The brothers considered using a system of gears and pivoting shafts to angle the wings in opposite directions, but they quickly realized such a system would be too heavy and complex. Then they conceived the elegant concept of twisting, or warping, the wing structure itself, a method they called wing-warping.
The Significance of Wing-Warping
Controlling lateral balance aerodynamically with wing-warping reflected the Wrights’ focus on producing a practical airplane that could be developed further. They were not interested in merely getting off the ground with a dead-end design, simply for the credit of having made the first flight.
The Wrights were aware of earlier biplane designs, in particular the successful 1896 Chanute-Herring glider. That aircraft’s bracing especially drew their interest. Steel wires crisscrossed between vertical wooden struts that supported the upper and lower wings, creating a simple, rigid structure. The Wrights adapted this bracing system to their first aircraft, a kite they built in 1899 to test their control idea.
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