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December 10, 1998
QuestChat with Orville & Wilbur Wright

Inventors of the first powered airplane
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 62 - 09:28:53 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] COPE MSA is happy to be logging on for this very exciting opportunity to chat!
Welcome Deb and all of Mrs. Regal's class! We're very happy that you could join us again today. Where are you loggin in from?

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 63 - 09:29:50 ]
RE: [MrsMock-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Montessori School of Corona 3rd and 4th grade students are really excited about this chat!
Hello Mrs. Mock and the Montessori School of Corona! Glad you could make it to chat with us again :-) We'll begin very shortly...

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 66 - 09:32:11 ]
RE: [Michael-mMr.Holst/WFWestHS] Hi Sandy, Is this chat video...or just this main room? If video, I need the url....I am blind to its listing. thanks We are in Chehalis, Washington.
Hello Michael! This is the main chat room. There is no chat video connected with this. You are in the right place. We will begin in just one minute! Glad you could make it!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 67 - 09:33:07 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Ypsianti, Michigan near Ann Arbor is home to the COPE MSA program.
Ok, thanks! It's always good to know where people are coming from who participate in our chats!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 68 - 09:34:32 ]
Hello Everyone! So very glad you could join us in our first QuestChat with Orville & Wilbur Wright. Today's chat is meant to be an early celebration of the 95th anniversary of Orville & Wilbur's first flight on December 17, 1903!

[ Orville_Wright - 71 - 09:36:09 ]
RE: [Sandy/NASAChatHost] Welcome Orville & Wilbur!
Thank you. It's good to be here.

[ wilburWright - 72 - 09:36:41 ]
Hello everyone, My name is Wilbur Wright. I am excited to chat with everyone here. This will be fun.

[ wilburWright - 73 - 09:39:10 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Glad to meet you. Can you tell me how and why you decided to make a wind tunnel?
Orville and I did construct a little wind tunnel in Dayton in the back of the bicycle shop. We built it to check the aviation data from Otto Lillienthal, and to help us build a better airfoil for our aircraft. Unfortunately, we destroyed it some time later. Only a replica exists today.

[ Orville_Wright - 75 - 09:40:19 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Glad to meet you. Can you tell me how and why you decided to make a wind tunnel?
We discovered during our gliding flights in 1902 that our glider was not generating as much lift as it theoretically should. My brother and I surmised that we could test new wing shapes if we made small scale models of them and "flew" them. We first tested them on a bicycle, but that became too hard to maintain a consistent test, so we built a wind tunnel in our workshop, and tested them there

[ Orville_Wright - 81 - 09:43:08 ]
RE: [Owen-mMr.Holst/WFWestHS] Why did you destroy the wind tunnel? Did you create a newer version later?
We needed the space for our bicycle business

[ wilburWright - 83 - 09:44:39 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] When you flew the first kite, what was the "Big Ah-ha" that said "I could be up there!"
Well, actually the bih Ah-ha came a bit earlier when we read about Lillienthal and also when Orville and I watched the buzzards flying over the "Pinnacles" south of Dayton. The 1899 kite was also a big Ah-ha for both of us.

[ Orville_Wright - 84 - 09:45:48 ]
RE: [Nick-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Out of all the places with wind and sand, why did you select Kitty Hawk, North Carolina?
My brother contacted the National Weather Bureau in Washington DC and found the place with strong and regular breezes. It also had soft, sandy, open terrain for landing on

[ wilburWright - 85 - 09:46:34 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] With Chicago known as "The windy city," why did you choose Kitty Hawk at the test grounds?
Orville and I chose Kitty Hawk because the weather reports we received showed a constant breeze and lots of SMOOTH sand to land (not crash) onto. There is not a lot of readily available sand at Chicago.

[ Orville_Wright - 88 - 09:49:07 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] I was wondering how infuencial you sister Katheren was to your Flying?
Katheren was a great source of inspiration for us. She encouraged us, helped us, and took care of running the family, especially when we were at Kitty Hawk. I dare say, that without her support, we could not have gone to North Carolina.

[ wilburWright - 92 - 09:49:31 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] I was wondering how infuencial you sister Katheren was to your Flying?
Katherine was very helpful to us both. She and Lorin ran the bicycle shop while Orv and I were in Kitty Hawk. Did you know that Katherine and Orville have the same birthday, only three years apart? We are all very close and very supportive to each other.

