Wright Timeline 1920 to 1929

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The Wright Story 


  Wright Timeline     1920 to 1929 
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o invention, no scientific discovery, no work of art, no human endeavor happens in an historical vacuum. There are always other factors -- cultural, political, personal -- that influence the outcome of a single event. So it was with the invention of the airplane. The Wright brothers were born just as the Scientific Method became a tremendous force for cultural change, and the world became an increasingly wonderful and terrible place because of it. When Wilbur and Orville were children, the abacus was the most advanced mathematical aid, influenza was an often-fatal disease, and the cannon was the most feared weapon of war. By the time Orville died, the first computers were just being built, antibiotics had begun to wipe out disease,  and the atomic bomb made war unthinkable. Many of these advances influenced the development of the airplane -- and the airplane, in turn, influenced further advances.

Here is chronology that shows not just the story of the Wright brothers, but also the world they lived in and the important political, cultural, and scientific events that loomed large in their lives. Click on the decade you want to see:

1860 to 1869
1870 to 1879
1880 to 1889
1890 to 1899
1900 to 1909
1910 to 1919
1920 to 1929
1930 to 1939
1940 to 1949


The Wright Story

The Bigger Picture

1920 President Woodrow Wilson appoints Orville to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the forerunner of NASA). He remains an active participant for the rest of his life. The first monument to the Wrights' accomplishments is unveiled in Le Mans, France.
The first radio broadcasting stations open in England and America.
1921 Griffith Brewer delivers a speech to the Royal Aeronautical Society in London supporting Orville's claims the the 1903 Langley Aerodrome was not capable of flight, as the Smithsonian claims it was. The speech is published and widely distributed in America.
Canadian scientists at the University of Toronto led by Dr. Frederick Banting discover the hormone Insulin, leading to an effective treatment for diabetes. Babe Ruth captures the home run record and 16-year-old Margaret Gorman becomes the first "Miss America."
1922 Orville and Katharine christen a flying boat Wilbur Wright. The aeroboat belongs to the Wright Aeronautical Corporation, the fourth reincarnation of the original Wright Company. A New York Times poll lists Orville as one of the 12 greatest living Americans.
The first fatal mid-air collision occurs over France. The Ottoman empire, which had begun in 1299 and once ruled parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, ends and modern Turkey is established.
1923 Orville designs an action toy that launches a clown at a whirling trapeze. Called "Flips & Flops," it's manufactured by the Miami Specialty Company for several years.
U.S. Army Lieutenants John MacReady and Oakley Kelly make the first non-stop transcontinental flight, flying across America in 26 hours.
1924 Working with James Jacobs, Orville develops and patents the split flap, used to slow airplanes in a steep dive. The Navy pronounces it useless, but later it becomes an important component of "dive bombers" in World War II. It is his last aeronautical patent.
The U.S. Navy sends four Douglas "World Cruisers" on a flight around the world. Two aircraft complete the flight, returning in 175 days.
1925 Orville issues a statement disputing the Smithsonian's insistence that the 1903 Langley Aerodrome was the first airplane capable of flight and threatens to give the 1903 Flyer to a London museum if the Smith does not recant. Smithsonian Secretary Charles Abbott refuses to budge.
John L. Baird transmits the first television images and Edwin Hubble proves that the Milky Way is only one galaxy among many that make up the universe.
1926 Orville's sister Katharine marries Henry J. Haskell and moves to Kansas City against Orville's wishes. Orville serves on the board of the Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics, an organization that promotes advances in aviation safety, navigation, and instrumentation.
Walt Disney Studios organizes to create animated cartoons, NACA begins to license airplanes and pilots. Richard Byrd flies over the North Pole.
1927 President Calvin Coolidge signs an act to construct a monument to the Wright brothers on the Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Charles Lindbergh flies non-stop from New York to Paris in The Spirit of St. Louis and The Jazz Singer is the first full-length motion picture to incorporate sound.
1928 Orville Wright sends the 1903 Flyer I  to the Science Museum of London in England, calling public attention to his ongoing disagreement with the Smithsonian.
Alexander Flemming discovers penicillin, an antibiotic shown to be effective against several serious diseases.. Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.
1929 Katharine Wright Haskell, Orville's sister, dies of pneumonia in Kansas City. Orville takes her body back to Dayton to bury next to Wilbur.
The stock market plunges, starting the "Great Depression," a worldwide economic crisis.

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"Aviation is proof that – given the will – we can do the impossible."
 Eddie Rickenbacker



History Wing/The Wright Story/The Wright Timeline 1920-1929

Part of a biography of the Wright Brothers


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