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SCIENCE HERO:
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS
by Charlie from Centereach

A hero is someone seen as admirable by their actions. Each person has their own unique person(s) they regard as a hero. Each person has their own reasoning behind why they see someone as a hero. The Wright Brothers are the two people I respect and consider my hero. They have a keen spirit of adventure for trying the impossible; they exhibit qualities that led me to believe they were ambitious in creating a plane. They were courageous and determined because they stayed focused on creating. They were brilliant for successfully creating a practical plane for the first time ever. As an aspiring pilot, the Wright Brothers, Orville, and Wilbur, opened the window of modern flight. This is why I perceive them to be my heroes.

Wilber(left) and Orville (right) (google)

The Wright Brothers lived in Ohio at a modest frame house with their widow father and unmarried sister. Neither Orville nor Wilber have ever smoked or drank, and to me that is very impressive. The two never married and lived life as bachelors. When they where children, they were inseparable. Wilber once said that "my brother Orville and myself lived together, played together, worked together, and in fact thought together". They continued to be inseparable for the rest of their lives and couldn’t have it any other way.

The Wrights had a few other jobs before their passion of flight. Orville’s first passion was printing, after his father who had his own church newspaper. Orville and Wilber had built their own print press as to buying one and it was better than a bought printing press. Their homemade press could print 1,000 pages an hour, and Orville had soon left school and opened his own print shop. Later Wilbur joined his brother as the newspaper editor for their weekly paper. The two kept their jobs for a good number of years until the big bicycle craze swept the country with the modern design for a bicycle. The brothers soon bought their own bikes and tried to race them. This had no success, so they did the next best thing. Selling them! At first they only sold, rented, and repaired bicycles in their bike shop, but later they invented their own designs: the "Van Cleave" and the less expensive "St. Claire". Although they did not know it then, this bike shop would be the place for them to design their famous bi-plane.

The two brothers had once said later in life that their inspiration for the flight experiments had started with a small toy their father made for them. It was a toy helicopter made from cork, bamboo, and paper. Then it was powered by a rubberband with twin propellers. Orville and Wilber called the helicopter "The Bat" and played with it until it fell apart. Several copies of the bat were constructed by them. Eventually they tried to make "The Bat" on a much larger scale to fly in, but it failed to work for reasons unknown at the time. After the experiments failed, so many time they gave up on them while the thought of flight lingered in their minds.

When the brothers started their experiments they wanted to find out all that was already known about flight. When studying flight they realized that a heavier than air flying machine would have three basic requirements. A wing that could provide air lift, a power plant to propel the machine, and a way to control it in the air. The wings that can give air lift, and the power plant to propel the plane were already designed by other flight engineers. All the Wright brothers had to do was find a way to control the plane while in the air. For this they used a rudder for the plane to go right or left. Then, to dip and dive, they used horizontal rudders or elevators that were already being used on submarines. For Wilber and Orville this provided a new problem - the rocking motion of the plane as it turns. Without a way to control that the plane could roll over and spiral out of control. One day however they noticed some buzzards in the air and saw that they rotated in the air by having one wing higher than the other. They saw that by adjusting the angles of the wings, you can turn with ease and not roll over. To make this possible on an air craft, they designed a spiral twist going down the wing so that it was possible to tilt one wing up and the other wing down.

Now that they had built a practical flyer, the two wanted to put it on the market as soon as the patent rights were secure. They did not want to do demonstrations either until they had a contract or some sort of buyer. Sure enough after many hearings and negotiations they had a contract with the U.S. war department. Soon after the French government was also buying the Type A Wright Flyer. both of the contracts demanded demonstrations of their flyers, so Orville and Wilber split up. Wilber went to France while Orville stayed in America to work on the design more. France already had many people attempting to build planes and was surprised that the Wrights beat them to the punch. Wilber's demonstration made the other French inventors' planes look like rocks with wings, because the flyer flew so smoothly and turned so easily that it astonished everyone. Orville's flight did not go as well. The plane broke while in the air and crashed, killing his passenger Lieutenant Selfridge and leaving Orville severely injured. Much later, another demonstration was performed and that is the one that really sealed the government deal.

Many other demonstrations were done for the public after this, and many more dare devil pilots followed their footsteps. I honor their contribution to modern society and their ingenuity. Although their flight may have been primitive and not the way it is today, the Wright brothers are the most historic people of the age of flight. They accomplished the impossible with a few road bumps (crashes, and total failures) and with an ambition that could not be stopped. They are my heroes and that is why.


Written by Charlie from Centereach
This story has been submitted by a guest user and does not necessarily represent the views of The My Hero Project or its staff.

Last changed on: 10/28/2008

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