Header Bar Graphic
Shuttle Image and IconAerospace HeaderBoy Image
Spacer TabHomepage ButtonWhat is NASA Quest ButtonSpacerCalendar of Events ButtonWhat is an Event ButtonHow do I Participate ButtonSpacerBios and Journals ButtonSpacerPics, Flicks and Facts ButtonArchived Events ButtonQ and A ButtonNews ButtonSpacerEducators and Parents ButtonSpacer
Highlight Graphic
Sitemap ButtonSearch ButtonContact Button

February 24, 1999
QuestChat with Orville & Wilbur Wright

Inventors of the first powered airplane
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 8 - 10:31:30 ]
Welcome to today's chat with the Wright Brothers. They're just coming in from their workshop now and will be with us in two minutes :-)

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 14 - 10:35:29 ]
Looks like Orville and Wilbur have been delayed out in the hanger. They're waving to me "wright" now and will be in the chat room in a moment... Thanks for being patient :-)

[ Orville - 15 - 10:36:14 ]
Hello everybody

[ WrightBros/KittyHawk - 16 - 10:36:26 ]
Wilbur is here. Good Morning everyone.

[ Wilbur - 18 - 10:37:48 ]
Good morning Orville, hello everyone

[ Orville - 21 - 10:39:31 ]
RE: [PaigeandMatt-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] how was your first flight like?
My first flight when really fast. It lasted about 12 seconds, and I went a little over 120 ft. It was very exihilerating.

[ Wilbur - 24 - 10:40:30 ]
RE: [Jason-Ms.Grenier/OttawaElementarySchool] How big was your first airplane?
Our first aircraft (really only a glider had a 16 foot wingspan. We wanted a bigger one but couldn't find wood long enough.

[ Wilbur - 30 - 10:42:32 ]
RE: [MaddieandMichelle-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] do you like the air plane when it loops upside-down?
Orville and I never did an upside dwon loop in any of the Wright gliders or powered aircraft. It wouldn't have been a very good idea at that level of development.

[ Orville - 31 - 10:43:05 ]
RE: [Maddie-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] what was it like being the first people to fly?
It was very difficult getting people to believe that we had done it. Most people were skeptical because so many people had made claims about flying that weren't true

[ Wilbur - 32 - 10:43:17 ]
RE: [MaddieandMichelle-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] do you like the air plane when it loops upside-down?
Orville and I never performed any upside down loops.

[ Wilbur - 40 - 10:46:18 ]
RE: [Paige-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] how did it fill to make that first real flight
Actually I (Wilbur) made an earlier flight (sort of) on December 13th, 1903, but I overcontrolled the aircraft and it only flew about 60 feet. Neither Orville or I ever considered this as a really successful flight. Orville made the first successful flight on December 17th, 1903.

[ Paige-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool - 46 - 10:47:35 ]
RE: [MaddieandMichelle-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] How old are you? or how old would orville and wilbur be if they were alive today?
I was born in 1871 and Wilbur was born in 1867. We would be really old if we were alive today.

[ Wilbur - 49 - 10:48:00 ]
RE: [Stephen-Ms.Grenier/OttawaElementarySchool] How was the first military plane you built used?
The first military plane (actually the 1909 model sold to the U.S. Army was used solely for observation and training.

[ HollyandKajal-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool - 58 - 10:50:47 ]
RE: [Paige-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] wre you scared that you might crash and hurt yourself
Wilbur and I were very worried about crashing the same way that Otto Lilithenal did in 1896. That why our design worked the way it did. To prevent that type of crash.

[ Wilbur - 65 - 10:51:45 ]
RE: [Maddie-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] what was it like being the first people to fly an airplane?
Orville and I were very excited and very satisfied and gratified that our experiments had been successful. We even sometimes surprised ourselves with our success. We were not believed (that we could actually fly) in the United States for several years though. they believed us in Europe in 1908.

