Who Were Wilbur and Orville?
1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
The 1902 Glider
The 1902 Glider
Compared to their previous gliders, the Wrights’ 1902 glider had a much thinner airfoil and longer and narrower wings, which their wind tunnel tests had shown to be more efficient. To improve lateral control, they added a fixed vertical rudder to the rear of the glider. They retained the reliable forward elevator for pitch control but made it elliptical in shape.
The 1902 Wright Glider in Flight, Side View
The 1902 Wright glider was the world's first fully controllable aircraft.
The first fully controllable aircraft
After modifying the glider’s rudder, the Wrights now had a true three-dimensional system of control. This three-axis control system was their single most important design breakthrough, and was the central aspect of the flying machine patent they later obtained. In its final form, the 1902 Wright glider was the world’s first fully controllable aircraft.
Wingspan: 9.8 m (32 ft)
Wing Area: 28.3 sq m (305 sq ft)
Length: 4.9 m (16 ft 1 in)
Height: 2.4 m (8 ft)
Weight: 53 kg (117 lb)
Wright 1902 Glider In Flight
The 1902 Wright glider.
1902 Wright glider: The most advanced glider
The third in a series of gliders leading up to their powered airplane, the 1902 glider was the Wright brothers’ most advanced yet. Reflecting their single, evolving design, it was again a biplane with a canard (forward) surface for pitch control and wing-warping for lateral control. But its longer, narrower wings, elliptical elevator, and vertical tail gave it a much more graceful, elegant appearance.

Like the 1901 glider, this one also had a spruce framework supported within pockets sewn into its muslin fabric covering. The fabric was again applied on the bias (the direction of the weave at a 45-degree angle). The wings were rigged with a slight downward droop to counteract side-slipping due to crosswinds.
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“Our new machine is a very great improvement over anything…anyone has built. Everything is so much more satisfactory that we now believe that the flying problem is really nearing its solution.”
Wilbur Wright
October 2, 1902
Orville Piloting the 1902 Wright Glider
Orville at the Controls
Wilbur had made all the free glides with the glider since the beginning in 1900. On September 23, 1902, Orville finally got his first opportunity to pilot an aircraft. Here Wilbur and Dan Tate launch Orville in the 1902 glider.