Secondary sources: Wright Brothers Timeline

Timeline | Evolution of Flight Chart | Guide to Some Basic Archival Terms

April 16, 1867: Wilbur Wright is born is born on a farm not far from New Castle, Indiana.

August 19, 1871: Orville Wright is born in Dayton, Ohio.

1889: The Wright brothers open a printing business, Wright & Wright Job Printers, in Dayton, Ohio.

1892: The Wright brothers open a bicycle business in Dayton, Ohio. The business was originally called the Wright Cycle Exchange, but the brothers eventually changed its name to the Wright Cycle Company.

May 30, 1899: Having read of the aeronautical work of Cayley, Penaud, and Maurey in books in his father's library, Wilbur writes the Smithsonian Institution inquiring about additional publications on aeronautical subjects.

May 13, 1900: Wilbur writes to Octave Chanute-civil engineer, aerial experimenter, and author of the book Progress in Flying Machines (1894), to describe the system of control the Wrights had been using in their kite experiments. The letter marked the beginning of a long friendship between the Wrights and Chanute that would last until May 1910, several months before Chanute's death on November 23.

September 12, 1900- October 23, 1900: The Wright brothers visit Kitty Hawk, a town located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, for the first time. They selected this location because it provided them with the high winds and isolation they needed to conduct their experiments. During this time period, the brothers tested their 1900 glider with mixed success.

July 11- August 22, 1901: The Wrights return to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to test their 1901 glider at Kill Devil Hill, near Kitty Hawk. The unsuccessful results of their experiments with the glider led Orville to proclaim that, "Not within a thousand years would man ever fly".

October- December, 1901: The Wright brothers conduct further tests of their airfoils with wind tunnel and pressure-testing balances of their own design, becoming the first investigators to compile tables of figures from which it was possible to design an airplane that would fly.

August, 1902: The Wright brothers complete construction of their 1902 glider, which was designed on the basis of their wind tunnel experiments. They leave for The Outer Banks of North Carolina with their glider on August 25.

September 19 - October 24, 1902: The Wrights make 700-1,000 successful glides with their 1902 glider at Kill Devil Hill, near the town of Kitty Hawk, located on the Outer banks of North Carolina.

December 15, 1902: Orville and Wilbur commence plans for a new flying machine to be equipped with motor and propellers by conducting propeller experiments and beginning construction of a four-cylinder engine.

Early 1903: The Wrights build a second wind tunnel to ensure greater accuracy in measurements than those obtained in the tests made by their 1901 wind tunnel.

February 12-13, 1903: The Wright brothers and their mechanic, Charles Taylor, complete and begin to test the 1903 motor. The motor's body and frame crack during the tests and it is determined that a new aluminum casting is needed.

October 9, 1903: Orville and Wilbur start to assemble their 1903 machine at Kill Devil Hill.

December 14, 1903: Wilbur makes the first and unsuccessful attempt to fly with the power machine from the slope of Kill Devil Hill.

December 17, 1903: The Wrights make the world's first free, controlled and sustained flights in a power-driven, heavier than air machine. The first of the four flights made this day lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. The longest flight lasted 59 seconds and flew 852 feet . After the fourth flight of the day, the 1903 Flyer was destroyed when a large gust of wind rolled the machine over.

April-May, 1904: The Wright brothers construct an entirely new, heavier and stronger machine at Huffman Prairie Flying Field, eight miles outside of Dayton, Ohio.

September 15, 1904: Wilbur makes the first half-circle turn in air at Huffman Prairie Flying Field.

September 20, 1904: Orville makes the first complete circle in the air at Huffman Prairie Flying Field.

May 22, 1906: U.S. Patent Office grants basic Wright patent, No.821,393, for their 1903 flying machine.

February 8, 1908: The Wrights' bid to furnish a flying machine to the U.S. War Department for $25,000 is accepted.

May 14, 1908: The Wrights carry a passenger on their plane for the first time, Charles W. Furnas of Dayton. The event took place at Kill Devil Hill.

August 8, 1908: The Wrights make their first public exhibition flight and their first European flight at the Hunaudiéres Race Course at Le Mans, France.

September 17, 1908: The first airplane fatality occurs when a propeller blade breaks on a Wright machine at Fort Myer, VA. Orville Wright was seriously injured and Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge died during the accident. This incident terminated the Wright Army Trials for the year.

November 22, 1909: The Wright Company is incorporated, with Wilbur Wright as president and Orville Wright and Andrew Freedman serving as vice-presidents.

May 5, 1910: The Wright Company starts a flight school at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field in Dayton, Ohio with Orville in charge of instruction. The school was in operation from 1910 to 1916. The Wrights' first school was located in Montgomery, Alabama.

May 25, 1910: Orville and Wilbur make their first and only flight together at Huffman Prairie Flying Field.

May 30, 1912: Wilbur dies at the age of 45 after a month-long bout with typhoid fever.

January 13, 1913: Orville begins tests of the airplane automatic stabilizer, the last aviation innovation that he and Wilbur worked on together. The device was patented on October 14, 1913.

October 15, 1915: The Wright company is sold to a syndicate, allowing Orville to devote himself fully to research. Orville continues to serve the company as a consulting engineer, however, until August 11, 1916.

June-November, 1916: Orville moves from the bicycle shop at 1127 W. Third Street into his newly designed aeronautical laboratory, located at 15 N. Broadway. This site will serve as his headquarters for the rest of his life.

May 13, 1918: Orville makes his final flight as a pilot, flying an early 1912 model biplane.

January 30, 1948: Orville Wright dies at the age of 77 due to a heart attack.

Timeline in Pictures

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