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December 17, 1999 ATO Webchat
Orville & Wilbur Wright

Inventors of the first powered airplane
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina


[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 1 - 09:18:20 ]
Hello and Welcome to the Aerospace Team Online's fourth chat with Orville & Wilbur Wright! The Wright Brothers will begin answering all of your questions today at 10 am, Pacific (1 pm, Eastern). Be sure to read up on the Brothers Wright at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/background

[ Wilbur - 3 - 09:55:00 ]
Good Morning everyone, my bicycle just got me here. Wilbur

[ Wilbur - 6 - 09:58:48 ]
Good Morning Orville, How's my favorite brother?

[ Orville - 7 - 10:05:25 ]
RE: [Wilbur] Good Morning Orville, How's my favorite brother?
Good morning, Wilbur. I'm doing fine. We just won't tell Lorin that I'm your favorite brother.

[ Wilbur - 11 - 10:12:44 ]
RE: [Susan] I am thrilled to be talking to such famous aviators. I aman aviator too, in my own small way. I was wondering why you put the motor on the back of the WrightFlyer?
Good Morning Susan. This is Wilbur. We didn't put the motor on the back of the aircraft, only the propellers. The engine was located in the middle of the aircraft near the center of lift or the center of gravity, to balance the aircraft. The propellers were put there as pusher props (in the back) to push rather than to pull as in propellers that are in the front (tractor propellers. We thought that was the best design.

[ Orville - 12 - 10:12:54 ]
RE: [MichelleMock/CoronaCA] Hello Orville and Wilbur! I am so happy to see you chatting with students again! In all your time travels, I was wondering if you have ever seen a Gee Bee Racer? I found a webpage on this plane at http://www.GeeBee.com. What do you think about that design?
Yes, I am aware of this racer. One of its most famous pilots was Jimmy Doolittle would led the first raid against Japan in World War 2. It was a fast plane in its day, but it was very hard for the pilot to see over the nose, since it had such a big engine.

[ Orville - 14 - 10:14:22 ]
RE: [karmen-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] What was the first thing you noticed when you were up in the air
I noticed that I was flying and that I had to control all airplane in all 3 dimensions.

[ Wilbur - 15 - 10:15:19 ]
RE: [karmen-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] What was the first thing you noticed when you were up in the air
Good Morning Karmen, this is Wilbur Wright. The first thing I noticed when I was up in the air was not the ground so much as the position of the control surfaces, particularly the 12 foot wide canard or elevator directly in front of me. It is hard to control. By the way, did you know that my brother Orville was afraid of heights when he was a boy?

[ Orville - 16 - 10:15:21 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] Hi, my name is Chris how are you.
Hi Chris. It's a pleasure to meet you.

[ Wilbur - 18 - 10:16:32 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] Hi, my name is Chris how are you.
Good morning Chris, This is Wilbur Wright. I'm fine. How are you? Did you have a question for me this morning?

[ Orville - 19 - 10:16:56 ]
RE: [Wilbur] Good Morning Karmen, this is Wilbur Wright. The first thing I noticed when I was up in the air was not the ground so much as the position of the control surfaces, particularly the 12 foot wide canard or elevator directly in front of me. It is hard to control. By the way, did you know that my brother Orville was afraid of heights when he was a boy?
Don't worry Karmen, I got over it once I became an adult. I eventually flew higher than Wilbur too.

[ Wilbur - 23 - 10:18:57 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] Did the you have to get permission from the government to make the first aircraft.
Chris, the government didn't know that we were building an aircraft and even when we tried to tell them about it they didn't believe that any such thing could be invented. It took several tries just to convince them that we had actually done it.

[ Orville - 24 - 10:19:12 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] Did the you have to get permission from the government to make the first aircraft.
At the time the government didn't have any sort of department we could report to. Flying in those days was just a hobby or sport, and the government didn't see a need to be involved until a few years later.

[ Orville - 26 - 10:20:14 ]
RE: [megan-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] Hello, I am in eigth grade and I go to Millennium Middle School. I have logged on to ask you a few questions.
Hello Megan.

