Orville Wright, American aviation pioneer, 1903.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Wright (1871-1948) and his brother Wilbur (1876- 1912) originally designed and built bicycles but changed their interest to flying, producing a controllable glider by 1902, and a year later the first aircraft, Flyer I. This was piloted by Orville on 17 December 1903 in the first powered and controlled aircraft flight. The Flyer III, built in 1905, was the first efficient aeroplane and by 1909 the American army had ordered a military version.