights covered approximately 175 and 200 feet (53 and 61 m), by Wilbur and Orville respectively. Their altitude was about 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground. The following is Orville Wright's account of the final flight of the day:
In 1904 the Wrights built the Wright Flyer II. They decided to avoid the expense of travel and bringing supplies to the Outer Banks and set up an airfield at Huffman Prairie, a cow pasture eight miles (13 km) northeast of Dayton. The Wrights referred to the airfield as Simms Station in their flying school brochure. They received permission to use the field rent-free from owner and bank president Torrance Huffman. They invited reporters to their first flight attempt of the year on May 23, on the condition that no photographs be taken. Engine troubles and slack winds prevented any flying, and they could manage only a very short hop a few days later with fewer reporters present. Library of Congress historian Fred Howard noted some speculation that the brothers may have intentionally failed to fly in order to cause reporters to lose interest in their experiments. Whether that is true is not known, but after their poor showing local newspapers virtually ignored them for the next year and a half.
At Huffman Prairie, lighter winds made takeoffs harder, and they had to use a longer starting rail than the 60-foot (18 m) rail used at Kitty Hawk. The first flights in 1904 revealed problems with longitudinal stability, solved by adding ballast and lengthening the supports for the elevator. During the spring and summer they suffered many hard landings, often damaging the aircraft and causing minor injuries. On August 13, making an unassisted takeoff, Wilbur finally exceeded their best Kitty Hawk effort with a flight of 1,300 feet (400 m). Then they decided to use a weight-powered catapult to make takeoffs easier and tried it for the first time on September 7. On September 20, 1904, Wilbur flew the first complete circle in history by a manned heavier-than-air powered machine, covering 4,080 feet (1,244 m) in about a minute and a half. Their two best flights were November 9 by Wilbur and December 1 by Orville, each exceeding five minutes and covering nearly three miles in almost four circles. By the end of the year the brothers had accumulated about 50 minutes in the air in 105 flights over the rather soggy 85 acres (34 ha) pasture, which, remarkably, is virtually unchanged today from its original condition and is now part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, adjacent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
The only photos of the flights of 1904–1905 were taken by the brothers. (A few photos were damaged in the Great Dayton Flood of 1913, but most survived intact.) In 1904 Ohio beekeeping businessman Amos Root, a technology enthusiast, saw a few flights including the first circle. Articles he wrote for his beekeeping magazine were the only published eyewitness reports of the Huffman Prairie flights, except for the unimpressive early hop local newsmen saw. Root offered a report to Scientific American magazine, but the editor turned it down. As a result, the news was not widely known outside Ohio, and was often met with skepticism. The Paris edition of the Herald Tribune headlined a 1906 article on the Wrights "FLYERS OR LIARS?"
In October 1904, the brothers were visited by the first of many important Europeans they would befriend in coming years, Colonel J. E. Capper, later superintendent of the Royal Balloon Factory. Capper and his wife were visiting the United States to investigate the aeronautical exhibits at the St. Louis World Fair, but had been given a letter of introduction to both Chanute and the Wrights by Patrick Alexander. Capper was very favorably impressed by the Wrights, who showed him photographs of their aircraft in flight.
The Wright brothers wrote their 1903 patent application themselves, but it was rejected. In January 1904, they hired Ohio patent attorney Henry Toulmin, and on May 22, 1906, they were granted U.S. Patent 821393 for "new and useful Improvements in Flying Machines".
The Wrights scrapped the battered and much-repaired aircraft, but saved the engine, and in 1905 built a new airplane, the Flyer III. Nevertheless, at first this Flyer offered the same marginal performance as the first two. Its maiden flight was on June 23 and the first few flights were no longer than 10 seconds. After Orville suffered a bone-jarring and potentially fatal crash on July 14, they rebuilt the Flyer with the forward elevator and rear rudder both enlarged and placed several feet farther away from the wings. They also installed a separate control for the rear rudder instead of linking it to the wing-warping "cradle" as before. Each of the three axes—pitch, roll and yaw—now had its own independent control. These modifications greatly improved stability and control, enabling a series of six dramatic "long flights" ranging from 17 to 38 minutes and 11 to 24 miles (39 km) around the three-quarter mile course over Huffman Prairie between September 26 and October 5. Wilbur made the last and longest flight, 24.5 miles (39.4 km) in 38 minutes and 3 seconds, ending with a safe landing when the fuel ran out. The flight was seen by a number of people, including several invited friends, their father Milton, and neighboring farmers.
