How advanced an airplane did the Wright brothers get to see?

How advanced an airplane did the Wright brothers get to see before their death?

Wilbur died in 1912, so he got to see some pretty decent stuff made by foreigners flouting his and Orville’s aileron patent (that kept American development pretty tightly limited). Orville made it to 1948, through WW2 and into the early jet age.

Cool bit of trivia:

I’m surprised I can’t find any interviews with Orville on YouTube. Surely someone in the 30s or 40s got him on camera…

Orville kept pretty much to himself after the deaths of his brother and of several close friends who were flying the Model C he designed, and his sister Katherine left the home to marry (he never did, and neither did Wilbur). Orville wasn’t exactly a recluse, but he was about as public as Neil Armstrong is today.

My father, as a small boy, got to shake Orville’s hand at a county fair he was attending with Charles Kettering.

It’s sad when you think that Orville lived to see airplanes firebomb Dresden and drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Why would that be sad?

Are you kidding? If you invented something that contributed directly to the destruction of great art and millions of human lives, wouldn’t that be a least a little less than fluffy-bunny-giggly happy? Even if you believed it was for a greater good? At least the inventors of the atomic bomb were aware of what it was for; I doubt if the Wright brothers foresaw the airplane as a weapon of war (though perhaps they did; it would not have been a huge leap of the imagination).

the Wright brothers did market their plane to the military as soon as it was practical, though they were not much more than observation platforms at the time.

Yep, Alberto Santos-Dumont (who claimed to be the first man to fly an airplane) got so depressed over the militarization of the air, that he killed himself.
Really, it must have been very disillusioning for inventors and scientists, in the world of 1914-they had thought that mankind was entering a new age of prosperty (brought about by modern science and engineering).
What they got instead, was the horror of WW1. :eek:

My mother, who was born in 1913, got to meet Orville at an air show in Cleveland. There had been an art contest, and the two winners would eventually become my parents (both of whom became artists). The prize for the first two winners was a plane ride . . . very much of a novelty back then. My paternal grandmother wouldn’t let my father go.

[mod note]
This is a GQ thread. Don’t try to turn it into a political/social debate.
[/mod note]

What? Seriously? It isn’t on topic to point out that one of the Wright brothers lived to see a war where air combat was an important factor? Jeez.

The fact that you chose the examples you did (Dresden and Hiroshima) instead of, say, Coventry and Pearl Harbor, shows that you were trying to make a political statement and not just provide information.

Well, I imagine it would have been a hell of a thing to invent airplanes and see Pearl Harbor or the Blitz too. I wasn’t making a political point and wasn’t aware that “war sucks” was a controversial position.


That was a cool, if not tear jerking (in a good way) bit of trivia.

Just imagine, with just a bit of good luck and a bit of compression on the timeline, the Wrights could have lived to see manned space flight.

I would watch that movie! What a nice story.

Any chance the art survives, or is it rather standard little kid stuff?

I’ve seen a picture of Orville Wright and Curtis Lemay looking at jet fighter. I can’t Google it, but I did find these

When my brother and I built the first man-carrying flying machine we thought that we were introducing into the world an invention which would make further wars practically impossible.

— Orville Wright, 1917.

I feel about the airplane much as I do in regard to fire. That is, I regret all the terrible damage caused by fire. But I think it is good for the human race that someone discovered how to start fires, and that it is possible to put fire to thousands of important uses.

— Orville Wright, asked during WWII if he ever regretted being involved in the invention of the airplane.

Just how cool is that?

I had heard about Orville flying in the Constellation, and always enjoyed the thought of it.

Along these same lines, Charles Lindbergh saw a great deal of early aviation and did get to see manned spaceflight. I have a biography with a photo of him in some sort of modern (at the time) aircraft, and it’s amazing to note the differences between it and the Spirt of St. Louis. I often think how the little hand-held GPS that I fly with could have changed the course of the world in an earlier age.