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Heroes of the Sky


First Flight Gallery

A Wright Brother Flies in France

The Wright brothers may have been the first to fly in 1903, but over the next few years a number of inventors—most of them French—also produced flyable aircraft. Many of these French efforts were conducted in public, while very few people had ever seen the Wrights fly. Many Frenchmen doubted that the brothers had ever flown at all.

Meanwhile, back in Dayton, Ohio, Orville and Wilbur were quietly making many improvements upon their initial flyer. By 1905, they had developed the world’s first truly practical airplane. They could control it better than the 1903 plane. It could stay safely in the air as long as the fuel supply lasted. It could easily and gracefully bank, turn, circle around and perform figure eights. And, while it still did not take off without the help of a launch rail (and a catapult mechanism if the wind wasn’t strong enough), it was sturdy enough to withstand repeated takeoffs and landings.

By 1908, they had developed a flyer in which the pilot could sit upright for the first time. A second seat next to him could even carry a passenger. The pilot could now operate the control system by simply maneuvering two hand levers, rather than moving his hips from side to side like before.

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wright flyer replica a wright brother flies in france


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