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Wilbur and Orville Wright

by Austin from Toronto

“Isn't it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!” -Orville Wright

To me, a hero is someone who stops at nothing to chase their dreams and twist them into reality, while inspiring others to do so as well. The Wright brothers did just that. Orville and Wilbur Wright were curious as to why it was that birds could fly, and not humans. From this observation, they set out to change this by inventing the very first flying machine.

Born in 1867 and 1871, in Ohio and Indiana, Orville and Wilbur Wright were fascinated by the mechanics of flying. They dove their heads into every book about flying they could get their hands on, including works by George Cayley, who invented the glider, Samuel Langley, who created model airplanes that flew, and Otto Lilienthal, who built gliders that flew people. All of these people had contributed to the matter, however, their designs were far from perfect, and they still did not actually fly; they only glided. Orville and Wilfred were in pursuit of a reliable machine that could transport people efficiently.

After collecting all sorts of theories, designs and ideas, the two brothers devised and constructed the very first wind tunnel to study the effects of wind on various shapes, and then on different designs of gliders. Over the next few years the two built many gliders, both piloted and unmanned. However, they soon realized that control over the glider was a major issue. Then, while experiencing somewhat of an epiphany, Orville and Wilbur concocted their theory of “wing-warping”, a technique used by birds to control their direction of flight. This was quickly adopted into their designs. By the turn of the century, the brothers had tested many variations of gliders, including ones with variable tails, and so they decided it was time to create a motorized aircraft. They investigated for many months how propellers work, and then they built an airplane and propeller that would well suit the propellers heavy weight and strong vibrations. “Flyer” would then be guided through a downhill tack and take off with speed. With Orville as its pilot, Flyer flew for a twelve second, sustained flight on December 17, 1903. This became the very first successful, piloted, perpetual flight in history. The Wright brothers went on to perfect their design, revealing “Flyer II”, which flew for over five minutes with Wilbur as its Pilot. The U.S. government then purchased the planes manufactured by the Wright brothers, selling for $25,000 each, plus an additional benefit of $5,000 because the speed exceeded 40 mph.

The Wright brothers are my heroes because they had a dream, a peculiar idea, and faith in that it would work. Many people attempted to defy them. “Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible” (Simon Newcomb, 1902). Many other quotes like these perhaps would have torn the spirits of others, but not the Wright brothers. They disregarded what they heard by critics and focused on using the most powerful and undervalued tool of the human mind– the imagination. Most people tend to get caught up in trivial matters such as monetary gain and so they miss out on what is truly important in life. The Wright brothers are my role models because they made a difference in this world, and will be remembered for their determination, imagination and assertive disposition.

Page created on 12/4/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 12/4/2010 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

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