Learning Center Our Enshrinees

Wilbur Wright

  • He and his brother, Orville Wright (enshrined 1962), became interested in flight after being gifted a toy helicopter-like top from their father. 
  • Started The Wright Cycle Company with his brother in 1892.
  • Read about Otto Lillenthal’s glider experiments in 1895 which renewed the brother’s fascination of flight. The death of Lilienthal in 1896 prompted them to learn even more about aeronautics. After Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian Institution for information on aeronautical research, they obtained all the available scientific knowledge about aviation and were ready to embark on a scientific approach to flight.
  • Tested wing concepts in their homemade wind tunnel before attempting powered flight.
  • Aided in the first sustained controlled powered flight on December 17, 1903. Orville flew 120 feet in 12 seconds and accomplished four flights that day with Wilbur making the longest flight, flying 852 feet in 59 seconds.
  • Received a contract with the U.S. Department of War for the first military airplane.
  • Opened a flying school and formed the Wright Company to manufacture their airplanes.
  • Posthumously awarded the first Guggenheim Medal in 1929 for his and Orville’s contributions to aviation.
  • Among the first aviation pioneers to be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1962.

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