When I was in first grade I was told it was the Wright brothers who invented the airplane and I still find their names on the first page of Google. But I have heard of an Indian who invented the airplane eight years before Wright brothers first unmanned airplane in 1895. and he was successful flying in the air and landing perfectly on the ground. So I am confused who invented the airplane?
You need to research George Cayley who worked out the principles of modern aircraft in the first decades of the 19th Century, and flew heavier than air gliders by mid century.
But that should not detract from the real achievements of the Wright Brothers in constructing prototypes of practical heavier than air flying machines. Heavier than air flight by the beginning of the 20th Century was in the air (so to speak).
The Wright brothers – Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912) – were two American aviation pioneers generally credited    with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful motor-operated airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft with the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, 4 mi (6 km) south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The brothers were also the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.
In 1904–1905, the Wright brothers developed their flying machine to make longer-running and more aerodynamic flights with the Wright Flyer II, followed by the first truly practical fixed-wing aircraft, the Wright Flyer III. The brothers' breakthrough was their creation of a three-axis control system, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium.     This method remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds.   ( p183 ) From the beginning of their aeronautical work, Wilbur and Orville focused on developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving "the flying problem". This approach differed significantly from other experimenters of the time who put more emphasis on developing powerful engines.  Using a small home-built wind tunnel, the Wrights also collected more accurate data than any before, enabling them to design more efficient wings and propellers.  ( p156 )  ( p228 ) Their first U.S. patent did not claim invention of a flying machine, but rather a system of aerodynamic control that manipulated a flying machine's surfaces. 
The brothers gained the mechanical skills essential to their success by working for years in their Dayton, Ohio-based shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles, in particular, influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle such as a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice.  ( p169 ) From 1900 until their first powered flights in late 1903, they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots. Their shop employee Charlie Taylor became an important part of the team, building their first airplane engine in close collaboration with the brothers.
The Wright brothers' status as inventors of the airplane has been subject to counter-claims by various parties. Much controversy persists over the many competing claims of early aviators. Edward Roach, historian for the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, argues that they were excellent self-taught engineers who could run a small company, but they did not have the business skills or temperament to dominate the growing aviation industry. 
Looking to the Sky
Humans had been fascinated with the sky and were dreaming of joining the birds long before the first legitimate attempts to fly were made. For example, as early as the 6th Century AD, prisoners in the northern Qi region of China were forced to take test flights on kites from a tower over the city walls.
Early attempts to fly were essentially attempts to mimic bird flight. Early designs were primitive and impractical, but over time, they became more complex. The first designs that resembled ‘flying machines’ were those produced by Leonardo Da Vinci in the late 15th Century, the most famous being the ‘flapping ornithopter’ and the ‘helical rotor.’
Heavier Than Air
Sir George Cayley was first called “father of the aviation”. He is one of the most influential in the world of aviation. George spent more than 50 years of his life trying to discover how to accomplish a flight. Throughout those 50 years, he made many improvements for gliders. Caylye designed the first triplane glider in Brompton Dell in 1853. Reportedly, Cayley’s latest glider was the first gliding machine to make significant and reliable manned flights. Cayley set the foundation of understanding flying for people by identifying weight, lift, drag, and thrust as the four forces that act upon flying machines, the elements of vertical flight, the importance of cambered wings, and a lightweight engine for sustained flights.
Before the Wright brothers, aviators were preoccupied with how to takeoff and stay in the air. But the Wright brothers focused on how to control the plane while it’s flying, and they found out what they want. Also, they contributed brilliantly to the design of aircraft wings, developed hundreds of designs for the wings, air movement, air pressure and air resistance. At the insistence of the Wright brothers, they worked their way in a thoughtful way from gliding to the construction of the first aircraft. The Wright brothers made the first heavier-than-air-powered, manned aircraft, and made their first flight on December 17, 1903. Their first aircraft was unstable and unreliable, but the brothers did not give up, they did second and third plane. The third brothers’ plane was the first reliable aircraft in the history of aviation, flew stable and land safely. The brothers were more significant because despite the great development of the aircraft industry, and its many types and different uses and structures. The Wright brothers’ influence was not just being able to make the first plane it was highly developed, and the evidence is that the design and manufacturing principles adopted by the brothers are still valid today. This is a definitive proof that these two brothers had a unique mentality and preceded the era in which they lived hundreds of years.
