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Wilbur Wright is best known for developing the first successful airplane with his brother, Orville.
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An extraordinary achievement, Wilbur flew the plane for 59 seconds at 852 feet.
The Wright brothers soon found that their success was not appreciated by all. Many in the press, as well as fellow flight experts, were reluctant to believe the brothers' claims at all. As a result, Wilbur set out for Europe in 1908, where he hoped he would have more success convincing the public and selling airplanes.
In France, Wilbur found a much more receptive audience. There, he made many public flights and gave rides to officials, journalists and statesmen. In 1909, Orville joined his brother in Europe, as did their younger sister, Katherine. The Wrights became huge celebrities there, hosted by royals and heads of state, and constantly featured in the press. The Wrights began to sell their airplanes in Europe, and then returned to the United States in 1909.
The brothers went on to become wealthy businessmen, filling contracts for airplanes in both Europe and the United States. Today, the Wright brothers are considered the "fathers of modern aviation."
Wilbur and Orville always took shared credit for their innovations, and maintained a close relationship throughout their lives. Behind the scenes, however, there was a division of labor. With his sharp instincts, Wilbur was the business mind and executive of the operation, serving as president of the Wright company.
Wilbur Wright fell ill on a trip to Boston in April 1912. Afte being diagnosed with typhoid fever, he died on May 30, 1912, at his family home in Dayton, Ohio.
Milton Wright wrote later about his son in his diary: "A short life, full of consequences. An unfailing intellect, imperturbable temper, great self-reliance and as great modesty, seeing the right clearly, pursuing it steadfastly, he lived and died."
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Born four years apart, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up in a small town in Ohio. They shared an intellectual curiosity and an aptitude for science, at a time when the possibility of human flight was beginning to look like a reality. Together, the Wright brothers developed the first successful airplane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina—and together they became national heroes. Considered the fathers of modern aviation, they developed innovative technology and inspired imaginations around the world.
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