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Q:

How did the Wright Brothers even think of flight?

A:

The Wright Brothers weren’t actually the first people to try to fly, though they managed to think of flight differently than other scientists before them.  Some of the Wright Brothers’ predecessors in the study of flight include George Cayley (inventor of the glider), Alphonse Penaud (his “bat” toy piqued the Wright Brothers’ interest in the study of flight), Otto Lilienthal, Octave Chanute, and even Leonardo da Vinci.  In the late 1800s, many people tried to build planes, but none of them met all three conditions for a successful flight: sustained, powered, and controlled.  Before the Wright Brothers built their plane, some engineers figured out how to sustain their flights using Bernoulli’s Principle, and power it with engines and propellers.  Other engineers figured out how to pitch and yaw their planes, but were missing a final motion: roll.  The Wright Brothers invented wing-warping in order to roll their plane, making it easy for the pilot to turn the plane.  This innovation allowed for the first successful flight.

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Categories: Flight Dynamics