On this day, in 1906, Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright, better known as the “Wright Brothers,” obtained a patent (US821393) for their incredibly innovative “Flying-Machine.” After building and testing several different versions, their first powered airplane flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, about 9 months after the patent application was filed. The first flight lasted about 12 seconds, traveling 36 meters (120 feet), with Orville Wright piloting the craft.

Although the Wright brothers are, perhaps, best known for inventing, building and flying the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane, they were also the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing flight possible. Their first patent, referenced in this article, focuses on a method of controlling a flying machine, powered or not.

Below are some drawings from the patent, although the actual plane is on display in the Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.


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