In 1906 skeptics in the European aviation community had converted the press to an anti-Wright brothers stance. European newspapers, especially those in France, were openly derisive, calling them bluffeurs (bluffers).
Ernest Archdeacon, founder of the Aéro-Club de France, was publicly scornful of the brothers' claims in spite of published reports; specifically, he wrote several articles and, in 1906, stated that "the French would make the first public demonstration of powered flight".
The Wright brothers made no flights at all in 1906 and 1907. They spent the time attempting to persuade the U.S. and European governments that they had invented a successful flying machine and were prepared to negotiate a contract to sell such machines. They also experimented with a pontoon and engine setup on the Miami River (Ohio) in hopes of flying from the water. These experiments proved unsuccessful.
Samuel Pierpont Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution from 1887 until his death in 1906, experimented for years with model flying machines and successfully flew unmanned powered fixed-wing model aircraft in 1896 and 1903. Two tests of his manned full-size motor-driven Aerodrome in October and December 1903, however, were complete failures. Nevertheless, the Smithsonian later proudly displayed the Aerodrome in its museum as the first heavier-than-air craft "capable" of manned powered flight, relegating the Wright brothers' invention to secondary status and triggering a decades-long feud with Orville Wright, whose brother had received help from the Smithsonian when beginning his own quest for flight. (Ironically, the Wright brothers were the initial recipients of the Samuel P. Langley Medal for Aerodromics from the Smithsonian in 1910.)
Replying to the Wrights' letters, the U.S. military expressed virtually no interest in their claims. The brothers turned their attention to Europe, especially France, where enthusiasm for aviation ran high, and journeyed there for the first time in 1907 for face-to-face talks with government officials and businessmen. They also met with aviation representatives in Germany and Britain. Before traveling, Orville shipped a newly built Model A Flyer to France in anticipation of demonstration flights.
In France Wilbur met Frank P. Lahm, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Aeronautical Division. Writing to his superiors, Lahm smoothed the way for Wilbur to give an in-person presentation to the U.S. Board of Ordnance and Fortification in Washington, D.C. when he returned to the U.S. This time, the Board was favorably impressed, in contrast to its previous indifference. With further input from the Wrights, the U.S. Army Signal Corps issued Specification #486 in December 1907, inviting bids for construction of a flying machine under military contract. The Wrights submitted their bid in January. In early 1908 the brothers also agreed to a contract with a French company. In May they went back to Kitty Hawk with their 1905 Flyer to practice in private for their all-important public demonstration flights, as required by both contracts. Their privacy was lost when New York newspapers heard about the tests and sent several reporters to the scene.
In 1908, after the Wrights' first flights in France, Archdeacon publicly admitted that he had done them an injustice.
Facing much skepticism in the French aeronautical community and outright scorn by some newspapers that called him a "bluffeur", Wilbur began official public demonstrations on August 8, 1908, at the Hunaudières horse racing track near the town of Le Mans, France. His first flight lasted only one minute 45 seconds, but his ability to effortlessly make banking turns and fly a circle amazed and stunned onlookers, including several pioneer French aviators, among them Louis Blériot. In the following days, Wilbur made a series of technically challenging flights, including figure-eights, demonstrating his skills as a pilot and the capability of his flying machine, which far surpassed those of all other pioneering aircraft and pilots of the day.
On October 7, 1908, Edith Berg, the wife of the brothers' European business agent, became the first American woman passenger when she flew with Wilbur—one of many passengers who rode with him that autumn. Wilbur also became acquainted with Léon Bollée and his family. Bollée was the owner of an automobile factory where Wilbur would assemble the Flyer and where he would be provided with hired assistance. Bollée would fly that autumn with Wilbur. Madame Bollée had been in the latter stages of pregnancy when Wilbur arrived in LeMans in June 1908 to assemble the Flyer. Wilbur promised her that he would make his first European flight the day her baby was born which he did, August 8, 1908.
Orville followed his brother's success by demonstrating another nearly identical Flyer to the United States Army at Fort Myer, Virginia, starting on September 3, 1908. On September 9, he made the first hour-long flight, lasting 62 minutes and 15 seconds.
Curtiss was at the time a member of the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), headed by Alexander Graham Bell, where in 1908 he had helped reinvent wingtip ailerons for their Aerodrome No. 2, known as the AEA White Wing (the AEA's other members became dismayed when Curtiss unexpectedly dropped out of their organization; they later came to believe he had sold the rights to their joint innovation to the United States Government).
