1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wright, Wilbur

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WRIGHT, WILBUR (1867-1912), American inventor, was born near Millville, Ind., April 16 1867. He was the son of Milton Wright, a bishop of the United Brethren in Christ. He secured a high-school education in Richmond, Ind., and Dayton, O. Together with his brother Orville he opened a shop for repairing bicycles at Dayton in the early ‘nineties. The Wright brothers early became interested in the problem of flying, and from about 1900 made many experiments with gliding machines at Kittyhawk, N.C. On Dec. 17 1903 such a machine with a petrol motor attached flew 260 yd., the first successful flight of an aeroplane; and on Oct. 5 1905, near Dayton, they accomplished their first successful long flight, more than 24 m., at the speed of 38 m. an hour. In spite of this proof of the practicability of flight in heavier-than-air machines, they were unsuccessful in enlisting financial support in America. In 1908 Wilbur Wright went to France, and on Sept. 21 won the Michelin prize by a flight of 56 miles. This brought him international fame. In Dec. of the same year he made from Le Mans, France, a flight of 77 m. in 2 hours and 20 minutes. In 1909, during the Hudson-Fulton Exposition in New York City, he flew from Governor's I. up the Hudson river to Grant's tomb and back, travelling 21 m. in 33 minutes and 33 seconds. On March 3 1909 Congress awarded the Wright brothers a special medal. Later the U.S. Government purchased a machine for $30,000, and afterwards the invention was officially adopted by the U.S. army. The French patents were sold for $100,000. After 1910 Wilbur Wright gave up public flying and devoted his time to mechanical improvement of the Wright machine. He received many medals and honours from European countries. He died at Dayton, May 30 1912.

His brother, Orville Wright (1871-       ), was born at Dayton, O., Aug. 18 1871. He was educated in the Dayton schools, worked with his brother Wilbur in the bicycle repairing business, and was closely associated with him in all his experiments in developing a practicable aeroplane. He shared in the many honours awarded by foreign countries, and after the death of his brother became director of the Wright Aeronautical Laboratory at Dayton. In 1913 he received the Collier trophy for developing the automatic stabilizer. In 1915 he was appointed a member of the U.S. Naval Consulting Board. The same year the Wright Aeroplane Co. sold its patents to a New York syndicate, Orville Wright remaining chief engineer.