Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 24, 2015
1911 Wright Glider

1911 Wright Glider

October 24, 1911: Orville Wright is able to fly for 9 minutes and 45 seconds. The Wright brothers, Wilber and Orville, began their foray into flight by making a kite in 1899. They flew the kite near their home in Dayton, Ohio. It had a wingspan of only 5 feet and was too small to carry anyone. They wanted to test their theory of wing-warping for roll control – an essential discovery making controlled flight possible. Their first Wright Glider able to carry a person was built in 1900. It was designed after Octave Chanute’s 1896 two surface glider. The wing airfoil was based on Otto Lilienthan’s tables of aerodynamic lift. This was a full size craft but it was first tested for flight on October 5, 1900 by flying it again as a kite, this time near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Wilbur went up in the first plane while men on the ground held tethered ropes. Eventually it was possible to make several test flights but the plane was abandoned when the brothers went back to Ohio and it was torn apart by storms and pieces salvaged for other uses. They built a second glider in 1901 and tested it at Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk. This glider had larger wings and the brothers were able to fly 50 to 100 times in free flights as well as many tethered flights as a kite between July 27 and August 17, 1901. During these flights, measurements of lift and drag led the brothers to believe that Lilienthal’s calculations were wrong.

The 1902 Wright Glider was their third glider and the first to have yaw control by having a rear rudder under the pilot’s control. Their wing design was perfected during the winter using their homemade wind tunnel. They were able to fly with true control between September 19 and October 24, 1902 and their longest glide lasted for 26 seconds and went 622.5 feet. They put their craft into storage. The wingspan was 32 feet, 1 inch and had an area of 305 square feet. The craft, empty, weighed 117 pounds. They returned to North Carolina in 1908 to test their new Flyer III and found that the storage shed and the glider inside had been destroyed by storms.

In 1911, Orville Wright returned to Kill Devil Hill along with Alec Ogilvie. They hoped to test an automatic control system for the glider but did not invite reporters to witness their attempts. The glider was taken up on this day using a design which is considered now to be a conventional tailplane. The pilot was seated with hand controls rather than lying prone in a cradle. Winds that day were about 40 mph and the plane was able to fly much longer. The previous record had been 1 minute and 12 second so the nearly ten minute flight was quite remarkable. In fact, the record stood for ten years.

If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance. – Orville Wright

I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. – Wilbur Wright

The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who … looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space… on the infinite highway of the air.  – Wilbur Wright

It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill. – Wilbur Wright

Also on this day: Nedelin Catastrophe – In 1960, a Soviet Union ICBM exploded on the launchpad.
Notre Dame – In 1260, the cathedral was dedicated.
Terror Along the Beltway – In 2002, the Beltway Sniper was arrested.
Earth – In 1946, the first picture of Earth from outer space was taken.
Thar She Goes – In 1901, Annie Taylor celebrated her birthday.



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