Orville Wright flying the first Signal Corps Army aeroplane, USA, 1908.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Orville Wright (1871-1948) at the controls of the aircraft, carrying the first military air pasenger at Fort Myer, Virginia. Orville Wright and his brother Wilbur (1867-1912) were self-taught American aeroplane pioneers. They made the world's first sustained powered flight on 17 December 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In January 1907 they submitted a bid to the US Army Signal Corps to build a military version of their aeroplane. Orville performed test flights for the Army in August and September 1908. Despite a crash which injured Wright and killed his pasenger, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, the Army were persuaded that the aeroplane had military value. The first aeroplane, named Signal Corps Airplane No 1, entered service in October 1909.