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History of Flight - The Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers invented and flew the first powered & piloted airplane.

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History of Flight - The Wright Brothers
In 1908, passenger flight took a turn for the worse when the first fatal air crash occurred on September 17. Orville Wright was piloting the plane. Orville Wright survived the crash, but his passenger, Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, did not. The Wright Brothers had been allowing passengers to fly with them since May 14, 1908.

In 1909, the U.S. Government bought its first airplane, a Wright Brothers biplane, on July 30. The airplane sold for $25,000 plus a bonus of $5,000 because it exceeded 40 mph.

Wright Brothers - Vin Fiz

In 1911, the Wrights' Vin Fiz was the first airplane to cross the United States. The flight took 84 days, stopping 70 times. It crash-landed so many times that little of its original building materials were still on the plane when it arrived in California. The Vin Fiz was named after a grape soda made by the Armour Packing Company.

First Armed Airplane

In 1912, a Wright Brothers plane, the first airplane armed with a machine gun was flown at an airport in College Park, Maryland. The airport had existed since 1909 when the Wright Brothers took their government-purchased airplane there to teach Army officers to fly.

On July 18, 1914, an Aviation Section of the Signal Corps (part of the Army) was established. Its flying unit contained airplanes made by the Wright Brothers as well as some made by their chief competitor, Glenn Curtiss.

Patent Suit

That same year, the U.S. Court has decided in favor of the Wright Brothers in a patent suit against Glenn Curtiss. The issue concerned lateral control of aircraft, for which the Wrights maintained they held patents.

Although Curtiss's invention, ailerons (French for "little wing"), was far different from the Wrights' wing-warping mechanism, the Court determined that use of lateral controls by others was "unauthorized" by patent law.

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