[ Orville - 69 - 10:53:49 ]
RE: [Paige-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] do you still live in North Carolina
We only stayed in North Carolina during the flights at Kitty Hawk. Our home was in Dayton, Ohio

[ Wilbur - 72 - 10:54:46 ]
RE: [Maddie-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] did you ever have any diubt about flying?
Yes, we certainly did. In fact we even said after the rather disappointing results of the 1901 glider that, "Man will never fly in a thousand years." Yes we got discouraged from time to time but we kept on trying and working and we eventually succeeded. Never give up.

[ Orville - 73 - 10:55:34 ]
RE: [Amy-Mrs.Camp/LakeParkElem] How many attempts did you make on the first day?
We made 4 flights on Dec 17, 1903. Those were the only 4 flights made by the 1903 airplane

[ Wilbur - 78 - 10:57:57 ]
RE: [Paige-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] how did you get an idea of making an airplane and not something else.
We got the idea of building an airplane from reading about the experiments of Otto Lillienthal in Germany and his gliding experiments. We also read about his accidental death from a gliding accident in 1896 so we were very aware of the dangers.

[ Orville - 79 - 10:58:11 ]
RE: [Michelle-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] how did you think of the areodyenimcs to get the plane to lift off the ground?
We observed birds and how they flew. We also saw the work of others and learned what worked and what didn't.

[ Orville - 85 - 11:00:25 ]
RE: [Jason-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] who inspired you to try to fly?
Lilienthal was an inspiration, and Octave Chanute was a big inspiration, especially after all of the failures in 1901

[ Wilbur - 86 - 11:00:51 ]
RE: [HollyandKajal-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] How long did it take you to build your first plane?
Our first plane took about two months to build in the back of the bicycle shop and then it was disassembled and hauled to Kitty Hawk where we bought the lun-mber for the wing spars (somewhat shorter than we wanted) and then took about two week to reassemble the aircraft (the first glider I mean) at Kitty Hawk.

[ Orville - 88 - 11:02:54 ]
RE: [Claire-Mrs.Camp/LakeParkElem] What kind of tools did you use to help build the glider?
We used many of the tools found in our bicycle shop, including lathes, drill presses, etc.

[ Orville - 94 - 11:04:39 ]
RE: [Jason-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] who's design did you use to make your plane?
Our airplane design was strictly our own. My brother and I discussed every point down to the smallest detail, and even argued about some.

[ Wilbur - 97 - 11:06:46 ]
RE: [HollyandKajal-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] How long did it take you to build your first plane?
Our first plane took about two months to build in the back of the bicycle shop and then it was disassembled and hauled to Kitty Hawk where we bought the lun-mber for the wing spars (somewhat shorter than we wanted) and then took about two week to reassemble the aircraft (the first glider I mean) at Kitty Hawk.

[ Orville - 98 - 11:07:12 ]
RE: [NikiCristin-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] What materials did you use to build the plane?
Our airplane was built from light materials like birch wood and cloth. We also used piano wire to provide strength and rigidity

[ Orville - 101 - 11:08:28 ]
RE: [Jason-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] How old were you two when you died?
Wilbur died in 1912. I lived to be 77 years old when I died in 1948

[ Wilbur - 106 - 11:09:44 ]
RE: [Jacqueline-Mrs.Camp/LakeParkElem] Did you use the concept of the wind tunnel?
Yes, we certainly used our data from our experiments with the wind tunnel. It was the real turning point for us and for the future of aviation. Man probably would not be off the ground yet if we all depended on the wrong data that was available before our experiments with our wind tunnel gave us all new numbers of lift. We tried about 200 different shapes and types of wings in it.

[ Orville - 109 - 11:10:49 ]
RE: [Maddie-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] did you ever get hurt while testing and/or building an airplane?
I had a crash in 1908 and got banged up pretty good. Unfortunately Lt.Selfridge who was my passenger was killed.

[ Wilbur - 111 - 11:11:28 ]
RE: [JasonCoryDanJordanandAlex-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] What was your plane's name?
Actually we just called it the "Flyer" and really didn't give it a name. Many have said that we called it the "Kitty Hawk" but that is not true.