[ Wilbur - 30 - 10:21:30 ]
RE: [karmen-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] I'm sorry I didn't say hi. I wanted to ask a few questions the first one is, How long did it take you to build the plane before you could fly it?
Karmen, We started in 1899 with a big glider and then in 1900 built another bigger glider and then another in 1901 and later another even bigger and better one in 1902. Finally, we knew we would be successful at the end of the flying season in 1902 and we were eager to try again in 1903. Finally in 1903 we were successful and had four successful flights on this day, 96 years ago.

[ Orville - 31 - 10:22:23 ]
RE: [karmen-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] I'm sorry I didn't say hi. I wanted to ask a few questions the first one is, How long did it take you to build the plane before you could fly it?
We started working on the idea for flying in 1899. So, we worked for 4 years before our first powered flight in 1903.

[ Orville - 36 - 10:23:37 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] When was the second aircraft made? I would like to know.
We built another plane in 1904, but finally had real success with our1905 Flyer.

[ Wilbur - 37 - 10:24:01 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] When was the second aircraft made? I would like to know.
Chris, the second aircraft made was the one Orville and I were experimenting with at Huffman Prairie (a cow pasture dust outside Dayton, Ohio, now known as Wright Patterson Air force Base) and very few people actually saw it. Most of that flying with that aircraft was done in 1905 when we actually made a full circle with it for the first time.

[ Wilbur - 43 - 10:26:41 ]
RE: [mikira-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] Hi my name is Mikira. I'm from Millennium Middle.I would like to ask you a few questions. The first question is if the invention of the airplane didn't work what other invention would you have tried to make?
Mikira, a very good question. Actually I wanted to move into making automobiles rather than just bicycles, but Orville once said to me as we were standing in the door of the bicycle shop and watching an early automobile go by, "Naw, it will never amount to anything." So we stuck with making and selling bicycles until we started our flying experiments.

[ Orville - 44 - 10:27:12 ]
RE: [mikira-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] Hi my name is Mikira. I'm from Millennium Middle.I would like to ask you a few questions. The first question is if the invention of the airplane didn't work what other invention would you have tried to make?
Well Mikira, we probably would have kept working until we could fly. I also worked on other inventions though, so I would have done something to keep busy.

[ Wilbur - 48 - 10:28:45 ]
RE: [Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA] If you could fly any plane that has ever been built, which ones would you most like to fly? Why?
Michelle, if I could fly any airplane I wanted it would be the the Bell X-1, which broke the speed of sound (Mach 1) in October, 1947. I lived to see that actually happen. But it would be fun to fly the space shuttle too, don't you think?

[ karmen-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool - 50 - 10:29:03 ]
I wanted to say thankyou very much for taking your time to answer are many curious questions

[ Orville - 51 - 10:29:36 ]
RE: [mikira-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] Jessica would like to know,How much did it cost you to build the plane?
Wilbur, you kept the books, do you remember how much we paid to fly?

[ Wilbur - 52 - 10:29:57 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] How much did it cost to build the plane? Jessica Heredla
Chris, the cost of the first successful airplane was about $1,700. Orville may have a little different total on it but this is pretty close.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 54 - 10:30:50 ]
RE: [karmen-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] I wanted to say thankyou very much for taking your time to answer are many curious questions
Karmen: And I'd like to say THANK YOU for asking such good questions! Are you leaving now? If so, please fill out a short surveyfor the Quest team on how you like today's chat. It can be found at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys

[ Orville - 55 - 10:30:58 ]
RE: [Wilbur] Michelle, if I could fly any airplane I wanted it would be the the Bell X-1, which broke the speed of sound (Mach 1) in October, 1947. I lived to see that actually happen. But it would be fun to fly the space shuttle too, don't you think?
Sorry, my dear brother, I lived to see the X-1 fly. You passed away in 1913. Don't you remember?

