Athax KHOVEL EITE - Wright Brothers
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 Wright Brothers-Fathers of Aeroplane

To  say simply that the Wright Brothers invented the airplane doesn't begin to describe their many accomplishments. Nor is it especially accurate. The first fixed-wing aircraft -- a kite mounted on a stick -- was conceived and flown almost a century before Orville and Wilbur made their first flights. The Wrights were first to design and build a flying craft that could be controlled while in the air. Every successful aircraft  ever built since, beginning with the 1902 Wright glider, has had controls to roll the wings right or left, pitch the nose up or down, and yawthe nose from side to side. These three controls -- roll, pitch, and yaw -- let a pilot navigate an airplane in all three dimensions, making it possible to fly  from place to place. The entire aerospace business, the largest industry in the world, depends on this simple but brilliant idea. So do spacecraft, submarines, even robots.
More important, the Wright Brothers changed the way we view our world.  Before flight became commonplace, folks traveled in just two dimensions, north and south, east and west, crossing the lines that separate town from town, nation from nation.  Seen from above, the artificial boundaries that divide us disappear. Distances shrink, the horizon stretches. The world seems grander and more interconnected. This three-dimensional vision has revealed a universe of promises and possibilities. The world economy, our awareness of our environment, and space exploration are all, to some degree, the results of the inventive minds of the Wilbur and Orville Wright.
Here, in brief, is their story. To explore any part of it in greater detail, click on the section titles below or  left.
Wilbur and Orville were the sons of Milton and Susan Wright and members of a warm, loving family that encouraged learning and doing.  Milton was a bishop in the United Brethren Church, and was often away from home on church business. But he wrote hundreds of letters home, and often brought back presents from his trips, exposing his children to the world beyond their horizon. In 1878, he brought home a rubber band-powered helicopter, and young Wilbur and Orville immediately began to build copies of it.
In 1884, Bishop Wright moved his family to Dayton, Ohio, the political center of the United Brethren Church. About the same time, his wife Susan fell ill with tuberculosis. Wilbur, just out of high school, put off college and nursed his sick mother. Orville began to lose interest in school and learned the printing business. Susan Wright died in the summer of 1889, the same year that Orville dropped out of high school to open his own print shop.
Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up in a close, caring family. Their father, Bishop Milton Wright, was a strict disciplinarian, but he and his wife, Susan, were also warm, loving, protective, and encouraged  intellectual interest and constructive activity.  Susan, the daughter of a carriage maker, was remarkably mechanically adept, and she taught her children to make all manner of things. Milton didn't know which end of a hammer to hang onto, but he encouraged this activity. He also exposed his children to the wide world beyond their horizon through his library and the letters he sent home when he traveled on church business.
The Wright brothers had their share of squabbles, like siblings everywhere. But they were much closer than most. Of his relationship to his brother, Wilbur wrote:
"From the time we were little children, my brother Orville and myself lived together, played together, worked together, and, in fact, thought together. We usually owned all of our toys in common, talked over our thoughts and aspirations so that nearly everything that was done in our lives has been the result of conversations, suggestions, and discussions between us."
1859 to 1869   The United Brethren Church assigns Milton Wright as a circuit preacher in eastern Indiana. Wilbur is born near Millville on August 16, 1867.
1869 to 1878   Milton moves to Dayton to edit the Religious Telescope newspaper and buys a new house in a city suburb. Orville is born on August 19, 1871. Milton is elected a bishop in 1877.
1878 to 1881   Milton is appointed leader of the United Brethren conferences west of the Mississippi and the Wrights move to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Returning from one of his travels, his brings Wilbur and Orville a toy helicopter. The boys make several copies.
1881 to 1884    Milton loses his position to church politics and returns to Indiana as a circuit preacher. Susan's health begins to fail. Wilbur excels as a scholar and an athlete and graduates high school. Orville becomes interested in printing and develops a reputation for mischief.
1884 to 1889   Concerned about changes in the United Brethren Church, Milton moves his family back to Dayton, Ohio to be closer to the leadership. In 1889 he splits with the church becomes leader of his own sect. After a sporting accident, Wilbur puts off college and tends his tuberculin mother. Orville drops out of high school in his senior year to start a printing business.
The Wright Brothers were the sons of Milton and Susan Wright. Milton was the son of a pioneer, a minister in the United Brethren Church, and  a professor of theology. Susan was the daughter of a carriage maker who had converted to the United Brethren faith when she was 14. Milton met Susan at Hartville College, Indiana in 1853, where he was working and she was a student of literature. Both shared a love for learning for the sake of learning -- Milton augmented his theology training with algebra and Greek, while Susan not only excelled in literature, but also math and science. After a long courtship, Milton asked Susan to marry him and accompany him to the Oregon Territory where the United Brethren church had assigned him as a teacher and a missionary among the mining camps. She did not go with him to Oregon, but agreed to marry on his return. They married in 1859, fairly late in life -- he was almost 31, she was 28. Nonetheless, they had seven children together.
Because of Milton's position in his church, the Wrights were a family on the move -- the Wrights moved twelve times before coming to roost in Dayton, Ohio. The first son, Reuchlin, was born in a log cabin in 1861 near Fairmont, Indiana where Milton was traveling and preaching on the church "circuits." The second, Lorin, was born in 1862 in Orange Township, Fayette County, Indiana. Wilbur was the third son, born in 1867 near Millville, Indiana. The Wrights moved to Dayton, Ohio in 1870 when Milton was chosen to edit the church newspaper, the Religious Telescope -- a position which thrust him to prominence within the United Brethren and eventually got him elected as a bishop. Soon after they arrived, Susan gave birth to twins, Otis and Ida. Ida died at 13 days and Otis lived only 18 days. Orville, the sixth child, was born in Dayton in 1871. The youngest, Katharine -- and the only surviving daughter -- was born in 1874. 
None of the Wright children had middle names. Instead, their father tried hard to give them distinctive first names. Wilbur was named for Wilbur Fiske and Orville for for Orville Dewey, both clergyman that Milton Wright admired. They were "Will" and "Orv" to their friends, and "Ullam" and "Bubs" to each other. In Dayton, their neighbors knew them simply as the "Bishop's kids." 
In 1878 Bishop Milton Wright assumed responsibility for the western conferences in the United Brethren Church and moved his family to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Bishop was often away from home on church business, and returning from one of his trips, he brought his two youngest sons a rubber band-powered toy helicopter. (Orville later recalled that the helicopter was based on a design by French inventor Alphonse Penaud, whose work in aeronautics they would study as grown men.) Wilbur and Orville made several copies of this toy -- this was the first powered aircraft they  built together. When caught by his teacher while working on one of these toys when he should have been studying, Orville explained that he and Wilbur planned to build a craft large enough to carry both of them.
Both boys did well in school, although Orville had a reputation for mischief. His eighth and ninth grade teacher made him sit at the front of the class where she could keep and eye on him. The Bishop himself was occasionally at odds with the school authorities for allowing his children to take "a half a day off now and then" to pursue their own intellectual interests. He maintained a large personal library and encouraged his children to use it. He also sent back many letters from his wide travels, purposefully designed to stimulate his children's curiosity. Looking back on his childhood, Orville once commented that he and his brother had "special advantages...we were lucky enough to grow up in a home environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to investigate whatever aroused their curiosity."
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