Inventors: The Wright Brothers

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By John Davisteacher and freelance writer

Build a model aeroplane and learn about flying pioneers, Orville and Wilbur Wright.

About the Wright Brothers

Orville and Wilbur Wright

Wilbur and Orville Wright built printing machinery and made bicycles before they began to construct early aeroplanes. By 1900 they tested their first glider. The spot they chose was at Kitty Hawk, a seaside village in North Carolina, USA where there were long stretches of open sand and strong winds.

The brothers set about building a flying machine driven by a petrol engine. Called Flyer 1, the machine they developed first flew on 1 December 1903. It was in the air for twelve seconds, reached a height of three metres and flew a distance of thirty-six metres along the beach.

By 1905 the flying machine was staying up for as long as forty minutes. The Wright brothers had not only built the first successful aeroplane with its own special engine, they had discovered a system of control mechanisms that would guide the aircraft while in flight.

Make your own aeroplane

Explore the forces that affect flying, thrust, drag, lift and gravity by making model aircraft from A4 sheets of cartridge paper or thin card.

  • Fold a sheet of A4 paper or thin card from short edge to short edge.
    Wright Brothers 1
  • Open it out and fold a narrow crease about 15mm down from the edge of the long side.
    Wright Brothers 2
  • Fold again several times. Refold to the centre line and then cut out a large notch from the paper.
    Wright Brothers 3
  • Once opened out, fold the wing tips up and fold down the outer edges of the tail.
    Wright Brothers 4
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