Orville Loren Wright

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Orville Loren Wright

Birthplace: Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United States
Death: January 30, 1948 (76)
Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United States
Place of Burial: Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Bishop Milton Wright and Susan Catherine Wright
Husband of Hattie McLaren
Brother of Reuchlin Wright; Lorin Wright; Wilbur Wright; Otis Wright, ♊; Ida Wright, ♊ and 1 other

Occupation: INVENTED FIRST AIRPLANE, DEC 1903, KITTY HAWK, N.C., American Inventor, Aviator, Inventor
Biography: https://www.biography.com/inventor/orville-wright
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Orville Loren Wright


The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two Americans who are generally credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903. In the two years afterward, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

The brothers' fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became standard and remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on unlocking the secrets of control to conquer "the flying problem," rather than developing more powerful engines as some other experimenters did. Their careful wind tunnel tests produced better aeronautical data than any before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers more effective than any before. Their U.S. patent 821,393 claims the invention of a system of aerodynamic control that manipulates a flying machine's surfaces.

They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles in particular influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle like a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice. From 1900 until their first powered flights in late 1903, they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots. Their bicycle shop employee Charlie Taylor became an important part of the team, building their first aircraft engine in close collaboration with the brothers.

The Wright brothers' status as inventors of the airplane has been subject to counter-claims by various parties. Much controversy persists over the many competing claims of early aviators.

The Wright brothers were two of seven children born to Milton Wright (1828–1917) and Susan Catherine Koerner (1831–1889). Wilbur Wright was born near Millville, Indiana in 1867; Orville in Dayton, Ohio in 1871. The brothers never married. The other Wright siblings were named Reuchlin (1861–1920), Lorin (1862–1939), Katharine (1874–1929), and twins Otis and Ida (born 1870, died in infancy). In elementary school, Orville was given to mischief and was once expelled. In 1878 their father, who traveled often as a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, brought home a toy "helicopter" for his two younger sons. The device was based on an invention of French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Pénaud. Made of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to twirl its rotor, it was about a foot long. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke, and then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the initial spark of their interest in flying.

Early career and research

Wright brothers' home at 7 Hawthorn Street, Dayton about 1900. Wilbur and Orville built the covered wrap-around porch in the 1890s.

Both brothers attended high school, but did not receive diplomas. The family's abrupt move in 1884 from Richmond, Indiana to Dayton (where the family had lived during the 1870s) prevented Wilbur from receiving his diploma after finishing four years of high school.

In the winter of 1885–86 Wilbur was accidentally struck in the face by a hockey stick while playing an ice-skating game with friends, resulting in the loss of his front teeth. He had been vigorous and athletic until then, and although his injuries did not appear especially severe, he became withdrawn, and did not attend Yale as planned. Had he enrolled, his career might have taken a very different path than the extraordinary one he eventually followed with Orville. Instead, he spent the next few years largely housebound, caring for his mother who was terminally ill with tuberculosis and reading extensively in his father's library. He ably assisted his father during times of controversy within the Brethren Church but also expressed unease over his own lack of ambition.

Orville dropped out of high school after his junior year to start a printing business in 1889, having designed and built his own printing press with Wilbur's help. Wilbur shook off the lingering depression caused by his accident and joined the print shop, serving as editor while Orville was publisher of the weekly newspaper the West Side News, followed for only a few months by the daily Evening Item. One of their clients for printing jobs was Orville's friend and classmate in high school, Paul Laurence Dunbar, who rose to international acclaim as a ground-breaking African-American poet and writer. The Wrights printed the Dayton Tattler, a weekly newspaper that Dunbar edited for a brief period.

Birth: Aug. 19, 1871 Dayton Montgomery County Ohio, USA Death: Jan. 30, 1948 Dayton Montgomery County Ohio, USA

Inventor: Orville, the younger of the two brothers who would invent the airplane and start the aerial age, he outlived his brother Wilbur by 36 years. Wilbur and Orville started a printing business in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio which soon expanded to a bicycle shop. Their interest in flying was piqued by their father, Milton, a well educated bishop in the Church of The United Brethren in Christ. The brothers inherited their mother Susan's mechanical ability (she made small appliances and toys). Their goal was to invent a device that would not only fly but take off and land. Starting with a kite, then gliders, they finally added a propeller and an engine and the "Wright Flyer" was created. After the successful four flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, they returned to Dayton and continued their experiments at Huffman Prairie. They were awarded a patent in 1906 and started trying to attract potential customers with demonstration flights in Europe and elsewhere. With orders in hand including a contract to build planes for the United States Army, Wilbur and Orville started the Wright Company and began filling orders, but upon the early death of Wilbur, Orville, discouraged, sold the business in 1912 and retired. The two had been very close, lived at home and never married. Today the "Wright Flyer" is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., along with the stopwatch used to time the first flights. (bio by: Donald Greyfield)

Family links:

 Milton Wright (1828 - 1917)
 Susan Catherine Koerner Wright (1831 - 1888)


 Reuchlin Wright (1861 - 1920)*
 Lorin Wright (1862 - 1939)*
 Wilbur Wright (1867 - 1912)*
 Otis Wright (1870 - 1870)*
 Ida Wright (1870 - 1870)*
 Orville Wright (1871 - 1948)
 Katharine Wright Haskell (1874 - 1929)*

*Calculated relationship

Burial: Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum Dayton Montgomery County Ohio, USA Plot: section 101 lot 2533

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Orville Loren Wright's Timeline

August 19, 1871
Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United States
Age 8
Cedar Rapids, Linn, Iowa, United States
Age 28
Dayton City, Montgomery, Ohio
Age 38
Dayton Ward 5, Montgomery, Ohio
Age 58
Van Buren, Montgomery, Ohio
January 30, 1948
Age 76
Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United States
February 2, 1948
Age 76
Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United States