[ wilburWright - 93 - 09:52:28 ]
RE: [Katie3grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Where were you born? How old are you now? How many classes did it take to fly a plane? How many planes have you flown since your flyer?
I was born in 1867 (two years after the end of the Civil War) in Henry County, Indiana. Our flying lessons consisted of practicing with the gliders we built in 1900, 1901 and 1902. Altogether we had over a thousand glides before we tried to fly the powered "Flyer" in 1903.

[ wilburWright - 95 - 09:54:46 ]
RE: [Jimmy-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] How many flights would you consider to be truly successful?
We had four successful flights that historic day. Actually I would have been satisfied (but not very gratified with only one successful flight that day. After the 4th flight the wind caught the "Flyer" and turned it over and over and wrecked it. That airplane never flew again. But we were very happy.

[ Orville_Wright - 96 - 09:55:31 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] How did your relationship end with Mr. Chaneute?
Mr. Chanute was of great help to us when we started out. He gave us great technical guidance. However, in later years he did not appreciate the need to maintain secrecy for the sake of gaining a competitive business advantage. It was not appropriate for him to want to tell the world about inventions and improvements we made to the airplane, so that someone else could use our work, build an airplane, and take business from us. I can appreciate Mr. Chanute's desire to inform the world, but he needs to appreciate the reality of doing business.

[ wilburWright - 98 - 09:57:30 ]
RE: [Squirrel-mMr.Holst/WFWestHS] Who is Otto Lillienthal? What did he do?
Otto Lillienthal was a pioneer in aeronautics. He built what today you would call a sort of hang glider and conducted gliding experiments from a hill he had built in his back yard near his home in Germany. Unfortunately, he died as a result of his experiments when his craft stalled and he broke his neck. Orville and I were very sad to hear this as we were following his experiments.

[ wilburWright - 100 - 09:59:50 ]
RE: [Owen-mMr.Holst/WFWestHS] What kind(s) of metal(s) did you use in the bicycles that you built?
We used steel and brass for some of the parts. You are no doubt referring to the three that Orville and I built, the "Van Cleve, theSt. Clair and the Wright Special."

[ Orville_Wright - 102 - 10:00:48 ]
RE: [Squirrel-mMr.Holst/WFWestHS] Who is Otto Lillienthal? What did he do?
Mr. Lilienthal was a German inventor who flew gliders around 1891 - 1896. His work really inspired us to pursue our own aircraft. We also learned a lot from his work. His unfortunate death in 1896 was very disturbing to my brother and me, and we made a lot of changes in our designs so that we would not meet such an unfortunate tragedy ourselves.

[ wilburWright - 104 - 10:02:20 ]
RE: [Owen-mMr.Holst/WFWestHS] What kind of engine did you use to power the "Flyer"? How would it compare to a Geo Metro?
The engine was built primarily by our bicycle mechanic Charley Taylor. It only produced about 12 horsepower when first started and as the engine got hotter it was only producing about 10 horsepower. A Geo Metro engine is many times more powerful than the one we had to use. Do you know why the power dropped off as our engine got hotter?

[ wilburWright - 108 - 10:05:50 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] After the sucesses of 1903, and in-leu of building your own engines, did any other engine manufactures offer to build an enging for you?
Yes, several engine manufacturers eventually offered to build an engine. However, we couldn't find any American made engines that would produce enough power and meet our requirements for the 1903 "Flyer", so that is why we had our own employee, Charley Taylor, build the engine for us to our specifications.

[ Orville_Wright - 111 - 10:08:39 ]
RE: [Sandra-SandraBullock/WrightFlyerProject] Did any of the experience you gained from the bicycle business help you with designing and flying the airplane?
Our bicycle business was very helpful to our flying. Besides providing us with the money to support our experiments, it also provided us with a source of materials, and a workshop. The chain used to drive our propellers was provided by the same company that made chains for our bicycles. We also used a lot of our understanding of bicycle riding to our flying. Some experts have said that the reason we tolerated the inherent instability in our airplanes is because bicycles are inherently unstable. I'm not sure Wilbur or I were thinking that at the time, but it makes some sense.

[ wilburWright - 112 - 10:08:49 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] I understand that your Mother showed you how to work with tool. Did Mom ever get to see you fly?
Mom taught Orville and me to work with tools when we were little. In fact, she came from a long line of coach builders in Germany and handed down the skills she learned to us. She is the one to teach us how to work with tools, not our father. Mom died of tuberculosis (they called it consumption) in 1889, ten years before we built our first kite in 1899.

