Wright Again

Wright Again

Fishing, Light Winds And A Rudder - Friday, October 3, 1902

The History: Orville and Wilbur were very close. As Wilbur said, "From the time we were little children my brother Orville and myself lived together, played together, worked together and, in fact, thought together. We usually owned all of our toys in common, talked over our thoughts and aspirations so that nearly everything that was done in our lives has been the result of conversations, suggestions and discussions between us.

BUT - if there was one complaint Orville had it was that he felt his older brother used the word "I" when he meant "we". Wilbur would infer that "he" had done something when he should have said that both "he and Orville" had done something together.

Last night, having had one too many cups of coffee, Orville could not sleep and tossed and turned thinking about their "well-digging" (tail-spin problem). Orville developed an aerodynamic explanation of "well-digging" and in the middle of the night worked out a new design for the machine's tail to correct the problem.

In the morning at breakfast before discussing his thoughts on the vertical tail, well-digging and proposing a new rudder, Orville gave their older brother, Lorin, a wink. This signaled Lorin that Orville was prepared for Wilbur to claim he had already thought of the solution to the problem.

Orville misjudged this time. Wilbur listened as Orville explained the problem and proposed that the fixed vertical tail should be replaced with a single vane moveable rudder. Wilbur accepted Orville's proposal. Then he startled Orville by additionally suggesting the rudder controls be connected to the wing warping mechanism. This would simplify the controls for the operator.

This system was build and allowed the operator to completely control the machine. The Wrights would later file a patent for this system. Today, all modern winged aircraft still use this same basic 3-dimensional control system.

Lorin Wright (Orville and Wilbur's older brother) and George Spratt caught crabs in the morning to use as fishing bait in the afternoon. According to Orville's diary, "They returned about 4 o'clock P.M. with an eel, and a few small chubs and robins, and a good deal of sunburn."

Light winds forced them to stop gliding. The morning's glides were not recorded. Here is a sample of the afternoon's glides. (WW is Wilbur Wright and OW is Orville Wright.)

Distance [feet]
Time [seconds]
279 --- 7°20´
315 14 1/4 7°35´
189 12 1/5 9°40´
318 ---- 7°40´
168 8 9°50´
255 13 1/4 7°20´

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