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Wright Brothers Glider, Kitty Hawk, NC, 1900
This gallery offers a fascinating look at the history of flight through the camera lens of the Wright Brothers. They did a great job of documenting their earliest failures and successes.
There are ample resources to study the Wright Brothers; here, I’ve usually provided only the spare captions attached to the individual pictures in the collection.
These images are in the public domain, from the Collection: Glass negatives from the Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, housed in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.
nnFor the full collection, click here.
Orville Wright, 1897
Before the big moustache
Wilbur Wright, 1897
Wilbur at age 30
Wilbur working in the bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio
Early accident, 1900
Crumpled glider wrecked by the wind on Hill of the Wreck (named after a shipwreck)
Left side view of the 1900 Wright glider before installation of forward horizontal control surface, flying as a kite, tipped forward; Kitty Hawk Lifesaving Station and Weather Bureau buildings in background to the left
Camp at Kitty Hawk, 1900
Closeup view of the Wright brothers’ tent at Kitty Hawk
Wilbur on glider, 1901
Wilbur Wright in prone position on glider just after landing, its skid marks visible behind it and, in the foreground, skid marks from a previous landing; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Glider being flown as kite, 1901
Wilbur at left side, Orville at right; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Back to the drawing board, 1901
Wright brothers rebuilding their glider in a wooden shed erected in July to serve as a workshop and to house the glider in bad weather, August, 1901; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Orville at left wing end of upended glider, bottom view; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Time-out for local fauna, 1901
Sand crab; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Working with the glider, 1901
Side view of glider flying as a kite near the ground, Wilbur at left and Orville at right, glider turned forward to right and tipped downward
Piloting the glider, 1901
Side view of Wilbur Wright piloting a glider in level flight almost overhead, moving to left, showing bottom wing and elevator
Otto Lilienthal glider, 1895 (from a magazine or newspaper)
Start of a glide; Wilbur in motion at left holding one end of glider (rebuilt with single vertical rudder), Orville lying prone in machine, and Dan Tate at right; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Wilbur gliding in level flight, single rear rudder clearly visible; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Kill Devil Hill, 1902
Wilbur gliding down steep slope of Big Kill Devil Hill; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
In the shop, 1903
Powered 1903 machine in the shop
Damaged machine, 1903
Wilbur in prone position in damaged machine on ground after unsuccessful trial of December 14, 1903; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
First flight, December 17, 1903
First flight, 120 feet in 12 seconds, 10:35 a.m.; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
The Wright Brothers invented and built the world’s first successful airplane and made the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight on 17 December 1903. They are officially credited worldwide through the Fu00e9du00e9ration Au00e9ronautique Internationale, the standard setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics. The Wright Brothers later developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft through the invention of flight controls.
Wilbur and Orville Wright with their second powered machine; Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio
Flight 19: Orville piloting, covering a distance of 356 feet, machine close to the ground; Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio
Side view of flight 41, showing the machine traveling to the right, with double horizontal rudder in front and double vertical rudder behind, as Orville flew 12 miles; Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio
Rear view of flight 46, Orville shown flying at a high altitude over Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio.
Wright Flying School, 1910
Series of flights from May through July, just after the opening of the Wright Flying School, probably Orville acting as instructor; Simms Station, Dayton, Ohio
Exterior view of the Wright Company factory; Dayton, Ohio, 1911
The Wright Company was incorporated on November 22, 1909. The factory was completed in November 1910 and a duplicate building was erected in 1911. The buildings continued in use until the Wright Company was sold, October 15, 1915.
Magneto side of the Wright four-cylinder motor used in 1911
Inside the airplane, 1911
Close-up view of airplane, including the pilot and passenger seats
Sister, Katherine Wright, 1915
Katharine Wright, wearing a leather jacket, cap, and goggles, aboard the Wright Model HS airplane with Orville, 1915
Orville's best friend, 1917
Scipio, a St. Bernard dog Orville acquired in March, 1917
Meeting Charles Lindbergh, 1927
Orville Wright, Major John F. Curry, and Colonel Charles Lindbergh, who came to pay Orville a personal call at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. June 22, 1927 [Wilbur died in 1912]
Charles Lindbergh famously piloted the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis in May 1927.
Underside view of the Wright brothers’ reconstructed 1903 motor
Rear view of the Wright brothers’ four-cylinder motor as installed in their 1903 airplane