The Wright Flyers 1899–1916

The Wright Flyers 1899–1916

The kites, gliders, and aircraft that launched the “Air Age”

X-Planes 13
  • Author: Richard P. Hallion
  • Illustrator: Adam Tooby
  • Short code: XPL 13
  • Publication Date: 26 Dec 2019
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About this Product

Orville and Wilbur Wright, two bicycle-making brothers from Dayton, Ohio, secured their place as the most famous names in aviation history when, on December 17, 1903, they made the first powered, controlled, and sustained heavier-than-air flight. But their success over the cold and windswept Carolina dunes that day has overshadowed their many other accomplishments before and after that historic flight. The Wrights' progression from theory to analysis to ground-testing components and wing shapes, and then to flight-testing kites, gliders, and their first powered aeroplane, marked the world's first successful ‘X-Plane' research and development programme. They established a template all subsequent aircraft have followed, one still relevant in the era of hypersonic flight and drone research.
This book traces the Wright Brothers' story, from their first success on that cold December day throughout their glory years to their eventual eclipse by other aviators. It explores in detail the process that lead them to their pioneering craft and their many subsequent achievements over the following years, and highlights their enduring importance in the age of modern flight.

Biographical Note

Richard P. Hallion holds a PhD in history from the University of Maryland, and has completed specialized governmental and national security programmes at the Federal Executive Institute and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has held many high-profile posts, including as a Curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum; as the Charles Lindbergh Professor at the National Air and Space Museum; and as The Air Force Historian. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Royal Historical Society, and an Honorary Member of the Order of Daedalians who has flown as a mission observer in a wide range of military aircraft. He is based in Shalimar, Florida.


1899-1902: From kites to gliders and wind tunnel research
1903: The Kitty Hawk Flyer
1904-1907: Design refinement and the 1904, 1905, and 1907 machines
1908-1909: Demonstrations in America and Europe & the Wright Military Flyer
1910-1914: The later Wright Model B, EX, and others
1915-1916: End of the Wright era
Conclusion and Assessment

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