Who Invented the Airplane?

Who Invented the Airplane?

The history of the airplane shows it was invented by Orville (1871-1948) and Wilbur (1867-1912) Wright. They got the patent 9 months prior to their flight in December 1903.

The Early History of Flight

There are pictures showing Orville Wright on the plane flying. The craft flew to a height of 10 ft. It traversed a total of 120 feet and lasted 12 seconds in the air.

The story of airplanes is connected with man’s dream of flying. Man’s desire to fly goes back to ancient times. The ancient Greeks and Hindu tales feature stories of men flying around on animals or chariots.

There are some reports that in 400 BC, the Greek philosopher and mathematician Archytas invented a flying device. The apparatus was powered by steam. According to some reports it flew a distance of 600 feet. This would rewrite the history of the airplane if true, but it has not been fully verified.

Other Early Designs

The records show that in the 11trh century the monk Eilmer of Malmesbery had experimented with gliders in an attempt to fly. Another one was the poet Abbas. Leonardo Da Vinci left behind aircraft designs on the Codex of the Flight of Birds. The 18th century saw Francoise Pilatre de Rozier soar on a balloon.

In 1803, George Cayley (discoverer of the laws of aerodynamics) began experimenting with various gliders. An American scientist named John Montgomery was able to create a controlled glider in 1883.

The history of the airplane shows that a lot of other scientists who designed gliders. But it was not until the Wright brothers in 1903 that engine powered aircraft came into being.
After the Wright Brothers’ Flight

The Wright brothers’ flight in 1903 was the first to be adjudged by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale as sustained. Two years later in 1905, the Wright brothers came out with the Wright Flyer III. The plane had a lot more controls. It was also more stable.

World War I and Beyond

It was the outbreak of the war in 1914 that sped up development of aircraft. The history of the airplane was never the same. The war showed the potential of the plane as a weapon. Both the Germans and Allies used the planes to great effect.

After the end of the war, plane development (both for military and commercial use) continued to grow. The first transatlantic non stop journey was made in 1919.

This would be followed by a commercial flight from the US to Canada also in 1919. By the 1930s jet engine development was in full swing. During World War II, aircraft played a major role for both Allied and Axis powers.

In 1947, airplane technology broke new ground when Chuck Yeager smashed the sound barrier with the X-1. In 1952, commercial jets started coming out. These expanded in number very quickly in the 1960s.

The history of the airplane has completely altered the way people travel. Today, planes are an invaluable part of life in developed countries.

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9 Responses to “Who Invented the Airplane?”

  1. myxlplex says:

    guess Clement Ader has been forgotten to history….

  2. Mark Gade says:

    On December 6 1907 26 year-old Lt Thomas Etholan Selfridge, detailed by the US Army and invited by Alexander Graham Bell, completed a 7-minute trip in the first and only flight of Bell’s ‘Kite’, the Cygnet: a tetrahedral structure with a 42-foot wingspan, to an altitude of 168 ft. over Bras d’ Or Lake, Nova Scotia, towed by a motor boat tug, making Selfridge the first Canadian test pilot

    And on September 17 1908 at Fort Myer, Virginia, the same Lt. Selfridge flying with Orville Wright introduced the US Army to the Model A ‘Wright Flyer’ circling the field 4 and half times at 150 feet, when the propeller split fracturing his skull, making Lt. Selfridge the first military casualty of powered flight, in an accident adjacent to Arlington Nat’l Cemetery, where he was buried…

    Finally, January 21 1911, the US Army’s first radiotelegraphic transmission was made from a plane 100 ft. over Joy Aviation Field by Lt Paul Beck. The founder of Packard Motors, Henry B Joy turned 800 acres in Harrison Township planned for Packard test track into Joy Aviation Field. The mud flats bordering Lake St. Clair near Mt. Clemens, Michigan have been on the cutting edge of history since the Joy Realty Company of Detroit first developed a crude landing field. Since then it has been memorialized as Selfridge Field and hosted nearly every important figure in aviation history and played significant role in America’s air defenses, and known at various times as America’s No.1 Hornet’s Nest, Home of Generals and Home of the MiG Killers. The U.S. Army first leased the field from Joy in 1917. Three years later, the Army bought 600 soggy acres from Henry Joy for $190,000. At the outset of WW II, Selfridge expanded to 3700 acres and was used the field to train pilots as the world was engulfed in war. In 1947, it became Selfridge AFB, the only base in the US serving as a permanent base to all 5 branches of the military. And on July 1 1971, Selfridge AFB became Selfridge ANG.

