Orville and Wilbur Wright, who are better known as the Wright Brothers, were born in the middle 1800’s and known primarily as the inventors of the airplane. These aviation pioneers may have only had a first flight that was sustained over a short distance, but this initial flight catapulted them into superstar status that allowed the airplane to become a military tool, a means of commercial transportation, and was a precursor of the modern jet technology that allows people to fly at speeds that are faster than sound.
Although they are mostly known for the invention of the airplane, the Wright Brothers also invented a number of other things, all related to the airline industry, that deserves recognition as well. Here is a brief look at their work.
1. Control By 3 Axis
There were a number of other aviation pioneers that were all racing to create the first craft that was heavier than air that could be specifically controlled. All of these other inventors were using controls that were pretty generic: up and down, left and right. What the Wright Brothers invented with the use of a third level of control that allowed for side to side steering as well. This 3 axis control allowed for better stability of the aircraft by the pilot and is still used today.
2. A Wing That Is Fixed
The idea of flight around 1900 was based on what people could see flying already: namely birds. Most aircraft designs incorporated flexible wings that would mimic bird flight. The ones that weren’t using this approach were focused on lighter than air gas, like helium, that could be seen in balloons. What the Wright Brothers invented was a means of created flight with a fixed wing that would create more stability with the aircraft once it achieved flight. Fixed wings are still the industry standard today.
Fixed wings provide a lot of stability to an aircraft, but they don’t provide anything in the way of steering control. The Wright Brothers worked on this issue for a few years after their first successful flight and came up with the idea of an aileron. Some might call these “flaps.” At its very basic core, an aileron is like a miniature wing that is placed within the structure of the fixed wing. This allows for better movement of the aircraft, especially in maneuvers that require the wings to dip in some way.
4. In-Flight Indicators
As the Wright Brothers continually developed their plane, they were able to make a lot of money from their invention thanks to military contracts. As the military worked on using this tool, however, the planes were starting to crash. The military blamed the Wright Brothers for the pilot deaths that were occurring while the Brothers blamed the pilots for flight errors. To settle the argument, flight indicators were developed that would tell a pilot their in-flight status so they wouldn’t stall the engine or dive to quickly.
The Wright Brothers not only defined the aviation industry, but they created it. Every time you get into an airplane, you’re using an invention that was inspired by these aviation pioneers.
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