Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneer, c 1900s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) was one of the Wright brothers who 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 then piloted by his brother Orville on 17 Dec 1903, in the first powered and controlled aircraft flight. The Flyer III built in 1905 was the first efficient plane, and, by 1909, the American army had ordered a military version.