Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Wright Brothers #3

For a few weeks each year in 1900-02 the Wright brothers experimented with gliders at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Wikipedia has greater detail about the gliders. Kitty Hawk had a small population, the men were mostly fishermen, and the living conditions were uncomfortable and often harsh. It  was quite a journey to get there. However, the Wright brothers chose this place due to the fairly steady wind conditions and the sand bars which afforded the best landing surface.

After their 1901 visit to Kitty Hawk they built a small wind tunnel. It was only six feet long and four feet square, but their experiments with it and numerous wing shapes greatly increased their understanding of flight.

They went again to Kitty Hawk in 1903. This time they had a biplane with motor and propellers. Their long-time bicycle shop employee Charlie Taylor became an important part of the team, building their first airplane engine in close collaboration with the brothers. On December 17, 1903 they made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air, fixed wing aircraft. Their fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium.

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