[ Orville - 112 - 11:12:11 ]
RE: [NikiandCristin-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] How did it feel to invent the best way of transportation?
I am amazed that flying is as useful today as it is.

[ Orville - 115 - 11:14:51 ]
RE: [Chelsea-Mrs.Camp/LakeParkElem] How did you know how big to make the wings?
We performed calculations from tables of data and wind tunnel data. Based on those values and what we predicted the airplane to weigh, we could calculated that we needed and equal or greater amount of lift.

[ Wilbur - 117 - 11:15:00 ]
RE: [Ling-Mrs.Camp/LakeParkElem] When did you give flying demonstrations?
I (Wilbur) gave most of the flying demonstrations in Europe, particularly in France, Italy and Germany. Most of these were in 1908 and 1909. I gave my sister Katharine (we called her "Sterchens" privately (from the German word for "little sister") her first ride in France in 1909. Orville did the demonstration flights in the United States (for example at Ft. Meyer (near Washington, D.C.) in 1908 and 1909.

[ Orville - 121 - 11:16:57 ]
RE: [MichelleTeresaJessica-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] did aristotle have any influance on the way you made your invention?
No. not really. Michelangelo and especially Da Vinci were more of an influence

[ Orville - 126 - 11:18:58 ]
RE: [PaigesBayleyKaty-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] what are your favorite hobbies
I enjoyed photography, and that's why we have a lot of pictures from the test. I also had a St. Bernard dog named Scipio

[ Wilbur - 127 - 11:19:07 ]
RE: [JasonCoryDanJordanShawnandAlex-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] what were your previous jobs??
My previous jobs included our little paper (the Midget), then Orville and I publishedd a slightly bigger paper called the West Side News and then we started selling bicycles, and then added a bicycle repair part to the shop and then we started our experiments with building a "flying machine".

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 132 - 11:21:26 ]
EVERYONE: THERE ARE 10 MINUTES LEFT IN OUR CHAT WITH ORVILLE & WILBUR. Please be sure to let the Quest Team know how we're doing with our chats and fill out the short survey at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys Thanks :-)

[ MichelleTeresaJessica-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool - 138 - 11:21:59 ]
RE: [CoryDanJordanShawnandAlex-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] did you take food on the plane?
Neither Orville nor I ever had food on any of our planes. I took both hand to fly the aircraft. In fact. Women had to tie a rope around their big skirts in order to fly with us and it started a fashion trend in France and women all over Paris began walking around with their hoop skirts sort of hobbled or tied at the ankles. The fad lasted over 8 months.

[ Orville - 139 - 11:22:16 ]
RE: [Sue-Ms.Grenier/OttawaElementarySchool] Please describe wing warping.
By changing the shape of the wing the lift characteristics are changed. If, for example, the left wing is warped to provide more lift than the right wing, the airplane will roll clockwise. On modern airplanes, ailerons do this job by deflecting up or down, although some new experiments are looking at changing the shape in a manner similiar to the way we did it.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 140 - 11:23:30 ]
RE: [MichelleTeresaJessica-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] did aristotle have any inflluance on your invention?
This question was already answered. Please scroll back through the chat to find it :-)

[ Wilbur - 141 - 11:24:12 ]
RE: [NikiandCristin-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] How do you know all this information,since the real Wright brothers are dead?
Orville and I are historical experts about ourselves. We've done a great deal of reading and study about ourselves. And besides, the spirit of flying is very much alive in both of us.

[ Orville - 143 - 11:24:20 ]
RE: [Panida-Mrs.Camp/LakeParkElem] What did you learn by studying birds?
We learned that birds did not control their flight by shifting their body weight, but actually changed the shape of their wings.

[ Orville - 147 - 11:27:00 ]
RE: [Travis-Mrs.Camp/LakeParkElem] What was the hardest part of the construction of the gliders?
The hardest part of builing the gliders was eliminating the tail slide phenomena when we tried to turn the plane. We discovered that the wing warping had to be used in conjunction with the rudder to make a proper turn.

