born April 16, 1867, near Millville, Ind., U.S.
died May 30, 1912, Dayton, Ohio
born Aug. 19, 1871, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
died Jan. 30, 1948, Dayton
U.S. inventors who achieved the first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight.
The brothers first worked in printing-machinery design and later in bicycle manufacturing, which financed their early experiments in airplane design. To test flight control, essential to successful powered flight, they built and flew three biplane gliders (1900–02). Propeller and engine innovations led to their first powered airplane, which Orville flew successfully for 12 seconds and Wilbur later flew for 59 seconds at Kill Devil Hills, N.C. (near the village of Kitty Hawk), on Dec. 17, 1903. Their flyer of 1905 could turn, bank, circle, and remain airborne for over 35 minutes. They demonstrated their planes in Europe and the U.S.; in 1908 Wilbur gave over 100 exhibition flights in France, setting a duration record of 2 hours and 20 minutes. They established an aircraft company and produced planes for the U.S. Army. After Wilbur's death from typhoid, Orville sold his interest in the company, which later merged with the company of Glenn H. Curtiss .