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Wilbur Wright 1867-1912 was born in Millville Indiana on April 16 1867 As boys he and his younger brother Orville made simple mechanical toys and in 1888 they built a large printing press The following year they began to publish the Dayton Ohio West Side News which Wilbur edited Already successful printers the brothers opened a bicycle repair shop and showroom in 1892 and three years later they began assembling bicycles with tools of their own invention The Wrights were admirers of the writings and feats of the 19th-century German engineer Otto Lilienthal and the American engineer Octave Chanute experimenters in gliders and flight In September 1900 at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk North Carolina they tested their own glider Carefully recording their findings they concluded that the previously accepted aeronautical data on which they had relied were incorrect In 1901 the brothers tested the effects of air pressure on more than 200 wing surfaces and in 1902 by executing almost 1000 glides in a new glider they confirmed their Kitty Hawk data At Kitty Hawk the Wrights also proved to their satisfaction that planes could be balanced best by pilots rather than by built-in engineering devices This became the major idea covered by the first Wright patent In 1903 the brothers constructed their first propeller from original calculations It was about 35 percent more effective than other propellers available at the time Next they built a 337-kg 750-lb machine with a 12-hp motor in which on December 17 1903 at Kitty Hawk they made the first powered airplane flights in history Despite public indifference they dedicated themselves to the development of better engines and planes The site of the first flight now the Wright Brothers National Memorial is administered by the National Park Service In 1908 Wilbur Wright set new distance and altitude records for flight in France That same year the Wrights fulfilled a contract with the United States Army Signal Corps
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