Assembling model airplanes takes patience and skill. Some model sets are easy to put together, but most are complex, and some modelers even prefer to assemble an airplane by hand with self-acquired parts. The ideas behind model airplanes are simple: Start with some parts and glue and create a miniature version of a modern-day form of transport, a military air vehicle, or a spaceship to rival any sci-fi fan's greatest dream. What might seem odd is the history of model airplanes. Putting together model airplanes actually dates back to ancient civilizations, when modeling kits and glue weren't invented yet.
The first model aircraft found to date was unearthed during an Egyptian excavation in 1898. While excavating the Saqqara burial grounds, archaeologists found a model aircraft that is dated back to around 200 BCE. It's hard to imagine people back then thinking about air travel, but this model airplane measures 6 inches long and has wings and what is considered today to be the fuselage. The Egyptians are already believed to be one of the most advanced ancient civilizations in history, and this model airplane confirms they were engineers beyond the pyramids.
Archytas was an ancient Greek philosopher, statesman, strategist, mathematician, and astronomer. It was the last two skills he possessed -- mathematician and astronomer -- that most likely "propelled" his desire for flight. Archytas built "the pigeon," as he dubbed it, which is recorded to have actually flown approximately 200 meters, or about 219 yards. Archytas' model airplane was appropriately shaped like a bird and fueled by steam.
Leonardo da Vinci was more than a painter and sculptor. Da Vinci was also an established scientist, mathematician, engineer, and inventor. Da Vinci dreamed of air flight, too, and often scribbled those visions into notebooks. Da Vinci designed one of the earliest blueprints of a helicopter. Called the "Aerial Screw," engineers today marvel at how much this da Vinci incarnation looks like a modern-day helicopter.
The Wright Brothers
Flight finally came into fruition with Orville and Wilbur Wright. This first flight fueled the passion for model airplanes many have today. Once the Wright brothers took flight, many dreamed of doing the same thing -- only on a smaller scale. Children put together model airplanes in droves, flying them and imagining they were either Orville or Wilbur. The U.S. military used models of the Wright brothers' success to engineer aircraft for battle. Model airplanes were also used in war movies recreating the legend of the Red Baron.
Model Airplanes and Military Engineering
As discussed above, military engineers discovered the benefits of using model airplanes when initially designing aircraft for battle. As the United States fought in both World Wars, the need for reconnaissance and air bombers increased. Engineers used models to design advancements to aircraft that included larger planes with multiple propellers and increased speed. The Stealth was born from a model . but you never saw it! Models of the new military airplanes hit toy and hobby stores and were snatched up by airplane enthusiasts looking to "build" the next great military aircraft.
Today's Model Airplanes
As air flight became a common form of travel in the United States, commercial airliners used model airplanes as a marketing tool. Many major airliners gave toy model airplanes of their jets to children who flew the carriers. This was a classic play on a very well-known marketing strategy: Get the kids to want something and the parents will buy it. Kids wanted those model airplane toys, so parents flew those carriers.
As America entered into the space program, models of NASA aircraft became the next popular craft piece. Who didn't want to add the Apollo rocket ships and space shuttles to their model airplane collection? Models of space stations have also been built and sci-fi enthusiasts have an unlimited selection of models of their favorite space ships from their favorite science fiction series. Whether actual or imagined, space aircraft takes airplane modeling to the next level.
No model airplane collection is complete without a remote-controlled aircraft. This new way of building model airplanes allows users to fly the craft more realistically than just tossing it into the air and hoping the wings catch some drag. Remote-controlled model airplanes come in all shapes and sizes and are even flown in competitions.
