And when times like in 1901 when the Wright Brothers had a very bad season,and were coming back from Kitty Hawk, and Wilbur said he didn't think man would ever fly. But Orville was always optimistic and always willing to try something new. So I think there was a marvelous synergism between the two. In 1899, Wilbur and Orville read a book on the flight of birds. They began to believe in the possibility of human flight. Wilbur wrote”We accordingly decided to write to the Smithsonian Institution and inquire for the best books relating to the subject.” Wilbur spent three months sifting through the work of distinguished scientist and aviation experimenters. He identified three key areas; Lift, power to generate thrust and control. Lilienthal had made notable progress on the basics of lift. Langley had shown that power plant and propeller combinations would work. Wilbur saw his path clearly. He must investigate control first. I have thought always that one of the intellectual keys for them to success with flight control was their experience with bicycles. You know when we ride a bike, we are doing something that is fairly complex. In fact, when you stand back from it, and stop and think about what you are doing when you are riding a bike you know its pretty incredible. You are rolling along on these two thin little things. When you
want to return a corner, it isn't just turning the handlebars. You have to lean out, turn into it. There is a fairly complex control motion involved. And in fact, when you think about flight control in aircraft,you can see the same linkages. It takes, I think, someone with the sort of minds they had to make that kind of leap. Wilbur began by exploring a method of balancing the wings. He built a five foot span biplane kite by twisting and warping the wing tips in opposite directions. Wilbur found he could control the craft in roll. This was the first of several key breakthroughs that would eventually lead to the Wrights to success.
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