Air Transport World

Centennial of flight.

Returning home after the crushing disappointment of the 1901 glider, the Wright Brothers launched themselves into quantifying exactly why that aircraft had failed to live up to their expectations. The result of these explorations was nothing less than the world's first true airplane, the 1902 glider, the first aircraft to have a fully realized three-axis control system that put the pilot in true control of his craft. It didn't start out that way though.

The Wrights' first concern was why the 1901 glider had failed to perform the way lift tables said it should. They believed the existing tables were flawed, but it wasn't until Wilbur accepted an invitation to speak to the Western Society of Engineers that he decided to produce research to back up his beliefs (ATW, 12/02). …

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