  3. francesca resotta says:

    this article was a huge help in my presentation i presented the other day. thank you so very much for publishing this page.

  4. Arpith says:

    It Was Discovered By Indian Not Wright Brothers.

  5. Hotrod says:

    Brazil and France, Alberto Santos-Dumont (Brazilian) is considered the inventor of the airplane. On 23 October 1906, in Paris, Santos-Dumont flew the 14-Bis, self-propelled, 50-meter distance, 2 meters high from the ground, for 7 seconds, with a supervisory committee of the Aeroclub of France , who had promised a cash prize to the first man to make a flight.

    In almost all other countries, the Wright brothers are considered the pioneers of aviation to have flown on 17 December 1903, three years before Santos-Dumont. But this flight was done without witnesses or a scientific committee and the unit of Wright, other than 14-a, did not use its own propulsion. He was catapulted into the wind and only once managed to maintain the air.

    Also, the first flight made by Santos-Dumond happened years before the two brothers, but like them the flight has no witnesses, and so it explains why Santos-Dumond had to go to France to prove to the world his invention. Something that the brothers couldn’t prove even 3 years after their so called flight…

  6. JoeG says:

    Ask an American who invented the airplane and the response will be “the Wright brothers.” Ask a Brazilian the same question and the answer you get back will be “Alberto Santos-Dumont.”

    To which Americans reply, “Who?”

    The different answers stem from a controversy that stretches back to the dawn of the age of aviation.

    In the autumn of 1906, Santos-Dumont piloted his N° 14-bis airplane—a pusher-type biplane featuring a canard, or forward elevator—for a distance of nearly 200 feet (60 meters) at a height of about 10 ft. (2-3 meters) before a large crowd of Parisians. This well-documented event was the first flight verified by the world record-sanctioning body, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, of a powered heavier-than-air machine in Europe. The feat secured the Brazilian aviator the prestigious Archdeacon Prize for the first person to fly a fixed-wing aircraft more than 25 meters. Later that year, Santos-Dumont won an Aero Club de France Prize of ₣1,500 for the first flight of 100 meters (328 ft.)

    Alberto Santos-Dumont: A bon vivant. Courtesy Dominiopublico.gov.br

    Already a well-known aviation pioneer from having previously built and flown the first gasoline-powered, steerable airship as well as for his colorful, bon vivant lifestyle, Santos-Dumont was acclaimed as “the Father of Aviation” by Brazilians one and all. “Santos-Dumont is one of the major heroes of Brazilian history,” says Brazilian-born Bernardo Malfitano, a self-described aviation geek and Boeing Corp. aerospace engineer. “Rio de Janiero’s regional airport is named after Santos-Dumont and every airport in Brazil has a plaque dedicated to the man and often his statue,” he notes.

    What about Wilbur and Orville Wright? “At the time of Santos-Dumont’s Paris flights in 1906, the Wrights really hadn’t yet revealed themselves to the world,” according to Tom D. Crouch, senior curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. There were only unconfirmed press reports and rumors of their initial Kitty Hawk (Kill Devil Hills, N.C.) flights of 1903, news of which soon faded.