THE FIRST AIRCRAFT CARRIER IN BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES
Although World War I vessels launched aircraft from their decks, the first ship to have a full-length flat deck was Britain’s HMS Argus, which was converted in September 1918. The United States Navy lagged behind, converting the USS Langley in 1920. They engaged in an unofficial arms race to develop their own first aircraft carrier.
The U.S. Navy’s General Board had suggested an aircraft carrier construction program in 1918, but postwar progress was tentative. “Flying-off platforms” were constructed on some battleships, affording a means of launching spotter airplanes, which would land ashore. However, the wooden platforms on the USS Texas (BB-35) and other battlewagons clearly could not substitute for a genuine aircraft carrier flight deck.
In 1922, the world’s naval powers began allotting permitted combatant tonnage under the Washington Naval Treaty. The signatories agreed to a 5-5-3 ratio of tonnage among America, Britain, and Japan, with smaller quotas for France and Italy. In compliance with the treaty, the top three nations scrapped or halted construction on sixty-six major warships, limiting themselves to 135,000 tons of aircraft carriers for the United States and Britain, with eighty-one thousand for Japan. Because conversion of existing ships was permitted, America would gain her first fighting flattops. Two massive thirty-five thousand-ton, sixteen-inch battlecruisers about one-third complete were redesigned as USS Lexington (CV-2) and Saratoga (CV-3).
Commissioned in late 1927, the “Lady Lex” and “Sara” were matched only by Japan’s thirty-six thousand-ton Kaga—powerful ships capable of making 33 knots and embarking up to ninety aircraft. Over the next fourteen years, five more carriers joined the U.S. Fleet, including the fifteen thousand-ton Ranger (CV-4) in 1934, America’s first flattop built as such but limited in size by the Washington Naval Treaty. Most notable were the twenty thousand-ton sisters Yorktown Sisters Yorktown (CV-5) and Enterprise (CV-6) under construction at Newport News, Virginia, early 1937. They were invaluable in the Pacific five years later.
Who invented the Airplane? - History
THE "FIRST" AIRPLANE
Today, we think about first airplanes. The University of Houston's College of Engineering presents this series about the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them.
T his Christmas, my wife gave me a model of the Wright Brother's first airplane. I assembled it on the dining-room table, launched it, and it really flew. Now we near the hundredth anniversary of Kitty Hawk and I'm rereading How We Invented the Airplane by Orville Wright. Written as a court deposition in 1920, it was annotated and published by historian Fred Kelly after Orville's death. It opens a fine window into the genesis of the airplane.
For years I've heard from people championing other airplane inventors. But as you pursue claims from California, Texas, Connecticut, they all blur into badly documented flights that led nowhere. Brazil credits Santos Dumont who built an airplane independently three years after the Wrights. Long after Kitty Hawk the Smithsonian Institution, which had funded Langley's two failed attempts at flight, still called him the inventor of the airplane.
But the Wright Brothers systematically built and documented a long series of controllable kites, gliders, and powered aircraft. They did their own wind-tunnel studies. Orville's article calls out a parade of prior workers: Leonardo, Cayley, Maxim, Bell, Lilienthal, Langley, Chanute, and many more. He knew perfectly well they hadn't been working in a vacuum. They'd been one in a series, perhaps the last in the series, of the people who'd brought the airplane into being.
To pilot the first Wright airplane, you lay on the bottom wing, looking out between the two horizontal stabilizers in front. Two side-by-side rudders were mounted in the rear. Two propellers, behind the wings, pushed the machine through the air. To guide the airplane in flight, the Wrights used a system of pulleys to control the rudders and warp the wings. (Moveable ailerons had to wait three years for Santos Dumont.)
The Wrights made four flights on December 17, 1903. Then they went back to Ohio to build a better airplane. During the next two years, they made a hundred and fifty eight flights. They were eventually staying aloft for over half an hour. Now the pilot was seated, and they'd added a passenger seat.
During 1906 and 1907, they only built, they didn't fly. They dickered with the US Army and foreign buyers. They couldn't convince the Army that flight was really possible until 1908. Then the Army finally signed a contract for the first military airplane.
