The history of the airplane is a rather confusing tale. Many different people contributed to flying machines, but the Wright Brothers win the medal!
The earliest account of air travel seems to be by the Greek mathematician and philosopher Archytas, who was supposed to have built a flying machine run on steam that could fly about 600 feet. Unfortunately, there is not much proof about this.
The 11th century monk Eilmer, the poet Abbas, Leonardo da Vinci and Francoise Pilartre de Rozier, experimented with gliders, aircraft designs and an air balloon and are considered important contributors to the history of air travel.
The discoverer of the laws of aerodynamics, George Cayley, in 1803 tested the laws out on gliders, while John Montgomery created the world’s first controlled glider 80 years later. These events together laid the foundation for the Wright Brothers.
The reason Orville and Wilbur Wright are considered the inventors of the airplane is that they were the first to build a plane that was powered by an engine, and because their plane was the first in history that was controlled with gears, making theirs the first human flight.
An airplane is a flying machine, a mode of transportation, which has a fixed wing and is powered by propellers or jets. They can be thought of as mechanical birds.
On the 14th/17th of December 1903, the Wright brothers’ airplane rose into the air by its own power, flew at a constant speed, and landed without damaging the machine or its passenger.
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale judged their first flight as the only one to be continuous.
Two years after that, they improved Wright Flyer III to make the world’s first practical fixed wing aircraft. Their secret was their invention of the three-axis control so the pilot can steer the plane, and balance it up in air.
Orville and Wilbur Wright were two of Milton and Susan Wright’s seven children. Wilbur the elder of the two was born in 1967, and Orville was born 4 years later in 1871. They were naughty as kids, but neither was able to complete high school.
Their interest in flight came from playing with a toy helicopter their father brought them when they were quite young. The boys played with it till it broke, and then built one of their own.
Orville owned a small printing business where his brother helped out for a while, and the two brothers opened a repair shop which eventually became the Wright Cycle company where they made their own brand of bicycles.
Around about the 1890s three important world events got the brothers more interested in planes. They studied the works of famous aeronautical engineers and started their own experiments.
Their idea of a pilot controlled flight came because of many accidents (and deaths) from practice gliding expeditions by some inventors.
Even though the brothers experienced some problems from other inventors and engineers who said they were the first to make the airplane, Orville and Wilbur were legally given the licence to the first “flying machine”.
The real use of the airplane was seen during World War I. After the military saw what a useful weapon the plane was, America, Germany and France started building more of them.
In 1919, the first transatlantic flight was made. This was a huge step in the history of the airplane, and would not have been possible if not for all the work of so many scientists and engineers, including the Wright brothers.
As technology improved airplanes became more common. Various models were tried out, and this led to the invention of the jet.
A jet is a special type of airplane that is powered by jet engines and can travel higher and faster than normal aircrafts.
A British engineer Frank Whittle and a German engineer Hans von Ohain developed the jet in the 1930’s.
When it came around to World War II in the 1940s, airplanes played a huge role in war.
In 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier with the X-1. This was a great leap forward because it laid the foundation for a future of technologically advanced air travel.
By the early 1950s jets for commercial flights were being produced very fast. Using the mechanisms and the laws that governed air travel, by the 19th century scientists were working on space travel. Today they are successful.
Within a period of 40 odd years, the entire world had seen a huge leap forward in what was earlier thought to be impossible – air travel.
Now in the 21st century, the technology has improved greatly, allowing the simple airplane to be modified and re-designed for military, commercial, and cargo purposes.