January 22, 2009
Wright Brothers
Wilbur and Orville Wright, born on April 16, 1867 (in Millville, Indiana) and on August 19, 1871 (in Dayton, Ohio), are considered the fathers of aviation. The sons of a Dayton minister, both boys demonstrated mechanical genius from a young age, opening a bicycle repair shop and showroom to exhibit their creations in 1892. By 1900, the brothers had determined that they would be capable of creating a manned-flying machine and began consuming all data available on aviation. They selected Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to test their experiments for the temperament of its winds and its isolation from population centers. They made two unsuccessful, though constructive, tests of the gliders they had developed, before settling on an engine-powered design. After building a custom engine, they made one final failed attempt, before finding success on December 17, 1903, with Orville at the controls. The brothers made a total of four flights on that day, alternating the role of pilot. A gust of wind, unfortunately, destroyed the successful flying machine and they shipped the remains back to Dayton. Wilbur Wright died on May 30, 1912 in Dayton, Ohio. Orville Wright died on January 30, 1948, also in Dayton. The Wright Brothers were made Great Ohioans in 2003.

Photo: The Wright Brothers, Wilbur (L) and Orville (R), inventors of powered flight.