Who Were Wilbur and Orville?
1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
1903
Propellers & Transmission
Propellers and Transmission
One of the most innovative aspects of the 1903 Flyer was its propellers. The Wrights’ decided to treat the propeller as if it were a rotary wing. They reasoned that the same physics that generated an upward force (lift) on a curved surface in a flow of air would also produce a horizontal force (thrust) when such a surface was positioned vertically and rotated to create the airflow.
Wright Flyer Chain-and-Sprocket Transmission System
Chain-and-Sprocket Transmission System
Making the propellers
Conceiving the aerodynamic propeller was another example of the Wrights’ great ability to think visually and turn abstract ideas into working hardware. The Wrights decided to use two, slow-turning, large propellers, because this arrangement offered great efficiency, and the propellers could be spun in opposite directions to neutralize the gyroscopic effects of the whirling blades.
Each propeller was 8 feet in diameter and made from two laminations of 1-inch spruce. The blades were shaped with a hatchet and a drawknife and the tips covered with fabric and varnished to prevent splitting.
Chain-and-Sprocket transmission system
Wilbur and Orville again drew upon their familiarity with bicycles in creating the transmission linkage. To transfer power from the engine to the propellers, they devised a simple chain-and-sprocket arrangement running from the engine crankshaft to a pair of steel propeller shafts. To make the propellers rotate in opposite directions, they simply twisted one of the two chains in a figure eight.
Go to Flight Controls >>
Artifact Gallery WB:242-L4-S4
The Wrights used this stopwatch to time the Kitty Hawk flights.
View more >>