[ Wilbur - 148 - 11:27:34 ]
RE: [CoryDanJordanShawnandAlex-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] how much did you invest on your plane?
The 1903 Wright Flyer (the first successful aircraft) actually cost about $1,200 to build. Today, that same aircraft would cost well over $120,000 to duplicate. Each of the earlier gliders cost under $400.00 to $500.00 to build.

[ Orville - 152 - 11:30:44 ]
RE: [CoryDanJordanandAlexmrsgarberrox-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] where you afraid?
Not really. We made provisions for problems to minimize the risk. When I flew out over New York Harbor I strapped a canoe underneath in case I came down in the water. Proper preparation is a good replacement for reckless bravery.

[ Wilbur - 153 - 11:30:51 ]
RE: [Lucian-LucianGreen/SpaceWebYouthOnline] I am sorry. How did you get the money to fund all of this? And did the war impact greatly on your work?
Our experiments at Kitty Hawk were financed by the money we made in our bicycle shop, from some financial help from Katharine (our sister) and from the sale of some farm property in Indiana that our father sold and then helped us out a bit. Most of it, however, came from our own business (the bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio).

[ Orville - 155 - 11:31:56 ]
RE: [NikiandCristin-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] How do you know all this information,since the real Wright brothers are dead?
We kept a lot of notes, and these notes are available at the library or book stores.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 156 - 11:33:28 ]
EVERYONE: IT'S TIME TO END OUR CHAT WITH ORVILLE AND WILBUR TODAY. Thanks for all of your interesting questions! It was obvious you did your O&W homework!

[ Orville - 157 - 11:33:43 ]
RE: [PaigesBayleyKaty-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] what kind of food do you like?
I made biscuits that didn't require any milk. I also cooked meat on a gasoline fueled stove.

[ Lucian-LucianGreen/SpaceWebYouthOnline - 159 - 11:34:06 ]
I would just like to thank the Wright Bros. as well. I am just sorry I missed the start due to international date lines.

[ Wilbur - 160 - 11:35:29 ]
RE: [JDCA-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] if we wanted to read more about you, what books should we look in?
There are many book about us. Look in your school library. Orville only officially authorized one book and that one was "The Wright Brothers" by Fred Kelly. Another book is Kill Devil Hill by Harry Combs. Another is Twelve seconds to the Moon (a true story of the Wright Brothers) by Rosamond Young. I hope this short list helps.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 161 - 11:36:05 ]
RE: [Lucian-LucianGreen/SpaceWebYouthOnline] I would just like to thank the Wright Bros. as well. I am just sorry I missed the start due to international date lines.
An archive of this chat will be made available by tomorrow. You can view it from the chat page where you signed up (under "Archived Chats" and you can also find links to it from Craig Hange (Orville) and Steve Shackelford's (Wilbur) bios.

[ Orville - 162 - 11:37:23 ]
It been a pleasure taking to you. I need to get back up to the control room in the NASA Ames 40 X 80 and prepare for our test which starts next week.

[ Wilbur - 163 - 11:39:17 ]
RE: [NikiandCristin-Mrs.Storm/CentralMiddleSchool] did you start buildig planes for a living after the first one?
Yes, We started our own company, the Wright Airplane Company in Dayton Ohio and continue building aircraft until after 1912. World War 1 really did not affect our business. Wilbur died from eating bad oysters in 1912 but Orville lived until May 30, 1948 and died of a heart attack.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 164 - 11:39:52 ]
THANKS TO EVERYONE for making this such an good chat experience! Hope you will join us again next week for another chat. Check out the Quest team's chat schedule page at-- http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events And, don't forget to fill out the short chat survey at-- http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys

[ Wilbur - 165 - 11:41:18 ]
Well, good bye everyone. I have really enjoyed chatting with you all.


Footer Bar Graphic
SpacerSpace IconAerospace IconAstrobiology IconWomen of NASA IconSpacer
Footer Info