On the first commercial flight, how did they carry the silk?
It was wrapped up in a package and tied to the wing near the pilot.

How could the Wrights control the airplane with the hip cradle?
The hip cradle was one of the three controls the Wrights used. It banked the airplane right and left.

How many different kinds of materials did they test for the wings?
The Wrights used two different types of cloth on their early test aircraft. The first was called "French Sateen". The quickly changed to a cotton muslin called "Pride of the West." which they used for many years.

When did they decide to put the back rudder on the plane?
The Wrights first put a controllable rear vertical rudder on their 1902 Glider. This was the first flying machine with three-axis control.

How big was the original plane?
The first planes wings were 40 feet 4 inches long. The wings were about 6 1/2' wide. The flyer was about 8 feet tall and about 21 feet long.

How many planes did they make in their lifetime?
I don't think anybody knows exactly. Their company built over one hundred, but the Wrights themselves probably build less than ten.

How long did it take the Wright brothers to build the first plane and How long does it take to build an airplane today?
The Wright brothers spent about one year building their flyer and getting it ready for test flights. Most people who build their own airplanes today take several years to complete them because they only work part time. A builder could easily build a small plane in one year of he had a good partner, like Wilbur and Orville, and worked full time.

How did the planes pick up speed when in the air?
Getting enough speed for flight was the most difficult problem the Wrights experienced in the early years. In order for the motor to develop full power it needed to run fast. This is why the Wright brothers used a gravity assisted catapult in 1904 to help get the flyer at flying speed so the motor could develop enough speed to turn the propellers fast enough to develop enough thrust to keep the flyer in the air and allow it to make turns.

What inspired the Wright Brothers to fly planes or be in the inventing business?
The Wrights were inspired by many things and many people, but they mostly credited the German hang glider pilot and builder, Otto Lilienthal, with inspiring them to take up the problem of flight.

Why did the Wright Brothers decide to put the elevator in the front instead of in the back?
The Wrights knew that the elevator would more efficiently in front. Stabilizers and elevators in the rear are not as efficient, but are easier to fly.

How many parts were there on the first Wright Flyer?
The 1903 Flyer had thousands of parts. Something as simple as the wing rib had over 60 parts if you count things like the nails.

What exactly is a hip cradle?
It was a padded wooden cradle like structure that the Wrights laid upon. It was called a "hip cradle" because they laid across it just below their hips. By shifting it right and left it caused the flyer to bank.

How fast did the first mail airplane go?
About 30 miles per hour through the air.

How did the Wright brothers land the planes?
The original Wright Flyer of 1903 had so little power that a control mistake would cause it to lose altitude and return to the sand.

I wanted to know how the controls and gauges have changed from the past to now. And did they have anything to do with any aircraft manufacturers of today, like Boeing, and Cessna.
Although aircraft today are much more complex, the basic flight controls are quite similar to those of the Wrights. The work of Wilbur and Orville influenced all aircraft builders.

How much did the plane weigh and how did they get it in to the museum?
The 1903 Flyer weighs about 600 lbs. It was taken apart for transportation and assembled in the museum.

Did they ever get married or have any kids?
Neither Wilbur, Orville nor Katharine married or had kids. Their brothers Lorin and Reuchlin both married and had kids. They were a very close family.

How old were the brothers when they flew the plane?
Wilbur was 36 and Orville was 32.

How old were each of the wright family when they died
Milton Wright, the father, was 88.
Susan Wright, the mother was 58.
Wilbur Wright was 45.
Orville Wright was 76.
Reuchlin Wright was 59.
Lorin Wright was 77.

The Wright Brothers also had two siblings (a set of twins) who died shortly after birth.

How did the brothers move the flyer from place to place when they wanted to go to Europe and test it?
The flyer could be disassembled and packed in crates. It was shipped overseas in these crates. When they reached their destination, they could then reassemble the parts of the machine.

Who is Otto Lilienthal?
Otto Lilienthal was a German who experimented with constructing and flying gliders in the late 1890s. He inspired the Wright Brothers because of his firm belief in researching the problems of flight, instead of just guessing. Lilienthal died in 1896 while gliding.

Was the Wright Flyer ever in any early Hollywood movies?
No, The Flyer was damaged during the last flight of Dec. 17, 1903 and crated up and sent back to Dayton, Ohio. In 1928 it was sent to the Science Museum in London for display. In 1948 it was returned to the United States and displayed at the National Air and Space Museum, where it can be seen today.

What is the Wright Bat?
The bat refers to a toy helicopter designed by Alphonse Penaud. The Wright Brothers received the toy as a gift from their father when they were just children. It is often credited with inspiring the brothers with ideas of flight.

Why did the Wright Brothers choose Kitty Hawk to fly their airplane?
The Brothers did a lot of research to find a place that had good wind and a good place for landings. Kitty Hawk had the wind and the sand dunes were great for the take offs for their gliders and the landings.

Kitty Hawk provided sand for soft landings, a few hills for take-offs, and constant winds needed for sustained flight. Kitty Hawk was also isolated, which meant the Wright Brothers could test their gliders and flyer in privacy.

How did they balance on the plane?
Why didn't they fall off?

The brothers were great bicycle riders and so the balance was almost natural for them.

Why did the Wright Brothers never graduate from high school?
It is not entirely clear why Wilbur never received his high school diploma, but we know the family moved away from Richmond, Indiana at the time he would have received the diploma. Orville did fine in school, but his heart was not in it. He was more interested in pursuing his interests, such as his printing business. Orville started his first printing business when he was just about 15 years old.

