The Wright Brothers' first attempt at powered flight, 14 December 1903.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) at the controls of the 'Flyer' at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, United States. Orville Wright and his brother Wilbur (1867-1912) were self-taught American aeroplane pioneers. After extensive experiments with kites and gliders, the Wright Brothers arrived at a design for an aircraft capable of sustained controlled flight. They than added a petrol engine to the aircraft, which they christened the 'Flyer', in 1903. Three days after their first, unsuccessful attempt, the Flyer achieved the first sustained powered flight, with Orville piloting, on 17 December 1903. Their success at Kitty Hawk encouraged the brothers to abandon their cycle business and patent their flying machine, forming an aircraft production company in 1909.