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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Wright Way to Invent A Plane - Part - 2

In this post, I'll continue the story of the Wright Brothers story which started in 'The Wright Way to Invent A Plane'

Orville Wright’s Secret Diary




December 16, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It’s all my brothers fault. Two days ago he tried to take off but the controls were set wrong and he crashed. Ever since, we have been repairing the damage and waiting for the wind to drop so that we can risk flying again. Time is running out and we’ve got to be home for Christmas or Pa will never forgive us!

December 16, 1903
We’ve decided to fly this morning. To be honest, there have been times when I’ve doubted we’d do it. It’s taken four months of hard work. Will it be worth it? I wondered. I asked a local John Daniels to take a photo if the plane flew – but John hadn’t used a camera and didn’t know which end was which. Slowly, we pushed the plane from its shed. John and his friends helped. I lay on the lower wing (that’s where the pilot goes – we really ought to invent a more comfy seat!) as Wilbur pushed the propellers o start the engine, the others pushed our plane along our home-made rails. The engine coughed and spluttered to life… WHOOOSH! My heart jumped into my mouth. I was up in the air. I was FLYING! At last the plane came down but I’ve done it. The flight was awesome, it was MASSIVE, it was all of 40 meters – and I must have been in the air for a WHOLE 12 SECONDS! WOW!
And it just got better. John Daniels did manage to take my photo – pity I wasn’t smiling at that time! After coffee Wilbur flew 52 meters – trust my brother to try and beat me! So I showed him – I flew 61 meters, although I did go up and down a bit. But just when I felt like crowing, my big-headed brother flew 200 meters, although he did crash. Luckily he’s fine – what’s with him always crashing? Then it was my turn and I beat his record, but then flew for nearly a minute and got 260 meters. Show-off! We sent a telegram to Pa telling him we’d be home for Christmas. Now that’s what I call a GOOD day’s work!

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Now I bet you’re itching to find out what happened to the Wright Brothers who were last seen celebrating their success with a slap-up Christmas dinner. The Wrights knew that they had to improve their planes before they could think of selling them and making money. So they built two planes, Flyers 2 and 3. They tested it until they could fly 66 km and reach the height of 110 meters. At last, the brothers set out to wow the world. Orville went to Washington DC to wow the US Army and Wilbur went to Paris to wow European flying fans. At first the French didn’t think much of Wilbur. They didn’t like his greasy old clothes and the way he slept in plane sheds and ate out of tins and burped in public. But once they saw him fly his plane, they changed their tune. After all, the best the Europeans could manage was a giant box-kite, which managed to hop 4.5 meters of the ground, not even as far as Wilbur’s best 1903 effort. So when they saw Wilbur flying happily in the sky in his plane, they were gobsmacked. They rushed to their garden sheds and started making planes based on the Wright Brothers plane. But the Flyer was a very dangerous plane. It had no brakes, no seat belts and no undercarriage wheels. In 1908, Orville was flying over a cemetery when he lost control and crashed. He was badly hurt and his passenger Thom Selfridge was killed. The airplane had claimed its first victim

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Bet you never knew!
 Despite the safety problems, the Wrights made lots of money, but spent years in the courts fighting their rivals. Wilbur ruined his health with worry. In 1912, he died of a gut disease.
The Europeans didn’t copy everything from the Wrights. They used ailerons instead of wing-wrapping to turn the plane in mid air.
  
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Taken from 'Horrible Science: Fight for Flight'



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