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Invention of the Airplane

Posted on January 12, 2011 by , with 32767 views


The discovery of the airplane accelerated development in the transport industry. The time taken to travel greater distances has been dramatically reduced, and places have become increasingly more accessible.

Despite the Wright Brothers universally credited with the invention of the airplane, the emergence of the plane can be traced back an entire century before the brothers took to the sky. Sir George Cayley, born in Scarborough, in 1773, built his first model helicopter in 1796. In 1804, he successfully designed and manufactured a glider, before publishing three papers detailing the fundamental principles of aeronautics. It was within these papers that the ideas of thrust and lift were first explained.

The two people most commonly linked with the invention of the airplane are the Wright Brothers. Wilbur Wright was born on 16th April, 1867 while his brother, Orville, was born on 19th August, 1871. Both left education at an early stage to set up their own bicycle repair store. Otto Lilienthal, a German aviator, was a man who the Wright Brothers closely followed, keeping up to date with his research and experiments. Lilienthal died in a glider accident, which inspired the brothers to take matters into their own hands and continue their own research into aeronautics. This love of mechanics drove them to experiment with the principles of airplanes and flight, carrying out extensive tests for many years. One of these many tests focused on the wings. The brothers set about building a set of wings similar to that of a bird, albeit with a moveable rudder. This was known as "wing warping" and was the benchmark for their design. It was in 17th December, 1903, that the brothers unveiled their first ariplane, the first plane that had been capable of a controlled flight with no landing damage and a constant speed.

The brothers made it part of their research to photograph each prototype they tested, also persuading an attendant from a lifesaving station to capture Orville in flight. The "flying machine", as it was referred to at that point, rose to an altitude of 10 feet, travelled 120 feet and took just 12 seconds. Two further successful flights took place later that day prompting the brothers to contact their father to tell him to get in touch with the press about their recent flights. Unfortunately, many dismissed their claims, so Wilbur ventured into Europe to spread the word. Their news was finally accepted, and the brothers received worldwide fame for their work.

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