- A set of lifting surfaces, or wings.
- A method of balancing and controlling the aircraft.
- A means of propulsion.
Most earlier experimenters focused only on one or another of these problems and did not consider the final design from the outset. The Wrights recognized that each of these areas had to be successfully addressed to build a working airplane. They believed that the aerodynamic and propulsion problems would be comparatively easier to solve, so they first concentrated on how to maintain balance and control.
Stability and control: The influence of the bicycle
Many earlier experimenters believed that air currents were too swift and unpredictable for human reflexes. Therefore, an aircraft had to be inherently stable for the pilot to be able to maintain control.
Because of the Wrights’ extensive experience with the bicycle—a highly unstable but controllable machine—they saw no reason why an airplane could not be unstable yet controllable as well.
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