Who Were Wilbur and Orville?
1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
Designing the Flyer
The Breakthrough Concept
To design their first powered airplane, which they simply called the Flyer, the Wrights returned to their wind tunnel data and the lift and drag equations. To carry the weight of an engine, propellers, and added structural reinforcement, they had to increase the wing area to more than 500 square feet.
1903 Wright Flyer Sketch Repoduction
A reproduction of the Wright brothers'preliminary sketch of the 1903 Wright Flyer
Allowing 200 pounds for the propulsion system, they estimated that the aircraft with pilot would weigh 625 pounds. Based on this estimate, they calculated power, thrust, and speed requirements and concluded they needed an 8-horsepower engine generating 90 pounds of thrust to achieve a minimum airspeed of 23 miles per hour.

A reproduction of the Wright brothers’ preliminary sketch of the 1903 Wright Flyer, drawn in pencil on brown wrapping paper. The notations are in Wilbur’s handwriting. The original is at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
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Artifact Gallery WB:242-L4-S4
The Wrights used this French-made, hand-held anemometer to measure wind speeds
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