The machine that made the first successful flight in a heavier-than-air powered aircraft may be the most important airplane of all time. But don’t forget, the Wright Brothers achieved an unprecedented level of airmanship—and marketing—that went far beyond those first few minutes aloft on the beaches of Kitty Hawk.
The Wrights’ use of wing warping to achieve bank, in coordination with yaw from the rudder, allowed their craft to be properly controlled. This concept is still used on virtually every plane in the air today.
Not satisfied with being first in flight, the brothers spent many years unsuccessfully attempting to sell their invention, specifically to the U.S. and European governments as military vehicles.
They went on a public tour instead, and nearly five years after their first flight, Wilbur Wright became world famous overnight after a public showing at the flying field in LeMans, France, in 1908 before a very skeptical audience.
This performance inspired an aviation revolution across Western Europe that would lead to rapid advancement in the understanding and development of powered flying machines.