[ Wilbur - 57 - 10:32:27 ]
RE: [karmen-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] when you did decided to fly did any weather ever effect your first plans?
Karmen, the weather was a really BIG factor in our flying decisions. On the day of the successful flight we had a wind of nearly 35 knots and a temperature just below freezing. Finally about 10:30 am (Kitty Hawk time) the wind calmed to about 25 to 28 knots and we decided to go. We took off into the wind so that the extra wind over the wing gave us some extra lift that we really needed with that aircaft.

[ Orville - 58 - 10:32:45 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] Can you please anwser this question. Did anyone help you build the plane? Krstal Brooks
We got a lot of inspiration from Octave Chanute. We also learned a lot from Otto Lilienthal's work with gliders. Unfortunately, he died in a crash in 1897, so we never got to meet him.

[ Wilbur - 61 - 10:34:06 ]
Your'r right, Orv, I died in 1912, and Orville saw the first aircraft to break the speed of sound, not me. Oh well. You're right again Orv.

[ Orville - 63 - 10:34:51 ]
RE: [Susan-tilley] Did you make any money from your invention?
We finally sold the the 1908 Flyer to the US Army for $30,000. The Wright Airplane Company was formed, and I became a millionaire.

[ Wilbur - 69 - 10:36:28 ]
RE: [mikira-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] What did your parents' think about this?
Mikira, another good question. Our mother had already died about 10 years (1889) before we really started our experiments in 1899. Our father, Bishop Milton Wright and our sister Katharine were always very supportive and were always encouraging us to explore and be creative.

[ Orville - 73 - 10:37:29 ]
RE: [mikira-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] What did your parents' think about this?
A lot of people think my father was old fashioned and conservative because he was a bishop in the church. However, he always encouraged us, and his attitude can be summed up by what he said when I took him flying, "Higher, Orville, higher!"

[ Orville - 76 - 10:38:36 ]
RE: [megan-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] how much horsepower did the motor have?
The motor initially created 17 HP when started, but would drop off to 12 or 13 when it got hot.

[ Orville - 79 - 10:40:23 ]
RE: [Ryan-Mrs.Reeves/BrightElementary] What was the best improvement of your airplane by someone else?
Well Ryan, the aileron was invented to get around the patent Wilbur and I had for wing warping. And, even though it cost us money, it actually was a pretty good idea.

[ Wilbur - 80 - 10:40:42 ]
RE: [karmen-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] When you first thought of the control system on the plane, what gave you the idea?
Karmen, One day I was standing in the bicycle shop talking to a customer and just sort of twisting a bicycle inner tube box and I looked down and saw the twisted shape of it and noticed when one side went up the other side went down as the box was flexed from side to side and it gave me the idea for controlling the shape of our airplane's wings to control our flights. It worked and today we call those surfaces on modern day aircraft ailerons.

[ Orville - 81 - 10:41:48 ]
RE: [karmen-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] When you first thought of the control system on the plane, what gave you the idea?
We realized that the airplane would be too large to use weight shifting to control it. (Like a hang glider). We knew we would have to have full aerodynamic control for it to work.

[ Orville - 83 - 10:42:47 ]
RE: [mikira-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] how did you feel when your brother died wilbur?
I was very sad. Even though we were different ages, we had been almost like twins.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 84 - 10:43:30 ]
EVERYONE: This is a GREAT chat so far! You're asking wonderful questions! It's obvious you did your homework before coming to the chat today... Thank you!

[ Wilbur - 86 - 10:44:12 ]
RE: [Jennie-Mrs.Reeves/BrightElementary] What led you to think that flight by people was possible?
Jennie, Both Orville and I read magazine accounts of a German man named Lillienthal and an English man named Pilcher. Lillienthal's gliding experiments really excited us. Another man named Octave Chanute also gave us some advise and a lot of encouragement to keep going in our experiments.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 87 - 10:44:16 ]
EVERYONE: There are 15 minutes left with Orville & Wilbur...

