The History of Aviation: Part 3

We’ve been covering the history of the aviation industry over the last couple of months and with this installment, we’ll explore some of the pioneers that established the basis by which aircrafts are produced and maintained today. For part 1 in our series, click here. Part 2 is located here.

The turn of the century brought remarkable change. Backed by hundreds of years of trial and error, study of lifting surfaces, and understanding flight control in three-dimensional space, the Wright Brothers produced the first powered gliding machine in 1903. Orville Wright was the first person to fly a sustained, powered, and controlled manned flight at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

Immortalized in the famous photograph, the flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet, but their work wasn’t done. The Wrights constantly tweaked and altered their designs, with iterations of the Wright Flyer continuing for several years. The Flyer III, introduced in 1905, suffered a severe crash that resulted in critical design changes that would influence the future of aviation forever.

The Wrights doubled the size of both the elevator and rudder and relocated them behind the wings by twice the distance previous. Two vertical vanes were installed between the elevators, the rudder was moved from the wing control and was placed on a separate control system. This is still used today. After this change, there were no more pitch instability issues on the Wright’s aircrafts. The redesigned and reworked Flyer III was the basis of modern aviation and on October 15, 1905, Wilbur Wright flew over 24 miles in less than 40 minutes.

While the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers were monumental, they didn’t exactly catch the world on fire. Only three newspapers even mentioned their historic flight and the U.S. Government largely refused to accept the Wright’s services to the Secretary of War. In fact, the British War Office was the first to contact the Wrights to request terms for the purchase of their invention. A patent was issued in 1906 for a “Flying Machine” and in 1907, Wilbur sailed to Europe to sell his flying machines to the British, French, Italians, and Germans.

Next time, we’ll explore the impact of aircraft on the first World War and look ahead to its significance in the second. Don’t forget: if you’re looking for aircraft connectors, parts, or accessories for flying machines of every type, check out our brand-new store at