While it’s tempting to say that the Wright brothers were the first to fly a powered airplane, there are some technicalities that must be addressed.
The Wrights did not actually build their own engines. Instead, they bought or built machines that used engines designed by others. The Wright Flyer was powered by a modified twin-cylinder gasoline engine made by their Dayton mechanic Charlie Taylor.
However, aviation historians generally agree that Wilbur and Orville Wright are credited with building the first successful aircraft capable of carrying a person aloft and sustaining controlled flight in December 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Wilbur and Orville Wright were born in Dayton, Ohio on April 16, 1867 and 1871 respectively; they were two years apart in age and shared much of their childhood together with younger sister Katherine (Kitty). They also attended school together where Wilbur excelled academically while Orville struggled to keep up with his brother’s intellectual level. At age 12 he was enrolled at The McPherson Academy for Boys in Clifton, OH where he met James Amos Root who encouraged him to pursue mechanical engineering as a career path.
Last modified: August 9, 2022