History Wing

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  History Wing 
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The Wright Story 

A History    
of the Airplane

  Aviation's attic 


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  Available in Française, Español, Português, Deutsch, Россию, 中文, 日本, and others.

his is the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright, the invention of the airplane, and man's first flights. It's a complex story that includes not only the Wright Brothers, but also the myriads of people who touched their lives -- and those whose lives were touched by them.  It spans hundreds of years and reaches to every part of the globe, from the gloomy moors of Britain's Yorkshire, where a baronet with an insane wife built the first successful gliders, to the New Zealand outback, where a self-taught rancher labored in obscurity on an aircraft that may have made a few tentative hops just before the Wright Flyer leaped into the air.

The story is here in its entirety, but it's told in such a way that you can glean as little or as much information as you need. If you just want to know a little more about the Wright Brothers, the first levels will give you an overview of the story and a timeline. If you want to delve deeper into the story, we flesh it out in detail at the lower levels. And if you're a serious researcher who wants to wade through the minutia of the Wright's diaries, papers, and correspondence – or a student who needs to consult primary sources for a History Day project – we have included many of these at the lowest level and we're adding more all the time.

The History Wing is divided into these sections:

The Wright Story

A biography of Wilbur and Orville Wright, from Wilbur's birth in 1867 to Orville's death in 1948. Includes many of their own writings, eyewitness accounts, and the remembrances of the people who knew them.

bullet The Wright Timeline
bullet An Unusual Childhood
bullet Career Choices
bullet Inventing the Airplane
bullet Showing the World
bullet The Airplane Business
bullet A Long Twilight

Wilbur and Orville Wright getting the Flyer 2 ready to fly at Huffman Prairie, near Dayton, Ohio in 1904.

A History of the Airplane

The history of the fixed-wing aircraft, from its conception in 1799 by an English baron with a mad wife to the first truly stable aircraft that emerged just before the beginning of World War I, designed by a young genius. Includes short biographies of pioneer aviators and early aeronautical engineers, illustrated timelines of pioneer aviation history, and reviews of various claims for who was first to fly and when.

bullet The Century Before
bullet The Decade After
bullet Pilots, Planes and Pioneers
bullet Who Was First?

A scene from the Rheims "Aviation Week" of 1909, the first major air show, with an impressive 38 planes on display. (Only 23 of them got off the ground, but it was still impressive.)

Aviation's Attic

A collection of the more offbeat and fascinating stories in pioneer aviation, often told by people who were eyewitnesses to aviation history.

bullet With the Wright Brothers in Dayton
bullet The Wright/Smithsonian Controversy
bullet The Lost Flights of the Wright Brothers
bullet They Wouldn't Believe the Wrights Had Flown
bullet The 1909 Wright Glider
bullet Kate Carew's Interview
bullet Charles Flint Remembers
bullet Unbelievable Flying Objects
bullet Everything a Pilot Could Want
bullet The Aero Club of America 1906 Exhibition of Aeronautical Apparatus


In 1908, the Marquis d'Equevilly designed an aircraft that looked a great deal like a vegetable shredder and flew almost as well.

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 Eddie Rickenbacker



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