[ Orville - 88 - 10:45:22 ]
RE: [Susan-tilley] What kind of education did you have and how old were you when the Flyer first flew?
We actually didn't finish high school. However, our mother was a college professor, so she helped us, and our father taught us the discipline to learn. And if you want to work with airplanes today, a high school education is a must. (College or trade school after high school isn't a bad idea either)

[ Orville - 90 - 10:46:35 ]
RE: [Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA] Did you do anything special to prevent other people from taking your ideas and copying your invention?
We applied for a patent for our control systems. We had to guard those especially close.

[ Wilbur - 91 - 10:47:58 ]
RE: [Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA] Did you do anything special to prevent other people from taking your ideas and copying your invention?
Michelle, we filed for a patent on our invention to protect our ideas. It is important to know that we didn't just patent that one particular airplane design but the entire control system as well. Our "wing warping" mechanism led to todays ailerons on modern aircraft. Many people tried to copy and steal our ideas. That's why, for example that our 1909 "Flyer" was painted all silver, to keep people from taking really good detailed pictures of it. The silver paint made the airplane sort of disappear in 1909 photography, making our 1909 "Flyer" the first attempt at building a "Stealth" aircraft. Ha Ha.

[ Orville - 92 - 10:48:16 ]
RE: [Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA] Of all the planes you can think of ... which do you think would have been the most difficult to fly?
I suspect history would say our 1903 Flyer was the hardest to fly, although a friend of mine at NASA says that the Russian MIG-25 was also a handful.

[ Orville - 94 - 10:50:13 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] The first airplane how high did it fly.
Chris, I didn't get more than a few feet off the ground on that first flight. I went a total of 120 feet down the hill.

[ Wilbur - 95 - 10:50:15 ]
RE: [Joy-Mrs.Reeves/BrightElementary] Who was Octave Chanute? Was he a teacher or an inventor or a scientist? Was he an American?
Joy, Octave Chanute was an american enginer who excelled at building bridges and structures. Today we would call him a structural engineer. He also designed the stockyards at Kansas City, Missouri and numerous railroad bridges in the eastern half of the United States. In his later life he liked to experiment in aeronautics. He was a big encouragement to us both.

[ Orville - 96 - 10:51:44 ]
RE: [Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA] Did you ever think your invention would become such a popular mode of transportation? Did you think of flying as transportation or more just to see if it could be done?
We saw that it would be useful for scouting for the Army. We really didn't think it would become so important as it is today.

[ Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA - 97 - 10:52:58 ]
It is always interesting and fun to chat with you! I hope you both come back again soon. It must be fun to travel through time and talk about your inventions! Thank you!

[ Wilbur - 98 - 10:53:11 ]
RE: [Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA] Do you expect that the replica of your plane will fly on the 100th anniversary of your first flight? Are you providing any ideas to the people who are building the flying replica? Did you get to see the replica tested in the wind tunnel at NASA Ames? If so, what did you think?
Michelle, the 1903 Wright Flyer replica that we are building now will fly on December 17th, 2003. Keep in mind Michelle that since 1903 we have put 12 men on the moon and successfully brought them home. In that same time, only two men have successfully flown a 1903 Wright Flyer, and that is Orville and myself. Our newest replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer will fly at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 2003. Come see us fly. Okay.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 99 - 10:53:45 ]
RE: [Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA] It is always interesting and fun to chat with you! I hope you both come back again soon. It must be fun to travel through time and talk about your inventions! Thank you!
Good bye Michelle! So glad you were able to drop in today! Your questions were great! Happy Holidays!

[ Orville - 100 - 10:54:11 ]
RE: [chris-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] What made you want to study engineering? Brittany Mandy
Brittany, we studied engineering to understand how things work. That was a great curiousity for us.