    “People in Europe had seen Santos-Dumont fly before the Wrights ever went to Europe, so it was only natural that he was widely celebrated,” says Crouch, who is a Chevalier of the Order of Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian aviation honor. “Two years later, in 1908, when the Wright brothers travelled to France and performed public demonstrations of their improved Wright Flyer, it blew everybody away since it could do things that no other airplane could do.”
    Arguments Over Precedence

    Proponents of Santos-Dumont’s claim to precedence offer what might be termed a legalistic argument in return. “His N° 14-bis flights were the first public demonstrations of an aircraft taking off from an airstrip with a non-detachable landing gear and under its own power in calm weather,” Malfitano says, referring to the fact that Wright Flyer used a monorail track and a weight-driven launch catapult as well as faced into the strong Outer Banks headwinds to get aloft.

    But Crouch calls this argument nonsense. “Everybody took off into the wind. It would be crazy to try to take off into a crosswind in those lightweight machines. And the track was used because wheels don’t work on sand. The Wrights could have easily added wheels,” he says.

    On top of that, Crouch says, “the N° 14-bis had almost no control in the roll axis. It could pretty much only fly straight. To circle, you had to try to stay under the under aircraft with the rudder.” The Wright Flyer, in contrast, had full authority flight controls (which gives a pilot control over the roll, pitch and yaw of an aircraft).
    Airship Pioneer

    Despite the disagreement over who flew first, there’s no doubting that Santos-Dumont is a major figure in the history of aviation. The son of a wealthy Brazilian coffee planter, Santos-Dumont was “absolutely fascinated by flight,” Crouch says. “And his famous exploits, his charisma and enormously flamboyant behavior and his full-on obsession with aviation made him an inspirational figure who got average people excited about flying.” He would host dinner parties at his home where he had suspended the dining room table and chairs from the ceiling so guests would take their seats using step ladders, Crouch says. He is also credited with popularizing the wrist watch for men.

    Even before building the N° 14bis, he had pioneered lighter-than-air flight by constructing and flying eleven steerable airships, or dirigibles, says Malfitano. “He would glide along Paris boulevards at rooftop level in one of his airships, commonly landing in front of a fashionable outdoor cafe for lunch.”

    In late 1901, Santos-Dumont piloted his dirigible N° 6 from the Parc Saint Cloud in the Paris suburbs to the Eiffel Tower and back, 6.8 miles (11 kilometers), in less than a half-hour, winning the Deutsch de la Meurthe Cup and its ₣100,000 prize. The victorious aeronaut cemented his position as one of the leading celebrities of the city when he presented one-quarter of the purse to his crew and the rest to the poor people of Paris. “In doing so, he captured the world’s imagination,” Crouch says, “sparking in Europe and the U.S. a wave of one-man airships and daredevil aeronauts for years afterward.”
    National Hero

    “Santos-Dumont’s final aircraft design was the Demoiselle monoplane, a forerunner of the modern ultra-light airplane that became quite popular,” Malfitano says. “He used the Demoiselle as his personal transportation. And unlike the secretive Wright brothers, he willingly let others copy his design.”

    Alberto Santos-Dumont returned to Brazil a national hero in 1928. After his death four years later, his house in Petropolis, Brazil was made into a museum.

    Top image: Santos-Dumont’s N° 14-bis airplane on an undated postcard.

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    Steven Ashley is a contributing editor at Txchnologist. His last article looked at electric rocket propulsion. His work has been published in Scientific American, Popular Science and MIT’s Technology Review, among others.

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  7. Daniel says:

    Wrong.. Was invented by Santos Dummont!

  8. juliana says:

    The father of aviation is Alberto Santos Dumont. He was the firt one to invent a airplane that could fly for itself, with no help, wind or catapult.

    google it.

  9. Alan says:

    This is a slander!!! Who invented the airplane was Alberto Santos Dumont in 1906, he was Brazilian and lived in France, the Wright brother flew propelled by a catapult the Brazilian has invented an engine able to lift the plane only with hydraulic power, the airplane patent in the name of brothers Wight was one of the biggest hoaxes the world has ever seen, it was all part of the publicity that the U.S. did and still do to find the strongest, the best. In Brazil and in France, Alberto Santos Dumont was and always will be the inventor of the airplane, the wristwatch and airships.