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"Re-living The Wright Way"

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Invention Process

Researched Flight

Tested Theories

Flight Control

Test Pilot Skills

Propulsion System

First Flight

Flight Development

Pushing Envelope

Wilbur Wright Bio

Orville Wright Bio

Lesson Plans






1900 - Aircraft

1901 - Aircraft

1902 - Aircraft

Powered Aircraft

1903 - Wright Flyer

1904 - Aircraft

1905 - Aircraft

Flight Control

Wing Warping

1901 - Wind Tunnel

Wright Brothers' Invention Process

(1900 - 1902) - Developed Flight Control Systems

The Wright brothers' ideas for flight control were tested on a series of unpowered aircraft between 1900 and 1902.

Photo of 1902 aircraft as a kite
These aircraft were all flown as kites to obtain aerodynamic performance. The Wright Brothers were kite enthusiasts and they used the kite flights in the same way that modern engineers use wind tunnels and flight testing to try out their ideas concerning flight control. Kitty Hawk, North Carolina was chosen for their early flight experiments because its consistent high winds off the ocean are perfect for kite flying. The brothers correctly reasoned that a free flying object had to be controlled about all three primary axes; roll, pitch, and yaw. Their aircraft were built with movable surfaces on the wing, elevator, and rudder. Control of the surface shape was in the hands of the pilot. They extensively tested these ideas by glider flights of the aircraft.

Today, NASA engineers at the Langley Research Center use sophisticated models and wind tunnels to improve the flight control of modern aircraft. These ideas are flight tested at the Dryden Flight Research Center.

Legend of Related Programs:: W Website
L Lesson Plans/Materials
A Activity
V Webcasts/Video
S Simulation

Program Description Grade W L A V C S
Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics Learn about how airplanes fly, including the forces that lift them off the ground, keep them in the air, and help them land. K-12 x       x x
Central Operations of Resources for Education (CORE) CORE is the world-wide distribution center of NASA-produced, educational, multimedia materials. The public has access to over 200 videocassettes, slides, and CD-ROMs chronicling NASA's state-of-the-art research and technology. K-16 x x        
K-8 Aeronautics Internet Textbook Numerous lesson plans, demonstrations, activities and information on aerospace careers are available. Detailed information on the Wright Brother's Flight Process, including journal entries, are also featured. K- 8 x   x      
Mobile Aeronautics Education Laboratory (MAEL) The mobile state-of-the-art Aeronautics Education Laboratory brings new technologies to partnership cities to excite students about science and math. Visitors can experience 10 hands-on workstations that model real world aviation chK-16enges like weather forecasting, flight design, airfoil design, and flight controls. K-12   x       x
Plane Math This interactive website, designed for children with physical disabilities, contains activities relating math to aeronautics. K-4 x   x      
The Wright Brothers Posters This pair of posters includes "The Process of Invention" and "Innovation Through Flight". Both posters showcase the vital role that engineering has played in human progress. K-12 x   x      
The Wright Way Learn about the development of the first manned, powered flight from its conception through research and experimentation, to success and beyond. This website features facts, lesson plans, simulations, activities, and contains information on how to participate in the Centennial of Flight Celebration. K-12 x x x     x

Site Map and Links to Wright Brothers Information



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Editor: Kelly Sands
NASA Official: Nancy Hall
Last Updated: Mon, May 10 02:09:25 PM EDT 2021

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