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Changes of the First Flight


The supposed theory by British engineer John Smeaton, on coefficient of air pressure hadn’t been challenged in nearly 150 years, until the Wright Brothers discovered that his value for lift of 0.005 was inaccurate and a value of 0.0033 was much more approximate. This was the first of many changes in the creation of the first motor-operated plane, also known as the Wright Flyer, invented by the Wright brothers. Many more aviators had relied on this value of 0.005 and, as such, created many further problems for the Wright brothers as they could no longer rely on the multitudinous amounts of data that others had recorded before them. They then came to the conclusion that they have to create their own statistics and data,  and it was then tested by two different methods.






Their first method was mounting a wheel to the handlebars of a bike and riding along the streets of Dayton, their hometown  to collect wind data. The data recorded showed a much lower amount of lift 

“It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.” - Wright Brothers

than what was predicted by other aviators, which was a large discovery for their Flyer. However, their bicycle method still wasn’t the most informative method of obtaining data. The brothers then decided to create the second wind-tunnel in America, consisting of a small wooden box with a fan blade attached on one end and a tin scoop on the other to compress the air stream. The Wrights then tested over 200 different wing shapes to see which shape design was most compatible for flight. This proved highly effective and gave the Wrights the most detailed data ever acquired for flight. Once the data was acquired, the Wrights also had to face the challenge of actually creating the plane, firstly, moving forwards, in the form of propellors. Until the Wrights, it was supposed 'common knowledge' that propellors should be wide and slightly curved, with three blades, much like a ships propellor; However, after the recent testing, another change in their 

design was two, curved narrow blades, as they produced maximum efficiency. They then faced their biggest challenge and, soon to be, triumph in the form of their wings as recent tests with gliders proved that their most compatible wing shape was still in need of more development. Even though they had tested fruitlessly on many wing forms, the supposed 'best' wing shapes sent the glider tests crashing down in misery. While looking for inspiration for their next wing design, the Wright looked to birds, fascinated and intrigued on how the birds could stay up and fly. So, sure enough, they noticed a small detail in how birds would tilt their wings for stability and control. This was the exact breakthrough the Wrights desperately needed as, after further discussion and innovation, they developed their concept of 'wing warping' and in 1903, on the 17th of December, the Wright Flyer took off and flew for 12 seconds, flying 37 meters above ground, a feat of aviation. Once the plane flew successfully, flight became much less than a foreign topic to the world and many aviators world wide began

using the data the Wrights had recorded to create planes that could withstand much longer durations and heights, including the Wright brothers. After two years of experimentation, the Wrights created the Wright Flyer iii which then flew 24.2 miles (38.95 km) for 39 minutes and 23 seconds. This was then created as a somewhat form of a basis for more larger boundaries of aviation, such as hot air balloons and helicopters as well as higher boundaries of height such as space travel, more specifically rockets. This was all completed because of the pioneering in flight by the Wright brothers.

“If birds can glide for long periods of time, then… why can’t I?” 

 - Wright Brothers
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Continuity of the First Flight

The first headway made in aviation that continued over to the Wrights was in the 16th century when inventor George Cayley discovered the forces of flight which are weight, lift, drag and thrust. This had a momentous impact on the Wright Brothers, amongst other aviators, as this gave a much clearer principle of the perfect flying machine. Cayley also developed the concept of a fixed wing aircraft and as well as many successful gliders which's tail stabilisers carried over to the Wrights and even to modern aircrafts today. Other experimentation that was recorded was in the 16th century by Leonardo Da Vinci when he closely watched birds and how they stayed in the air, much like the Wrights, and made several gliders and documentations on these observations


Other examples of continuity in flight are many of the Wrights breakthroughs in their planes. The Wrights major concept of wing warping has continued over to modern and military planes as a stabilising and controlling feature of plane in general and has become a main feature of planes. Their modernised propellors also continued into the modernisation of airplanes as the began to accomodate more, fly higher, and travel faster.

“The airplane stays up because it doesn’t have the time to fall.” - Wright Brothers

Orvilles logbook of flight showing diagrams of first circle flight in 1904

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