While the who-was-first question wrongly dogs invention, the Wright Brothers justly do wear a crown -- but not for defining the instant when the airplane appeared. There are no such instants -- not for the light bulb, not for the computer, not for flight.
Both Wright Brothers had been serious tinkerers and builders from earliest childhood. And they'd first been drawn to flight in 1895. They began serious work on the airplane in 1899 and, ten years later, they were selling commercial airplanes in Europe and America. It was a very long haul and they were in it -- all the way from the dream, to the marketplace.
I'm John Lienhard, at the University of Houston, where we're interested in the way inventive minds work.(Theme music)
Wright, O., How We Invented the Airplane: An Illustrated History. (Edited, with an Introduction and Commentary, by Fred C. Kelly.) New York: Publications, Inc. 1953/1988.
For more information on the Santos Dumont airplane, see:
The Wright Brother's last glider in flight
Santos Dumont experimenting with his airplane in winter.
Who Invented the First Aeroplane?
The Wright brothers invented the first successful airplane in 1903. By 1902, Wilbur and Orville Wright had invented the first successful glider and were focused with designing and building the first airplane that could gain sustained flight.
In order to do this, the Wright brothers had to invent a propulsion system that would enable the airplane to sustain its flight. During the spring and summer of 1903, they tested numerous different ideas before finally successfully testing the first working airplane on December 17, 1903. At Kitty Hawk, N.C., the brothers completed four successful flights, marking a pivotal moment in the genesis of modern aeronautics.
Compared to today's engines, the Wright brothers had an extremely crude propulsion system that used four horizontal inline cylinders. It didn't use any fuel pumps, carburetors or spark plugs. It produced a mere 12 horsepower, which was actually four more horsepower than the brothers calculated they would need in order to successfully gain sustained flight.
Wrights’ First Flight Distorted by Press
The age of flight dawned on the morning of December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, NC when the Wright Brothers’ engine-driven heavier-than-air Flyer lifted into the air and traveled 120 feet in 12 seconds. It was an extraordinary moment. The way that the press handled the event was far less than extraordinary.
That afternoon, after eating a leisurely lunch, the brothers set out about 2 o’clock to walk the four miles to the weather station office in Kitty Hawk. They sent a telegram of their success to their 74-year-old father in Dayton, Ohio. Three months earlier, while seeing his sons off in Dayton, Bishop Wright had given them a dollar to cover the cost of sending a telegram as soon as they made a successful flight. Now was the time.
There was no Western Union in Kitty Hawk, but Jim Dosher at the weather station had agreed to communicate with the weather bureau office in Norfolk who in turn would contact Western Union.
Dosher, however, was unable to deliver the news because of a break in the telegraph line. He telephoned Alpheus Drinkwater at another location on the Outer Banks who transmitted the coded message of the Wright Brothers’ successful flight to Norfolk. Drinkwater later said he was bit annoyed that he had to relay a few unimportant telegrams to the mainland.
(Note: The accuracy of the last paragraph involving the role of Drinkwater is in some dispute among historians. On the occasion of the dedication of the Wright Memorial in 1932, Orville Wright was asked who sent the first message – Drinkwater or Dozier? Orville stated: “The first message was sent by W. J. Dozier.” – News and Observer, Nov. 20, 1932 )
Orville wrote the message that was sent as follows:
“Success four flights Thursday morning all against twenty one mile wind started from level with engine power alone average speed through air thirty one miles longest 57 seconds inform press home Christmas. Orvevelle Wright”
An error in transmission cut two seconds off the longest flight time of 59 seconds and Orville’s name was misspelled. The wind speed of 21 mph is confusing. What Orville meant to say is that the wind was at least 21 mph during each of the four flights. The first successful flight was against a 27-mph wind.
The Norfolk operator sent a return message asking if he could share the news with a reporter at the “Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.” The Wrights gave an emphatic no! They wanted the first news of the event to be from Dayton.
