The Wright brothers are legendary innovators here in Dayton-- and all around the world; and for good reason-- they invented the airplane! Today, December 17, 2020 is the 117th anniversary of the first flight,  and we thought you might enjoy these fun facts about Wilbur and Orville Wright that you may or may not know! 

 

1. The Wright brothers were raised and lived their lives in Dayton!

 

2. On Dec 17, 1903 the Wright brothers achieved the first powered, sustained and controlled airplane flight. Orville & Wilbur decided who would fly first with a coin toss. Wilbur won the toss, but his first attempt failed. Orville went second and managed to fly for 12 seconds. Later that day Wilbur flew their plane for 59 seconds, over a distance of 852 feet.

 

3. In 1878, when Wilbur was 11 and Orville 7, their father gave them a helicopter-like toy to share. It was based on an invention by Alphonse Pénaud and was made of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to twirl the motor. The brothers later said this toy was the beginning of an obsession with flying machines.

 

4. In 1889, Orville and Wilbur started a newspaper printing business. In 1892 they opened up a bicycle repair shop. They designed their own bicycle with custom features like an oil-retaining wheel hub and coaster brakes, things still used today in modern bikes. Their bicycle business financed their work on inventing the world's first controlled flight of a power-driven, manned, heavier than air plane.

 

young wright brothers

5. Neither brother ever married. 

 

6. The Wright Flyer I cost about $1,000 to make and the Wright brothers financed it entirely by themselves.  It was made of spruce and had propellers and a specially designed engine, cast mainly from lightweight aluminum. It was the first controlled and powered flying machine that could fly with the weight of humans. From this design, the modern airplane was born!

 

7. The Wright Brothers established the world's first test flight facilities here in Dayton. Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park are just a few of the Wright brothers continuing legacies in Dayton today.

 

8. Neither brother attended college or even obtained a high school diploma.

 

9. The Wright brothers only flew together once (though both piloted the planes individually): on May 25, 1910, they took a six-minute flight piloted by Orville with Wilbur as his passenger.

 

10. In July of 1969, Ohio astronaut Neil Armstrong carried to the moon, remnants of fabric and the propeller of the Wright Flyer, the craft flown by Armstrong’s fellow Ohioans Wilbur and Orville Wright when they succeeded in taking the first powered flight on Dec. 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

 

Enjoy this video of Pulitzer Prize winning The Wright Brothers author, David McCullough.  To learn more about the Wright brothers and to see the world's most amazing authentic aviation sites and artifacts, plan a visit to Dayton, The Birthplace of Aviation & So Much More!