German engineer, Otto Lilienthal,
studied aerodynamics and worked to design a glider that would fly. Otto
Lilienthal was the first person to design a glider that could fly a person
and was able to fly long distances.
Otto Lilienthal was fascinated by
the idea of flight. Based on his studies of birds and how they fly, he
wrote a book on aerodynamics that was published in 1889 and this text was
used by the Wright Brothers as the basis for their designs.
After more than 2500 flights, Otto
Lilienthal was killed when he lost control because of a sudden strong wind
and crashed into the ground.
Langley was physicist and astronomer who realized that power was needed
to help man fly. Langley conducted experiments using whirling arms and
steam motors. He built a model of a plane, which he called an aerodrome,
that included a steam-powered engine. In 1891, his model flew for 3/4s
of a mile before running out of fuel.
Samuel Langley received a $50,000
grant to build a full sized aerodrome. It was too heavy to fly and it crashed.
He was very disappointed. He gave up trying to fly. His major contributions
to flight involved attempts at adding a power plant to a glider. He was
also well known as the director of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington,
Octave Chanute was a successful
engineer who undertook the invention of airplanes as a hobby, after being
inspired by Otto Lilienthal. Chanute designed several
aircraft, the Herring - Chanute biplane was his most successful design
and formed the basis of the Wright biplane design.
Octave Chanute published "Progress
in Flying Machines" in 1894. It gathered and analyzed all the technical
knowledge that he could find about aviation accomplishments. It included
all of the world's aviation pioneers. The Wright Brothers used this book
as a basis for much of their experiments. Chanute was also in contact with
the Wright Brothers and often commented on their technical progress.
Wright Brothers - First Flight
Wright and Wilbur Wright were very deliberate in their quest for flight.
First, they spent many years learning about all the early developments
of flight. They completed detailed research of what other early inventors
had done. They read all the literature that was published up to that time.
Then, they began to test the early theories with balloons and kites. They
learned about how the wind would help with the flight and how it could
affect the surfaces once up in the air.
next step was to test the shapes of gliders much like George
Cayley did when he was testing the many different shapes that would
fly. They spent much time testing and learning about how gliders could
Wright Brothers designed and used a wind tunnel to test the shapes of the
wings and the tails of the gliders. After they found a glider shape that
consistently would fly in the tests in the North Carolina Outer Banks dunes,
then they turned their attention to how to create a propulsion system that
would create the lift needed to fly.
The early engine that they used generated
almost 12 horsepower.
"Flyer" lifted from level ground to the north of Big Kill Devil Hill, at
10:35 a.m., on December 17, 1903. Orville piloted the plane which weighed
six hundred and five pounds.
first heavier-than-air flight traveled one hundred twenty feet in twelve
seconds. The two brothers took turns during the test flights. It was Orville's
turn to test the plane, so he is the brother that is credited with the
Humankind was now able to fly! During
the next century, many new airplanes and engines
were developed to help transport people, luggage, cargo, military personnel
and weapons. The 20th century's advances were all based on this first flight
at Kitty Hawk by the American Brothers from Ohio.
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