The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who were credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903.
The brothers’ fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became standard and remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving “the flying problem”. This approach differed significantly from other experimenters of the time who put more emphasis on developing powerful engines. Using a small homebuilt wind tunnel, the Wrights also collected more accurate data than any before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers that were more efficient than any before.
The wright brothers appear to be the first design team to make serious studied attempts to simultaneously solve the power and control problems. Both problems proved difficult, but they never lost interest. Eventually, they designed and build an engine that could provide the needed power, and solved the control problem through a system known as “wing wrapping”. Although this method was used only briefly during the history of aviation, it worked at the low airspeeds their designs would fly at, and proved to be a key advance leading directly to modern ailerons.