Wright Brothers engine, 1903.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Replica. Orville Wright (1871-1948), together with his brother Wilbur (1867-1912), were American pioneers of early flight. They developed and fitted a lightweight engine to their aircraft Flyer I which was piloted by Orville on 17 December 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Although this was the first powered and controlled aircraft flight, Flyer III, built in 1905, was the first truly efficient aeroplane. By 1909 the American army had ordered a military version.