Wilbur Wright and Madame Hart Berg seated in a flying machine, early 1900s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) and his brother, Orville (1871- 1948), were self-taught American aeroplane pioneers. They 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 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA, 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. In 1909 they formed an aircraft production company.