Wilbur Wright on his aeroplane at Hunaudieres, France, August 1908.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Orville Wright (1871-1948) and his brother Wilbur (1867-1912) were self-taught American aeroplane pioneers. Orville piloted their aeroplane, named the 'Flyer', at Kitty Hawk on 17 December 1903, making the world's first sustained powered flight. The brothers patented their flying machine and modified and improved its design over the next few years. In 1908 and 1909 the Wright Brothers travelled to Europe with the objective of finding partners who would be interested in building their aircraft under license. Wilbur demonstrated the Wright aeroplane at Hunaudieres near Le Mans in France, creating a profound impression as the Flyer was capable of much longer flights than any contemporary European aeroplane.