How long did it take the wright brothers to make the first plane?
It took them just 4 years

Did Wilbur and Orville think that they were going to be the first people to fly the airplane?
Especially after their glider experiments in 1902, the Wrights knew they had discovered information that no one else had discovered. In fact they actually proved that the information others had been relying on for years was wrong. So yes, by 1902, they were pretty sure they were going to do it.

What did the Wright Brothers build their plane out of?
The plane was made out of muslin fabric for the wings, wood, and bicycle chains. Charlie Taylor was the Wright Brothers mechanician who hand made the engine out of steel.

Where did they get the idea for a plane from?
The Wright Brothers were fascinated with the idea of flying as children when their father brought them home a toy that flew through the air. They were later inspired by others who were experimenting with flying, such as the German Otto Lilienthal who crashed in his glider and died in 1896.

Did they build their planes in the bike shop or somewhere else?
The brothers built most of the airplanes in the bike shop. They also did minor revisions at Kitty Hawk.

Did Orville and Wilbur get hurt when they first flew the airplane?
No, but Orville was hurt in 1908 in a plane crash.

How many inventions did they invent?
Orville and Wilbur Wright were granted five airplane patents. Orville filed for a sixth airplane patent after Wilbur died. Orville also invented a toy, which was patented in 1925.

How did the wright brothers die?
Wilbur died in 1912 of Typhoid Fever and Orville died in 1948 from a heart attack.

What happened to Orville after Wilbur died?
He was not very active in aviation after his brother died. Orville missed his brother very much. He did keep teaching others to fly here in Dayton at the Wright School of Aviation for a while. He also did a lot of experimenting and tinkering in a laboratory that he built for himself.

How high was the first flight?
About 8 to 10 feet.

Did Wilbur and Orville's parents ever fly in the plane that they made?
Susan died before they invented the plane. Milton only flew once in 1910.

Where did the Wright brothers get their mechanical abilities?
A lot of that credit is given to their mother Susan who was the true mechanic in the family. The brothers were encouraged from a very young age to figure things out for themselves.

How often and when did the brothers crash their planes?
The Wrights crashed a few times when they were flying their gliders at Kitty Hawk, but they were never hurt badly. Orville crashed in 1908 and his passenger was killed. Orville was hurt, but recovered.

Did Katharine help her brothers build anything?
No, but Katharine helped run the bicycle shop while the Wilbur and Orville were in Kitty Hawk. She also helped them on their trips to Europe.

How big was the engine used by the Wrights?
170 lbs and produce 12 horsepower.

What year did the Wright brothers make their first bike?
They began building their own brands of bicycles in 1895.

Which brother was the first to fly?
Orville was he first to fly. Actually they flipped a coin and Wilbur won. They attempted to fly with Wilbur at the controls on Dec 14 but that was not a successful flight. That allowed Orville to be the first.

How far did your 1901 glider fly?
They flew the glider several hundred times, ranging from 50 to 400 feet.

We noticed that a lot of the terms that apply to flight also apply to ships and sailing, like: yaw, rudder and stabilizer. Did the Wright brothers study ships or sailing?
The Wrights studied ship propellers when they were trying to find a propeller for their airplane. They couldn't find any that were what they needed, so they had to design and build their own.

How many times did the Wright brothers fly the plane so it could be perfect?
The Wright brothers built three airplanes before the considered the flying problem solved in 1905. They made hundreds of flights in the process.

How come the Brothers had two pieces of wings instead of just one piece of wing like our modern ones?
It is possible to build a very light and strong airplane using two wings. The biplane structure also allowed it to be twisted to control it in roll.

Did the brothers make any money from their work with airplanes?
The brothers made some money, but not millions. They made some money from prizes for flying the longest and highest. Their company built airplanes and sold them. They didn't become millionaires from their invention.

How did they control the airplanes?
An elevator, a rudder and wing warping controlled the Wright flyer.

The elevator, which was in front of the wings controlled the up and down motion of the flyer.

The rudder in the rear steered it right and left.

The wing warping caused the aircraft to bank right and left.

The flyer turned much like a bicycle. It was banked to turn using the wing warping to lean over and the rudder to start it turning.

Once it has begun turning the controls are returned to the neutral position. When the pilot wants to stop turning he moves the rudder and wing warping in the opposite direction to stop the turn.

The elevator does not make the flyer go up and down. The elevator controls the angle at which the wings strike the air. Turn the wing up in front and it will rise momentarily, but quickly slow down and begin descending unless more power is added through the propeller. Turn the elevator down and the airplane speeds up. Naturally it will also go down. If the elevator keeps pointing down the airplane will speed up to the point where it will break.

To go up or down, the pilot adds or reduces power.

Did they ever fly longer than 59 seconds?
Yes. In later models of the airplane they could fly for hours.

Why didn't Wilbur and Orville Wright go to college? Did they have the money?
Wilbur had planned to go to college, but when he was a young man he got his teeth knocked out in a hockey accident. He was very shaken up by this and stayed at home a lot. He didn't seem to have a lot of confidence in himself, and instead of going to college, he stayed home and took care of his mother who was dying of tuberculosis.

Orville didn't like school all that much and never finished high school. I don't think he ever thought about college.

Both of the brothers were very smart and learned a lot on their own and with their parents’ encouragement.

How big was the house?
Their house on Hawthorne St was not very big, but it had a kitchen, a parlor or living room, and an upstairs with at least three bedrooms.

How did Katharine help her brothers?
Katharine Wright helped her brothers in many ways. Their mother died when Katharine was only 15 years old. She took on the responsibility of taking care of the house, doing the cooking and cleaning, shopping, and when she was older, even helped manage the family's finances. She helped nurse Orville back to health after he was injured in a crash in 1908. Katharine traveled with her brothers when they went to Europe to show their airplane. She was always a great cheerleader for her brothers.