[ Wilbur - 101 - 10:54:35 ]
RE: [Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA] It is always interesting and fun to chat with you! I hope you both come back again soon. It must be fun to travel through time and talk about your inventions! Thank you!
Michelle, it was fun coming back through time to talk to you too. Thanks. Wilbur Wright

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 102 - 10:55:18 ]
EVERYONE: TWO REMINDERS... #1 There are only 5 minutes left in today's chat. So when it's over, please let us know how you like traveling back in time with the Wright Brothers by filling out a short survey at-- http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys Thank you :-)

[ Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA - 104 - 10:56:01 ]
That is going to be awesome to see you fly again! Wow! I will mark my calendar! Have a wonderful holiday season!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 105 - 10:56:39 ]
EVERYONE: MESSAGE #2... Most of Quest's events will end this week and continue after the holidays, in early January. Be sure to check out our Schedule of Events at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events

[ Wilbur - 106 - 10:56:44 ]
Say Orville, nobody asked who your favorite brother was?

[ Orville - 107 - 10:56:51 ]
RE: [Ryan-Mrs.Reeves/BrightElementary] Did you name any of your aircraft after yourselves?
Actually, Ryan, we tended to name our airplanes by the year they were built

[ Orville - 108 - 10:57:50 ]
RE: [Wilbur] Say Orville, nobody asked who your favorite brother was?
I think it would set historians back 100 years if I said it was Lorin.

[ Wilbur - 109 - 10:58:33 ]
RE: [Orville] Actually, Ryan, we tended to name our airplanes by the year they were built
That's right Ryan, although we named some of our bicycle designs after family names, like the Van Cleve, for example, we never did name our airplanes after any people.

[ MrsShaw-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool - 110 - 10:59:07 ]
I just wanted to thank you very much for chatting with us I am sorry that our server went down.....and we didnt get to finish chatting But the students seemed to have truly enjoyed it...<almost as much as myself> thanks again

[ Orville - 111 - 10:59:25 ]
RE: [Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA] That is going to be awesome to see you fly again! Wow! I will mark my calendar! Have a wonderful holiday season!
Thank you Michelle. We're looking forward to it too. Happy Holidays!

[ Mikira-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool - 112 - 10:59:55 ]
Thank you for answering our questions! I'm sorry that we became disconnected. Thank you once again!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 113 - 11:00:05 ]
RE: [MrsShaw-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] I just wanted to thank you very much for chatting with us I am sorry that our server went down.....and we didnt get to finish chatting But the students seemed to have truly enjoyed it...<almost as much as myself> thanks again
Thank YOU Mrs. Shaw for bringing your students today! We enjoyed having you and hope you'll come back in the New Year!

[ Orville - 114 - 11:00:57 ]
RE: [Gabriela-Mrs.Reeves/BrightElementary] What advice can you give people who have ideas that they think might work?
Well Gabriela, keep trying and have patience.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 115 - 11:01:09 ]
GOODBYE EVERYONE; We've come to the end of our chat session today. Thank you very much for your terrific questions :-) have a wonderful holiday season and all the best for you in the New Year! Cheers :-)

[ Orville - 116 - 11:01:51 ]
RE: [MrsShaw-Mrs.Shaw/MillenniumMiddleSchool] I just wanted to thank you very much for chatting with us I am sorry that our server went down.....and we didnt get to finish chatting But the students seemed to have truly enjoyed it...<almost as much as myself> thanks again
Thank you Mrs. Shaw. It was a pleasure.

[ Wilbur - 117 - 11:01:56 ]
RE: [Gabriela-Mrs.Reeves/BrightElementary] What advice can you give people who have ideas that they think might work?
Gabriela, My advice is to keep on trying and to never give up. We never did and it really paid off. If you think you have a really good idea, Go For It. Wilbur Wright.

[ Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA - 118 - 11:02:31 ]
To Mrs. Shaw and Class, its very disappointing when the hardware goes down during a chat. You all asked great questions!

[ Michelle-MichelleMock/CoronaCA - 120 - 11:03:44 ]
This was a fun chat! Thank you Orville and Wilbur. Thank you Sandy. And thank you to all the students with the great questions!

[ Orville - 123 - 11:12:36 ]
RE: [Wilbur] Did Orville get my thanks for correcting my answer to the breaking the sound barrier answer?
You are welcome my dear brother.

 
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