The First Airplane

On the fateful day of December 17, 1903, the first airplane flew for a distance of 120 feet over the sands Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina. The airplane was built by Orville and Wilbur Wright in a shop not far from the place of the momentous flight.

Many have tried to accomplish flight before the Wright brothers and made significant triumphs, such as:

1485, Leonardo da Vinci’s ornithopter


During his study of birds in flight, Leonardo Da Vinci realized humans cannot fly by attaching wings to our arms and flapping, as we are simply too weak, and too heavy. Therefore, Da Vinci sketched a flying machine to prevail over those set backs, but they remained conceptual. He didn’t try to build one.

1799 – 1850s, George Cayley’s gliders


A scientific aerial investigator, George Cayley spent his life trying to figiure out how to achieve flight. He is considered the “father of aviation,” because he gave the essence of what we know today about flying, like identifying weight, lift, drag and thrust as the four forces that act upon flying machines, the elements of vertical flight, and the importance of cambered wings and a lightweight engine for sustained flights.

1891, Otto Lilienthal’s glider


Otto Lilienthal’s unpowered glider was the first that could continually and reliably fly over long distances. Because of Otto Lilienthal’s work, people began to believe that flight was both possible and practical.

Although several attempts at powered flights were made during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Wright brothers were the first to succeed. Various ideas and construction design done by the Wright brothers is still used in today’s airplanes. Such as, the airplane they built used wings that could be slightly warped to operate in conjunction with the rudder to make coordinated flights.