The First Flight

    The drawing below is the only known diagram of the 1903 Flyer. It was drawn by the Wright Brothers using pencil on brown paper. (In preparing this digital image for presentation on the web, light was added to allow better viewing.) There are three views on the paper. The top view is a "bird's-eye" view looking down onto the Flyer. (Imagine the bird's reaction upon first seeing humans in sustained flight!) The second view is a side view. At the bottom is a straight-on view of the Flyer, with the circles indicating the propellers' range.

    Some technical specifications for the Flyer:

    • gasoline-powered engine weighed 179 pounds, delivered 12 horsepower
    • 2 propellers, each 8.5 feet in diameter
    • propeller made of 3 layers of 1 1/8 inch spruce, glued together, shaped with hatchet and drawshave
    • wingspan = 40 feet, 4 inches
    • chord = 6 feet, 6 inches
    • wing camber = 1:20
    • total wing area = 510 square feet
    • horizontal forward rudder = 48 square feet
    • distance from nose to tail = 21 feet, 1 inch
    • unmanned weight = 605 pounds (including engine, propellers, and chain drive)
    • wing skeleton covered with white French sateen fabric
    • propeller shafts made of steel

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