flight was the fruit of their unending devotion to the pursuit
of their goals. Although
this was his most notable accomplishment, Wilbur led a life
full of many achievements and triumphs over adversity.
was born on April
16, 1867 in Millville,
Indiana. He was the third child of Bishop Milton Wright
and Susan Catharine Wright. The family moved to Hawthorn
Street in Dayton,
Wilbur and Orville looked to their mother for mechanical expertise
and their father for intellectual challenge. Milton brought the
boys various souvenirs and trinkets he found during his travels
for the church. One such trinket, a toy helicopter-like top, sparked
the boys' interest in flying. In school, Wilbur excelled, and
would have graduated from high school if his family had not moved
during his senior year. A skating accident and his mother's illness
and subsequent death kept him from attending college(ref)."
Wilbur, a strong-willed
individual, was able to repeatedly bounce back from physical and
academic setbacks. As he entered adulthood, he teamed with his
brother Orville to develop new and unusual schemes.
Among the Wright Brothers'
various enterprises were a Printing
firm and a Bicycle shop. Both of these ventures showcased their
mechanical aptitude, business sense, and originality.
This was a continuation of their lifelong partnerships: even as
youngsters, Wilbur submitted a journalistic report on a circus
production managed by Orville. These complementary traits would
serve them as they journeyed down the path of greatness.
They were inspired
by German glider Otto
and paid close attention to his success and eventual fatal error.
His innovation inspired them, as their innovation now inspires
us. The spark of interest spread into a genuine desire to fly.
"For many years, he once said, he had been 'afflicted with
the belief that flight is possible (ref)."
Wilbur began to voraciously
read everything he could about aviation, from the Smithsonian's
to newspapers articles. As all independent thinkers and inventors
do, he imagined something completely novel to solve the problem
that had plagued other would-be flyers: "a simple system
that twisted, or warped the wings of a biplane, causing it to
roll right and left(ref)."
As they say,
the "rest is history."
This is how the Wright Brothers lived when they camped out at
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina as they tried to make that first
historical flight. It was a simple, functional existence. They
were settlers of a different kind: pioneering into the frontiers
Their perseverance would
again be put to the test, even after making history
with the first ever heavier than air, manned, powered flight in
1903. Their achievement was doubted and undermined.
thought they were crackpots; others thought that if two bicycle
mechanics could build a successful airplane, they could do it
themselves (ref). "
Eventually, with persistence,
Wilbur and Orville were able to win over both the public and the
Wilbur shocks the French
with the flying machine.