The Early Lives of the Wright BrothersWilbur and Orville Wright, who were the first to open the long deserted lanes of the air to mankind, were born in Dayton, Ohio. Their father, a clergyman and later a bishop, spent his spare time reading scientific books and inventing. He attempted to invent an improved typewriter, however, he never finished doing so. He inspired an interest in scientific principles in the Wright brothers by giving them toys which would stimulate their curiosity. One of these toys was a helicopter model, or Cayley's Top, which would rise and flutter in the air.
Wright Brothers - Flying Kites & Riding BikesAfter making several helicopters models of their own, the Wright brothers started making original models of kites, and Orville Wright, the younger brother, attained an exceptional skill in flying them. Orville and Wilbur Wright also designed and built their own bicycles and astonishing their neighbors by public appearances on a specially designed tandem.
Wright Brothers Introduction to AviationAfter reading the first scientific accounts of experiments with new flying machines, the Wright Brothers immediately joined the new field of science called aviation. In particular the newspaper accounts at that time of Otto Lilienthal's exhibitions with his glider stirred their interest and set them on to search the libraries for literature on the subject of flying. As they read of the work of Samuel Langley and others they concluded that the secret of flying could not be mastered theoretically in a laboratory; it must be learned in the air. They turned from the records of other inventors' models to study the one perfect model in their minds, the bird.
Flight is For the BirdsWilbur Wright when speaking before the Society of Western Engineers, at Chicago stated:
"The bird's wings are undoubtedly very well designed indeed, but it is not any extraordinary efficiency that strikes with astonishment, but rather the marvelous skill with which they are used. It is true that I have seen birds perform soaring feats of almost incredible nature in positions where it was not possible to measure the speed and trend of the wind, but whenever it was possible to determine by actual measurements the conditions under which the soaring was performed it was easy to account for it on the basis of the results obtained with artificial wings. The soaring problem is apparently not so much one of better wings as of better operators."