Orville and Wilbur Wright opened a bicycle shop in Dayton, OH, in 1892. Two
years earlier, the older Wilbur joined Orville in publishing a local newspaper,
The West Side News.
After a few years of making and repairing bicycles, they became interested in
glider planes. They had read Otto Lilienthal's books on soaring and Octave
Chanute's book on flying machines.
The Wrights chose Kitty Hawk, NC, for their experiments between 1900 and 1903,
during which they made more than 1,000 glider test flights.
They developed twisting of the wings, forerunner to the aileron, to guide the
device in flight.
The brothers then build a box-kite type of glider to carry one person in a
powered flight, using a screw-like propeller driven by a four-cylinder motor.
On December 17, 1903, Orville flew the glider for 120 feet in 12 seconds. They
patented the machine in 1906, and in 1908 had a U.S. War Department contract to
build a machine that went 125 miles at a speed of 40 miles per hour.
They formed the American Wright Company to build planes and train pilots.
Wilbur died in 1912, and Orville continued with the company for two years.