[ Owen-mMr.Holst/WFWestHS - 116 - 10:09:35 ]
We believe that the heat expanded the cylinders and reduced the compression available, but we're not sure. Why did horsepower drop off as the engine got hotter?

[ wilburWright - 118 - 10:11:08 ]
RE: [Jimmy-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] I think the power dropped off as your engine got hotter--because of friction?
Well, that's a very good guess and partly true. Also, a major reason was because of something called density of the air. As the engine got hotter, so did the air in the engine and hotter (and thinner) air does not have the "punch" or power that colder denser air has. Anyway, the engine heated up and locked up and quit running after about a minute, almost every time.

[ Orville_Wright - 119 - 10:13:53 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Why did you make most of your gliders with same basic design?
We made our gliders with the same basic design because it worked. By starting with a good design, we could then make gradual improvements to it so that it would fly better, and understand what the change does. Many of our contemporaries made drastic changes to their designs without any rhyme or reason. I believe this is why we suceeded.

[ wilburWright - 120 - 10:13:56 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What kind of braking devices did you use on your bicycles?
We used hand operated caliper brakes on the bicycles. At slow speeds we put our feet on the ground. That was fun.

[ Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE - 124 - 10:16:35 ]
What different kinds of launching devices did you use?

[ wilburWright - 125 - 10:16:37 ]
RE: [TheUrge-MrCampbell/Heritage] What kind of music do you guys listen to?
Well, we didn't listen to a lot of music. There was no such thing as radio and a phonograph also had not been invented yet, and so we listened to a lot of bands in the park in Dayton play marches and romantic little songs.

[ Squirrel-mMr.Holst/WFWestHS - 126 - 10:16:49 ]
Orville and Wilbur Wright-- thank you for your time and answers to our questions. We look forward to seeing your "Flyer" tomorrow. The class bell has rung and we must go. sincerely, Mr. Holst, Owen, Squirrel, and class

[ Orville_Wright - 128 - 10:18:01 ]
RE: [Luke/TheHeritageSchoolNewnanGA-MrCampbell/Heritage] Did you understand all of the equations that defined lift and drag, etc. on the plane, or did you go by instinct and premonitions?
Yes, we used the equations for lift and drag, and all of the aerodynamic forces. We tabulated our data during our wind tunnel test, and needed those equations to apply to our glider. We also used the equations to determine that Smeaton's coefficient was in error.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 130 - 10:19:25 ]

[ wilburWright - 132 - 10:19:37 ]
RE: [Blake-MrCampbell/Heritage] On your "Flyer" there were two sets of wings. The large wings similar to modern planes, but also a smaller set at the front of the plane. What purpose did the latter serve on the plane?
The smaller wings that you are talking about were called "canards" (French for the word duck or joke") and they served at the elevators for our aircraft. These "smaller" wings were themselves 12 feet across compared to the 40 feet 1 inch that the whole airplane was. The elevator "canards" helped to control our up and down motion.

[ wilburWright - 137 - 10:22:22 ]
RE: [TheUrge-MrCampbell/Heritage] What do you plan to do with the information that you obtain from the comming experiment? Will it be useful for future aviation related endeavors?
the coming wind tunnel tests will not only help the present day world understand what Orville and I already intuitively knew but to broaden our understanding of the function of "canards" on modern day aircraft. They can be very tricky on our 1903 aircraft and frankly, almost never behaved in exactly the same way from flight to flight. That was the toughest part about controlling the aircraft.

[ Orville_Wright - 138 - 10:22:26 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] What was it like growing up as Preacher's Kids?
Our father was a wonderful man. He taught us discipline, and how to think. He provided us with a very nice home, and he encouraged us in our experiments. I even took him flying in 1910. He kept saying "Higher, Orville, Higher!" I took him up to 350 feet.

[ wilburWright - 140 - 10:24:37 ]
RE: [Jimmy-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Where did you obtain the parts you used in the flier?
Jimmy, the parts for the 1903 "Flyer" were obtained locally in the Dayton area and the components were sort of pre-built there. Then we hauled all the parts down to Kitty Hawk and assembled them there and finally flew it there.

[ wilburWright - 144 - 10:27:18 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] Did Orval get to see the Flyer come back to the Smithsonian Institute?
Unfortunately, Orville died on January 30, 1948 (of a heart attack) and the "Flyer did not return to the United States from England until much later that year. It was shown to the public for the first time in the Smithsonian on December 17, 1948, well after Orville's death. Kind of sad that he didn't live to see its return.

