Impact of Wright Flyer


1908 Military test by Orville


Once the Wrights had established a contract with the Army Signal Corps, they had to instruct the new pilots. Historian Timothy Warnock notes, “Orville personally trained or oversaw the training on Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio, of at least 115 individuals.”1

The Kitty Hawk Flyer had a huge impact on American society and culture. The Wright brothers opened a flying school at Simms Station, Dayton, Ohio, where many trained to become pilots. In six years, the flight school produced 119 certified pilots. One notable graduate was Henry H. Arnold.2


Video: The Growth of Civil Aviation in the United States: 1918-1990’s”

Their planes attracted contracts from the armed forces.  The military’s use of planes in warfare changed the essence of combat.  All airplanes, commercial, military, or otherwise, evolved from the Kitty Hawk Flyer. There are numerous monuments throughout the United States commemorating the historic flight sites and honoring the achievements of Orville and Wilbur. Airplanes also appeared as toys and models.3

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National Monument at Kill Devil Hill, NC


Without the Wright brothers’ invention, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart would not have made their solo trans-Atlantic flights until much later. Aircraft would not have been as effective in the world wars, and jet and rocket engines would have been developed later as well. The Wright Flyer is also an antecedent to the space shuttle.4 The Wright brothers made powered flight possible. However, no one will ever know if humans would have been able to fly without the Wrights.

“In 1976, the Flyer was moved to the Smithsonian’s new Air and Space Museum, where it is today.”5

View Newspapers: Washington Times, New York Tribune, Richmond’s The Times Dispatch

Go to: Modern Aeronautics

  1. Timothy A. Warnock, “From Infant Technology to Obsolescence: The Wright Brothers’ Airplane in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, 1905-1915” Air Power History 49, no. 4 (Winter 2002): 52, (accessed February 7, 2011).
  2. Walt Burton and Owen Findsen, The Wright Brothers Legacy: Orville and Wilbur Wright and their Aeroplanes (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003), 142.
  3. Burton and Findsen, 213.
  4. U.S. Department of the Interior, First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane, by Tom Crouch (Washington, DC: National Park Service, 2002), 8-11.
  5. Burton and Findsen, 211.

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