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Wright 1905 Flyer


Computer drawing of the Wright 1905 aircraft

This page shows a computer drawing of the Wright brothers' 1905 aircraft. This machine was the third powered aircraft built by the brothers. In a larger sense, this aircraft was the first practical working airplane because, in its design, the brothers solved the pitching problem which had plagued the 1903 and 1904 aircraft. This aircraft was the culmination of their efforts beginning in 1900.

By the end of 1904, the brothers were making flights of several minutes from Huffman Field outside Dayton, Ohio. The 1904 aircraft was hard to control and fairly heavy for its small 18 horse power motor. The brothers decided to keep the same engine, but to re-design the airframe to eliminate the pitch problem present on both the 1903 and 1904 machines. The solution was rather simple. The brothers increased the size of the elevator and rudder and moved the elevator and rudder farther from the center of gravity. This increased the torque produced by the control surface and provided greater control for the aircraft. The overall length of the aircraft increased from 18 feet to 28 feet.

You can study the design of the 1905 aircraft by changing the view using the buttons at the bottom of this Java program.

Due to IT security concerns, many users are currently experiencing problems running NASA Glenn educational applets. The applets are slowly being updated, but it is a lengthy process. If you are familiar with Java Runtime Environments (JRE), you may want to try downloading the applet and running it on an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) such as Netbeans or Eclipse. The following are tutorials for running Java applets on either IDE:

You can download your own copy of this applet by pushing the following button:

Button to Download Applet

The program is downloaded in .zip format. You must save the file to disk and then "Extract" the files. Click on "1905.html" to run the program off-line.

Between the 1904 and 1905 aircraft, you will notice that the radiator and fuel tank were moved back to the front strut, as on the 1903 aircraft, and the size of the fuel tank was increased. The weight was also reduced by eliminating the 70 pounds of ballast. The 1905 aircraft weighed about 860 pounds with the pilot. The brothers added small semi-circular surfaces called "blinkers" between the elevators to improve the aircraft's lateral stability. The brothers retained the catapult launching system first used in 1904. Here is a photo taken in 1905 of the aircraft at Huffman Field with the launching "derrick" visible at the far right

Photo of the first flight of the Wright 1905 Flyer

The 1905 aircraft could be flown until the fuel tank was empty; staying in the air for more than a half hour, flying nearly 25 miles around Huffman's farm, executing turns and figure 8's, and flying more than 50 feet off the ground. Here is a photo taken in 1905 of the aircraft in flight

Photo of the Wright 1905 Flyer in flight

After six years of work, the brothers finally had a practical working airplane and began to market it to the War Department.


To celebrate the Centennial of Flight in 2003, several people around the country have built replicas of Wright aircraft. Mark Dusenberry, of Dennison, Ohio, has built and flies a full scale replica of the 1905 flyer.


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Re-Living the Wright Way
Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics
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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Apr 05 2018

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