Aeroplane Aviation Archive — Issue 33 The World’s Fastest Aircraft

(Jacob Rumans) #1



t is something of a paradox that the
slowest aircraft of its time should also be
the fastest! But that was the situation on
17 December 1903 when the Wright brothers
inaugurated the aerial age with their  rst
successful powered  ights at Kitty Hawk,
North Carolina. Flying 120ft in 10 seconds,
the Wright Flyer achieved a speed of just
6.82mph, thus becoming the world’s fastest
powered aircraft!

Wright Flyer

The Wright Flyer, sometimes referred to
as the Kitty Hawk Flyer, was the product of a
sophisticated four-year programme of research
and development conducted by Wilbur and
Orville Wright beginning in 1899. During the
Wrights’ design and construction of their
experimental aircraft they also pioneered many
of the basic tenets and techniques of modern
aeronautical engineering, such as the use of a
wind tunnel and  ight testing as design tools.
Having gained much experience successfully
 ying gliders, during the spring and summer

of 1903 the Wright brothers built their  rst
powered aircraft. Essentially a larger and
sturdier version of their 1902 glider, the only
fundamentally new component of the 1903
aircraft was the propulsion system. With the
assistance of their bicycle shop mechanic,
Charles Taylor, the Wrights built a small 12hp
gasoline engine. While the engine was a
signi cant enough achievement, the genuinely
innovative feature of the propulsion system
was the propellers. The brothers conceived
Below: The Wright Flyer takes to the air. the propellers as rotary wings, producing
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