Deeply shocked and upset by the accident, Wilbur determined to make even more impressive flight demonstrations; in the ensuing days and weeks he set new records for altitude and duration. In January 1909 Orville and Katharine joined him in France, and for a time they were the three most famous people in the world, sought after by royalty, the rich, reporters and the public. The kings of Great Britain, Spain and Italy came to see Wilbur fly.
After their return to the U.S., the brothers and Katharine were invited to the White House where President Taft bestowed awards upon them. Dayton followed up with a lavish two-day homecoming celebration. In July 1909 Orville, with Wilbur assisting, completed the proving flights for the U.S. Army, meeting the requirements of a two-seater able to fly with a passenger for an hour at an average of speed of 40 miles an hour (64 km/h) and land undamaged. They sold the airplane to the Army's Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps for $30,000 (equivalent to $854,000 in 2019), including a $5,000 bonus for exceeding the speed specification. Wilbur climaxed an extraordinary year in early October when he flew at New York City's Hudson-Fulton Celebration, circling the Statue of Liberty and making a 33-minute flight up and down the Hudson River alongside Manhattan in view of up to one million New Yorkers. These flights solidly established the fame of the Wright brothers in America.
Curtiss refused to pay license fees to the Wrights and sold an airplane equipped with ailerons to the Aeronautic Society of New York in 1909. The Wrights filed a lawsuit, beginning a years-long legal conflict. They also sued foreign aviators who flew at U.S. exhibitions, including the leading French aviator Louis Paulhan. The Curtiss people derisively suggested that if someone jumped in the air and waved his arms, the Wrights would sue.
The Wright Company was incorporated on November 22, 1909. The brothers sold their patents to the company for $100,000 and also received one-third of the shares in a million dollar stock issue and a 10 percent royalty on every airplane sold. With Wilbur as president and Orville as vice president, the company set up a factory in Dayton and a flying school/test flight field at Huffman Prairie; the headquarters office was in New York City.
On May 25, 1910, back at Huffman Prairie, Orville piloted two unique flights. First, he took off on a six-minute flight with Wilbur as his passenger, the only time the Wright brothers ever flew together. They received permission from their father to make the flight. They had always promised Milton they would never fly together to avoid the chance of a double tragedy and to ensure one brother would remain to continue their experiments. Next, Orville took his 82-year-old father on a nearly seven-minute flight, the only one of Milton Wright's life. The aircraft rose to about 350 feet (107 m) while the elderly Wright called to his son, "Higher, Orville, higher!"
From 1910 until his death from typhoid fever in 1912, Wilbur took the leading role in the patent struggle, traveling incessantly to consult with lawyers and testify in what he felt was a moral cause, particularly against Curtiss, who was creating a large company to manufacture aircraft. The Wrights' preoccupation with the legal issue stifled their work on new designs, and by 1911 Wright airplanes were considered inferior to those of European makers. Indeed, aviation development in the U.S. was suppressed to such an extent that when the U.S. entered World War I no acceptable American-designed airplanes were available, and U.S. forces were compelled to use French machines. Orville and Katharine Wright believed Curtiss was partly responsible for Wilbur's premature death, which occurred in the wake of his exhausting travels and the stress of the legal battle.
The Wright Company transported the first known commercial air cargo on November 7, 1910, by flying two bolts of dress silk 65 miles (105 km) from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio, for the Morehouse-Martens Department Store, which paid a $5,000 fee. Company pilot Phil Parmelee made the flight—which was more an exercise in advertising than a simple delivery—in an hour and six minutes with the cargo strapped in the passenger's seat. The silk was cut into small pieces and sold as souvenirs.
Between 1910 and 1916 the Wright Brothers Flying School at Huffman Prairie trained 115 pilots who were instructed by Orville and his assistants. Several trainees became famous, including Henry "Hap" Arnold, who rose to Five-Star General, commanded U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, and became first head of the U.S. Air Force; Calbraith Perry Rodgers, who made the first coast-to-coast flight in 1911 (with many stops and crashes) in a Wright Model EX named the "Vin Fiz" after the sponsor's grape soft drink; and Eddie Stinson, founder of the Stinson Aircraft Company.
In October 1911, Orville Wright returned to the Outer Banks again, to conduct safety and stabilization tests with a new glider. On October 24, he soared for 9 minutes and 45 seconds, a record that held for almost 10 years, when gliding as a sport began in the 1920s.
