Orville and Wilbur Wright - Creativity and Innovation
Orville (1871-1948) and Wilbur (1867-1912) Wright
American inventors of the aeroplane.
Their first human powered flight took place at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17,
Orville is pictured right and Wilbur below.
Why were they so creative?
1. Vision and challenge
They were obsessed with the dream of people flying, inspired by a flying toy, powered by rubber
bands, given to them by their father in 1878.
Their audacity and skill made their dream come true.
“I look with amazement upon our audacity in attempting flights with a new and untried machine”,
They found a solution to the problem of flying through:
a) passion for purpose
They were obsessed with the dream of flying that had foxed people for centuries (see point 1).
(see point 3)
They considered everything they needed to fly,
Other flying pioneers just concentrated on developing powerful
They developed a
The wind tunnel:
They learned from:
a) their bicycle shop
(in Dayton, Ohio, pictured right)
This gave them important design and engineering skills,
By the mid-1890’s, Wilbur was reading any book or research paper he could find about human flight.
c) aviators’ successes and failures
(particularly the crucial importance of pilot control from gliding pioneers like the
German, Otto Lilienthal, pictured right).
d) experience and observation
Birds taught them about turning through wing movement.
Valuable lessons were learned from a pilotless, powered flying machine with a 5 foot
wingspan, which they built in 1899 with wood, wire and cloth.
Their first historic flight is pictured - Wilbur is on the right and Orville the pilot.
This resulted from:
- years of hard work in their workshop.
- constant failure and disappointment.
- gliding experiments at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
They then built two other planes in 1904 and 1905 before gaining a patent on their design in 1906.
- had to sue other aviators who copied their ideas,
- fought hard for sales contracts with the American army and a French
- didn’t receive recognition until a public demonstration in 1908, when they became
world famous overnight.
- continued developing their aeroplane (despite
an accident soon after the public demonstration in which a passenger was killed and
Orville badly injured).
They were spurred on by the thrill of being the first people to fly.
Wilbur had the brains (a skating injury stopped him going to Yale University).
But Orville was the leader, pilot and driving force of the partnership.
Their bicycle shop employee, Charlie Taylor (pictured right), also became an important member
of their team, helping the brothers to build their first aircraft engine.
Key quotes on creativity (Orville
If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for
We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children
... to investigate what ever aroused curiosity