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Orville Wright: The Art and Science of Aviation, 1914

Gathering Information

Beginning in 1896, the Wrights progressed from information in their father's library and the local public library to requesting information from the Smithsonian Institution. Their information grew wider as they gathered books describing the birth of aviation by authors such as Chanute, Lilienthal, and Langley.

Using this information, the Wrights first flying machine was a kite, built in 1899, which incorporated their essential solution to the question of directional control during flight. With sticks attached to lines which were then connected to the edges of the kite's wings, the operator was able to bend or twist the leading edges of the wings to cause dipping and lifting. Dipping at one side makes the kite turn in the dip direction and lifting across the front causes the kite to fly upward (reversing the direction causes downward flying). Most importantly, reliable flight control is achieved.