Information Packet Primary Sources

The Wright Family

Wilbur Wright age 13

Wilbur Wright

At age thirteen, circa 1879. As a child, Wilbur was quiet and shy but was also very sure of himself.

Wilbur Wright

Wilbur Wright

April 16, 1867 - May 30, 1912. Of the two brothers, Wilbur dressed in a more reserved fashion and was always clean-shaven.

Orville Wright at age ten

Orville Wright

Age ten, circa 1880. Orville was a good student and won praise for his penmanship and reading abilities.

Orville Wright

Orville Wright

August 19, 1871 - January 30, 1948. Orville often dressed in trendy clothes and typically sported a trademark moustache.

Bishop Milton Wright

Bishop Milton Wright

1828-1917

Susan Koerner Wright

Susan Koerner Wright

1831-1889

Reuchlin Wright

Reuchlin Wright

1861-1920

Katharine Wright

Katharine Wright

1874-1929

Orville and Wilbur Wright

Orville and Wilbur Wright

Orville (left) and Wilbur (right) Wright taken at the Belmont Park, New York air meet in 1910. The Wrights often attended air meets with their airplanes and exhibition flight team to compete against other aviators and aviation companies.

The Wright Brothers Aeronautical Pursuits

Wilbur at the Wright Cycle Company

Wilbur working at the Wright Cycle Company, located at 1127 West Third Street in Dayton, Ohio. The skills that the Wrights gained through bicycle manufacturing would prove helpful later to their glider and airplane construction.

Wrights' 1900 Glider

Wrights' 1900 glider being flown as a kite in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This glider was usually flown as a kite, although Wilbur and a young local boy, Tom Tate, performed a few manned glides in order to test scientific principles.

Wind Tunnel

A replica of the Wright Brothers’ 1901 wind tunnel. The Wrights built the tunnel to test the accuracy of the scientific calculations of the German glider experimenter, Otto Lilienthal. They had used Lilienthal’s measurements to construct their disappointing 1900 glider. The Wrights' wind tunnel experiments proved that Lilienthal’s calculations were incorrect.

1902 Glider at Kitty Hawk

Wilbur piloting the 1902 glider at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Wrights designed their glider based upon the results of their 1901 wind tunnel experiments and made 700 - 1,000 glides in the glider.

First controlled flight, Kitty Hawk

The first controlled and powered flight in a heavier-than-air machine, taken on December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville manned the craft while Wilbur ran along next to it. The first flight lasted twelve seconds and covered a distance of 120 feet.

1904 Wright Flyer

The 1904 Wright Flyer was taken at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field in Dayton, Ohio. The Wrights made the world’s first turn and circle in an airplane using the 1904 Flyer.

1905 Wright Flyer

The 1905 Wright Flyer, taken at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field in Dayton, Ohio. The 1905 Wright Flyer is often referred to as the world's first practical airplane because it was capable of rising into the air, extended operator-controlled flight, and landing safely.

First airplane fatality

The first airplane fatality occurred on September 17, 1908 in Ft. Myer, Virginia during the Wright's Army contract trials. The accident occured after a propeller blade broke during a flight piloted by Orville. Orville was seriously injured and Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge died due to the accident.

Wright Exhibition Flight - Pau, France

Old and emerging travel technologies are juxtaposed in this 1909 photograph taken at the Wright exhibition flights at Pau, France.

Model A Airplane, Germany

German spectators enjoy the Wright demonstration of their Model A airplane in this photograph, which was taken during their 1909 European exhibition flights.

Flyer B Hydroplane

The Flyer B Hydroplane is being tested in 1912. The floats attached to the bottom of the boat allowed the pilot to land and take off from a body of water.

Canadian Aviators, Huffman Prairie

Canadian aviators pose for a 1915 portrait in front of a Wright aircraft at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field in Dayton, Ohio. The Wrights trained a large number of pilots at their flight school located at the site.

Documents

Wilbur at the Wright Cycle Company

Wilbur and Orville Report Cards

Discover what types of scholars the brothers were in school.

Wilbur Wright's letter to the Smithsonian Institution

Wilbur Wright's letter to the Smithsonian Institution

Wilbur wrote this letter to the Smithsonian institution in 1899 to inquire about aeronautics research. It is the first documented proof that he had become interested in the possibility of human flight.

Orville Wright's December 17, 1903 Diary Entry

What did Orville feel like after he made the first flight? Read his diary entry of December 17, 1903 to find out.

Bishop Milton Wright's 1903 Diary Selections

Bishop Milton Wright's 1903 Diary Selections

Selection from the diary of the Wright brothers’ father, Bishop Milton Wright.

Wright Brothers' Patent for the 1903 Flyer

Wright Brothers' Patent for the 1903 Flyer

This patent was granted to the Wrights in 1906 and protected them from other inventors who might have tried to steal their ideas.

U.S. Signal Corps Agreement

U.S. Signal Corps Agreement and Specifications for a Heavier-Than-Air Flying Machine

The Army Signal Corps was a predecessor to the United State Air Force. They made this agreement for the purchase of an airplane from the Wrights in 1908. Also included are the airplane specifications that the Wrights had to meet.

Girls Flew Too

"Girls Flew Too"

A reminiscence by Ivonette Wright Miller, niece of the Wright brothers. Ivonette Wright Miller was one of the first girls to fly in the United States. In this source she remembers what it was like to fly with her Uncle Orville in 1911.