There were not many customers for airplanes, so in the spring of 1910 the Wrights hired and trained a team of salaried exhibition pilots to show off their machines and win prize money for the company—despite Wilbur's disdain for what he called "the mountebank business". The team debuted at the Indianapolis Speedway on June 13. Before the year was over, pilots Ralph Johnstone and Arch Hoxsey died in air show crashes, and in November 1911 the brothers disbanded the team on which nine men had served (four other former team members died in crashes afterward).
Neither brother married. Wilbur once quipped that he did not have time for both a wife and an airplane. Following a brief training flight he gave to a German pilot in Berlin in June 1911, Wilbur never flew again. He gradually became occupied with business matters for the Wright Company and dealing with different lawsuits. Upon dealing with the patent lawsuits, which had put great strain on both brothers, Wilbur had written in a letter to a French friend, "When we think what we might have accomplished if we had been able to devote this time to experiments, we feel very sad, but it is always easier to deal with things than with men, and no one can direct his life entirely as he would choose." Wilbur spent the next year before his death traveling, where he spent a full six months in Europe attending to various business and legal matters. Wilbur urged American cities to emulate the European—particularly Parisian—philosophy of apportioning generous public space near every important public building. He was also constantly back and forth between New York, Washington and Dayton. All of the stresses were taking a toll on Wilbur physically. Orville would remark that he would "come home white".
He became ill on a business trip to Boston in April 1912. The illness is sometimes attributed to eating bad shellfish at a banquet. After returning to Dayton in early May 1912, worn down in mind and body, he fell ill again and was diagnosed with typhoid fever. He lingered on, his symptoms relapsing and remitting for many days. Wilbur died, at age 45, at the Wright family home on May 30. His father wrote about Wilbur in his diary:
In January 1914, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict against the Curtiss company, which continued to avoid penalties through legal tactics. Orville apparently felt vindicated by the decision, and much to the frustration of company executives, he did not push vigorously for further legal action to ensure a manufacturing monopoly. In fact, he was planning to sell the company and departed in 1915. In 1917, with World War I underway, the U.S. government pressured the industry to form a cross-licensing organization, the Manufacturers Aircraft Association, to which member companies paid a blanket fee for the use of aviation patents, including the original and subsequent Wright patents. The Wright-Martin company (successor to the Wright company) and the Curtiss company (which held a number of its own patents) each received a $2 million payment. The "patent war" ended, although side issues lingered in the courts until the 1920s. In a twist of irony, the Wright Aeronautical Corporation (another successor) and the Curtiss Aeroplane company merged in 1929 to form the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, which remains in business today producing high-tech components for the aerospace industry.
The Smithsonian based its claim for the Aerodrome on short test flights Glenn Curtiss and his team made with it in 1914. The Smithsonian allowed Curtiss, in an unsavory alliance, to make major modifications to the craft before attempting to fly it.
It was decided by the family that a new and far grander house would be built, using the money that the Wrights had earned through their inventions and business. Called affectionately Hawthorn Hill, building had begun in the Dayton suburb of Oakwood, Ohio, while Wilbur was in Europe. Katharine and Orville oversaw the project in his absence. Wilbur's one known expression upon the design of the house was that he have a room and bathroom of his own. The brothers hired Schenck and Williams, an architectural firm, to design the house, along with input from both Wilbur and Orville. Wilbur did not live to see its completion in 1914.
Orville succeeded to the presidency of the Wright Company upon Wilbur's death. Sharing Wilbur's distaste for business but not his brother's executive skills, Orville sold the company in 1915. The Wright Company then became part of Wright-Martin in 1916.
European companies which bought foreign patents the Wrights had received sued other manufacturers in their countries. Those lawsuits were only partly successful. Despite a pro-Wright ruling in France, legal maneuvering dragged on until the patent expired in 1917. A German court ruled the patent not valid because of prior disclosure in speeches by Wilbur Wright in 1901 and Chanute in 1903. In the U.S. the Wrights made an agreement with the Aero Club of America to license airshows which the Club approved, freeing participating pilots from a legal threat. Promoters of approved shows paid fees to the Wrights. The Wright brothers won their initial case against Curtiss in February 1913 when a judge ruled that ailerons were covered under the patent. The Curtiss company appealed the decision.
After 42 years living at their residence on 7 Hawthorn Street, Orville, Katharine and their father, Milton, moved to Hawthorn Hill in the spring of 1914. Milton died in his sleep on April 3, 1917, at the age of 88. Up until his death, Milton had been very active, preoccupied with reading, writing articles for religious publications and enjoying his morning walks. He had also marched in a Dayton Woman's Suffrage Parade, along with Orville and Katharine.