The Norfolk operator, Jim Gray, ignored the negative answer and provided the information to a friend, H. P. Moore, at the paper. Having little information other than that provided in the telegram, the “Virginian-Pilot” fabricated a fanciful and inaccurate story that was published the next morning with the headline:
“Flying Machine Soars 3 Miles in Teeth of High Wind Over Sand Hills and Waves at Kitty Hawk on Carolina Coast.”
They also offered the story to the Associated Press (AP) and when they declined the story, offered the story to twenty-one newspapers.
Meanwhile Orville’s telegram arrived at 5:25 that evening. The Wrights’ father, Milton Wright, instructed daughter Katharine to walk over to her brother Lorin’s house and ask him to take the telegram to the local newspaper office for publication.
Lorin went downtown to the offices of the “Dayton Journal” and spoke to Frank Tunison, local representative of the Associated Press. Tunison was unimpressed with the telegram saying, “If it had been 57 minutes then it might have been a news item.”
Two other Dayton papers did publish an account the next day in the afternoon editions. The account in “The Dayton Daily News” gave a reasonably accurate account except that it made a big mistake in indicating that the Wrights were imitators of the world famous Alberto Santos-Dumont. The headline read “DAYTON BOYS EMULATE GREAT SANTOS-DUMONT.”
Santos-Dumont was a Brazilian who pursued aviation in France. In 1901, he had dazzled the French public by rigging an engine to a hot-air balloon and flew around the Eiffel Tower. The Dayton news-editor didn’t recognize the vast difference between balloons and airplanes.
The account in “The Dayton Evening Herald” under the heading of “Dayton Boys Fly Airship,” was a 350-word rehash of the fabricated story that had earlier appeared in the “Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.” The AP, the day after the first flight, had sent out an abbreviated version of the Norfolk piece.
The story was full of errors. “The machine flew for three miles — and then gracefully descended to earth at a spot selected by the man in the navigator’s car —.” “Preparatory to flight the machine was placed on a platform on a high sand hill —.” “When the end of the incline was reached the machine gradually arose until it obtained an altitude of sixty feet —.” “There are two six-blade propellers, one arranged just below the frame so as to exert an upward force when in motion and the other extends horizontally to the rear from the center of the car, furnishing the forward impetus.” Orville had run around shouting, “Eureka!”
The Wrights, mystified how a short low-keyed message in a telegram could have gone so wrong, prepared a correct story on January 5th of their successful flights and gave it to the AP with a request that it be printed. It appeared in a majority of the AP newspapers the next day.
Exactly one month after the historic flight, the New York Herald still had it wrong and published an article showing a picture with two “six-bladed” propellers and an engine beneath the airplane to provide lift.
Wilbur and Orville gave no details about their airplane. It was their invention, developed at their own expense, and they did not yet intend to provide any pictures or detailed descriptions of their Flyer.
Wright Cycle Company
The Wright Brothers had become a product of a healthy learning habit inherited from their parents. They had grown in scientific understanding and strived to add value and make a fortune out of it. In 1892 they found a company, the Wright Cycle Company. Repairs, selling, and renting of bicycles were major business activities of the company.
On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur, the Wright Brothers, assembled their most ambitious plane, nicknamed the ‘Flyer I,’ on the sand on Kitty Hawk. The Flyer I weighed over 600 pounds and had an impressive wingspan of 40 feet.
The Wright Brothers knew that they had to get this test right with winter approaching, or else they would have to wait for many, many months of bad weather before they could try again. The brothers then flipped a coin to see who the first pilot will be. It turned out to be Orville.
Wilbur then guided the plane down the short wooden ramp with his brother at the controls, and raised it into the air. It stayed airborne for twelve seconds and flew just 120 feet, but Orville and Wilbur were ecstatic. Their plane did work! Both brothers had made successful flights by the end of the day, with Wilbur having reached a remarkable 852 feet in 59 seconds.
The Wright Brothers left Kitty Hawk that day having done the impossible. They did leave an indelible mark in the history of aviation, inspired by a father’s toy gift to his adorable children.
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