[ MrCampbell-MrCampbell/Heritage - 145 - 10:27:27 ]
With only a few minutes left in the chat, the Heritage Physics class would like to thank you both for your time!!

[ COPEMSA-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE - 146 - 10:27:36 ]
Thank you very much for your time. This has been fun.

[ Orville_Wright - 147 - 10:28:29 ]
RE: [Nick-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] When did you quit you bicycle business?
I moved from the bicycle shop in 1916 when I opened a new laboratory. In 1936 I sold the shop to Henry Ford, who moved it to Dearborn, Michigan. Not too far from Ypsilanti if I'm not mistaken. He wanted it for his museum.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 148 - 10:28:49 ]
EVERYONE: Please take time after this chat is over to let us know what you thought of it. You can fill out a short survey form at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. Thank you! The Quest Team really appreciates your participation :-)

[ wilburWright - 150 - 10:28:52 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] Wilbur, did you feel any anomosity when Orve' flew first?
Well, yes, a little, but he was my brother and he won the coin toss fair and square. But, I got to go the Europe to demonstrate the aircraft and besides, we are pretty close as brothers (in fact as a whole family).

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 152 - 10:30:06 ]
OK, THE TIME HAS COME TO END THIS CHAT, as Orville & Wilbur must get back to their present-day jobs... They will now reveal their true identities...

[ Orville_Wright - 155 - 10:31:15 ]
RE: [Nick-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Are you wealthy as a result of your invention?
Yes, I retired in 1915 after selling our airplane business, very wealthy.

[ wilburWright - 156 - 10:31:33 ]
Hello everyone again. I've had a lot of fun today playing the role of Wilbur Wright. My real name is Steve Shackelford.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 157 - 10:31:35 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] On behalf of the FAA and Hawthorne Flight Service Station, We thank you both.
Michael, thanks so much for joining us today. Hope you can chat with us again soon!

[ Orville_Wright - 158 - 10:33:07 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] Orval, this is for you. After America was flying and you no longer had the airplane company, why didn't you get married?
I guess I was too busy with aviation to have time to get married. I consulted for a lot of aviation companies all the way up through World War 2

[ wilburWright - 159 - 10:33:23 ]
Goodbye everyone, I hope to chat with you all again another time. This has been fun.

[ Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA - 160 - 10:33:36 ]
I knew it was you Steve. Great Job!!

[ Orville_Wright - 161 - 10:34:35 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What different kinds of launching devices did you use?
We used a rail for the 1903 Glider to roll across the sand. We did not use our catapult until our flights in 1905

[ Sandra-SandraBullock/WrightFlyerProject - 162 - 10:34:59 ]
Thanks, Steve, I knew it was you, too!

[ Orville_Wright - 163 - 10:38:06 ]
I'm really Craig Hange, and I'm the NASA Ames Researcher assigned to the Wright Flyer test. I've chatted with some of you before. It's been fun pretending to be Orville. Your questions were really good, and you caused me to use my Wright Brothers books a lot.

[ Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA - 165 - 10:40:09 ]
Thank you, Craig, Great Job

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 166 - 10:40:18 ]
Good bye everyone! Thanks again for participating in this "historic" event! Be sure to check the schedule for the next chat! "See you" soon!

[ Orville_Wright - 167 - 10:44:08 ]
RE: [TheUrge-MrCampbell/Heritage] which one of you came up with the idea to build the plane, and then which one of you had the most influence on the design?
My brother came up with the inspiration in 1896 after reading about Lilienthal. I had typhoid at the time, but as soon as I recovered, we started researching flight.

[ Orville_Wright - 168 - 10:47:24 ]
RE: [Nick-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Did you ever decide to use wheels for landing gear?
After 1908 we built our airplanes so that the pilot could flying while seated upright, and wheels were included for landing on ground harder than sand.

[ Orville_Wright - 169 - 10:51:00 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] Why was the wing longer on one side?
The wing was longer on one side to balance the weight of the engine verses the weight of the pilot.

[ Orville_Wright - 170 - 10:53:29 ]
RE: [Blake-MrCampbell/Heritage] What was the worst accident you suffered as you were flying or building you "Flyer"
The worst accident was in 1908. While demonstrating our airplane to the Army Signal Corps I crashed and my passenger, Lietenant Selfridge was killed.

[ Orville_Wright - 172 - 10:56:36 ]
RE: [Michael-DaddyFixit/FAA] Thanks Orve' I didn't think you were still on-line
Good talking to you Michael. I'm going to go now.


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