Orville made his last flight as a pilot in 1918 in a 1911 Model B. He retired from business and became an elder statesman of aviation, serving on various official boards and committees, including the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), predecessor agency to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce (ACCA), predecessor to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).
Katharine married Henry Haskell of Kansas City, a former Oberlin classmate, in 1926. Orville was furious and inconsolable, feeling he had been betrayed by Katharine. He refused to attend the wedding or even communicate with her. He finally agreed to see her, apparently at Lorin's insistence, just before she died of pneumonia on March 3, 1929.
Orville repeatedly objected to misrepresentation of the Aerodrome, but the Smithsonian was unyielding. Orville responded by lending the restored 1903 Kitty Hawk Flyer to the London Science Museum in 1928, refusing to donate it to the Smithsonian while the Institution "perverted" the history of the flying machine. Orville would never see his invention again as he would die before its return to the United States. Charles Lindbergh attempted to mediate the dispute, to no avail. In 1942, after years of bad publicity, and encouraged by Wright biographer Fred C. Kelly, the Smithsonian finally relented by publishing, for the first time, a list of the Aerodrome modifications and recanting misleading statements it had made about the 1914 tests. Orville then privately requested the British museum to return the Flyer, but the airplane remained in protective storage for the duration of World War II and finally came home after Orville's death.
Orville Wright served NACA for 28 years. In 1930, he received the first Daniel Guggenheim Medal established in 1928 by the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics. In 1936, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Notwithstanding the competition between those two states, in 1937 the Wrights' final bicycle shop and home were moved from Dayton to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, where they remain.
On April 19, 1944, the second production Lockheed Constellation, piloted by Howard Hughes and TWA president Jack Frye, flew from Burbank, California, to Washington, D.C. in 6 hours and 57 minutes (2300 mi, 330.9 mph). On the return trip, the airliner stopped at Wright Field to give Orville Wright his last airplane flight, more than 40 years after his historic first flight. He may even have briefly handled the controls. He commented that the wingspan of the Constellation was longer than the distance of his first flight.
Five people witnessed the flights: Adam Etheridge, John T. Daniels (who snapped the famous "first flight" photo using Orville's pre-positioned camera) and Will Dough, all of the U.S. government coastal lifesaving crew; area businessman W.C. Brinkley; and Johnny Moore, a teenaged boy who lived in the area. After the men hauled the Flyer back from its fourth flight, a powerful gust of wind flipped it over several times, despite the crew's attempt to hold it down. Severely damaged, the Wright Flyer never flew again. The brothers shipped the airplane home, and years later Orville restored it, lending it to several U.S. locations for display, then to a British museum (see Smithsonian dispute below), before it was finally installed in 1948 in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., its current residence.
On November 23, 1948, the executors of Orville's estate signed an agreement for the Smithsonian to purchase the Flyer for one dollar. At the insistence of the executors, the agreement also included strict conditions for display of the airplane.
The agreement reads, in part, "Neither the Smithsonian Institution or its successors, nor any museum or other agency, bureau or facilities administered for the United States of America by the Smithsonian Institution or its successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date than the 1903 Wright Aeroplane, claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight." If this agreement is not fulfilled, the Flyer can be reclaimed by the heir of the Wright brothers. Some aviation enthusiasts, particularly those who promote the legacy of Gustave Whitehead, now accuse the Smithsonian of refusing to investigate claims of earlier flights. After a ceremony in the Smithsonian museum, the Flyer went on public display on December 17, 1948, the 45th anniversary of the only day it was flown successfully. The Wright brothers' nephew Milton (Lorin's son), who had seen gliders and the Flyer under construction in the bicycle shop when he was a boy, gave a brief speech and formally transferred the airplane to the Smithsonian, which displayed it with the accompanying label:
Orville died at age 76 on January 30, 1948, over 35 years after his brother, following his second heart attack, having lived from the horse-and-buggy age to the dawn of supersonic flight. Both brothers are buried in the family plot at Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio. John T. Daniels, the Coast Guardsman who took their famous first flight photo, died the day after Orville.
|#4||Wilbur Wright||Brother||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||45||Inventor|
|#5||Milton Wright||Father||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||191||Celebrity Family Member|
|#8||Susan Catherine Koerner||Mother||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Currently, Orville Wright is 151 years, 1 months and 9 days old. Orville Wright will celebrate 152nd birthday on a Saturday 19th of August 2023. Below we countdown to Orville Wright upcoming birthday.