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

(Jacob Rumans) #1


Wright Flyer

Max speed: 30mph (48km/h) with
later Flyer
Engine: 1 x straight- 4
piston engine
Power: 12hp
Wingspan: 40ft 4in (12.3m)
Length: 21ft 1in (6.4m)
Height: 9ft 4in (2.8m)

a horizontal thrust force aerodynamically.
By turning an airfoil section on its side and
spinning it to create an air  ow over the surface,
the Wrights reasoned that a horizontal ‘lift’
force would be generated that would propel
the aircraft forward. The concept was one of
the most original and creative aspects of the
Wright’s aeronautical work. The 1903 machine
was  tted with two propellers mounted behind
the wings and connected to the engine,
centrally located on the bottom wing, via a
chain-and-sprocket transmission system.
By the autumn of 1903, the powered machine
was ready for trial. A number of problems with
the engine transmission system delayed the
 rst  ight attempt until mid-December. After
winning the toss of a coin to determine which

brother would make the  rst try, Wilbur took
the pilot’s position and made an unsuccessful
attempt on 14 December, damaging the Flyer
slightly. Repairs were completed for a second
attempt on 17 December. It was now Orville’s
turn. At 10.35hrs the Flyer lifted o the beach
at Kitty Hawk for a 12sec  ight, travelling 120ft
(36m). Three more  ights were made that
morning, the brothers alternating as pilot. The
second and third were in the range of 200ft.
With Wilbur at the controls, the fourth and last
 ight covered 852ft (255.6m) in 59sec. With
this  nal long, sustained e ort, there was no
question the Wrights had  own.
As the brothers and the others present
discussed the long  ight, a gust of wind
overturned the Wright Flyer and sent it

tumbling across the sand. The aircraft was
severely damaged and never  ew again. But the
Wrights had achieved what they had set out to
do. They had successfully demonstrated their
design for a heavier-than-air  ying machine.
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