Wright Flyer III
The Wright Flyer III was the third powered aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 built by the Wright Brothers
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

. Orville Wright made the first flight with it on June 23, 1905. The Flyer III had an airframe of spruce construction with a wing camber
Camber (aerodynamics)
Camber, in aeronautics and aeronautical engineering, is the asymmetry between the top and the bottom surfaces of an aerofoil. An aerofoil that is not cambered is called a symmetric aerofoil...

 of 1-in-20 as used in 1903, rather than the less effective 1-in-25 used in 1904. The new machine was equipped with the engine and other hardware from the scrapped Flyer II
Wright Flyer II
The Flyer II was the second powered aircraft built by Wilbur and Orville Wright, in 1904. The design of the Flyer II was very similar to the original 1903 Flyer, but with a slightly more powerful engine and construction using white pine instead of the spruce they used in the 1903 machine as well as...

 and was essentially the same design and same performance as Flyers I and II.


Orville suffered a serious nose-dive crash in the Flyer on July 14, 1905. When rebuilding the airplane, the Wrights made important design changes. They almost doubled the size of the elevator
Elevator (aircraft)
Elevators are flight control surfaces, usually at the rear of an aircraft, which control the aircraft's orientation by changing the pitch of the aircraft, and so also the angle of attack of the wing. In simplified terms, they make the aircraft nose-up or nose-down...

 and rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

 and moved them about twice the distance from the wing
A wing is an appendage with a surface that produces lift for flight or propulsion through the atmosphere, or through another gaseous or liquid fluid...

s. They added two fixed half-moon shaped vertical vanes (called "blinkers") between the elevators (but later removed) and widened the skid-undercarriage which helped give the wings a very slight dihedral. They disconnected the rudder of the rebuilt Flyer III from the wing-warping control, and as in most future aircraft, placed it on a separate control handle. They also installed a larger fuel tank and mounted two radiators on front and back struts for extra coolant to the engine for the anticipated lengthy duration flights. When testing of Flyer III resumed in September, improvement was obvious. The pitch
Flight dynamics
Flight dynamics is the science of air vehicle orientation and control in three dimensions. The three critical flight dynamics parameters are the angles of rotation in three dimensions about the vehicle's center of mass, known as pitch, roll and yaw .Aerospace engineers develop control systems for...

 instability that had hampered Flyers I and II was brought under control. Crashes, some severe, stopped. Flights with the redesigned aircraft started lasting over 20 minutes. The Flyer III became practical and dependable, flying reliably for significant durations and bringing its pilot back to the starting point safely and landing without damage.

On October 5, 1905, Wilbur flew 24 miles (38.9 km) in 39 minutes 23 seconds, longer than the total duration of all the flights of 1903
1903 in aviation
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1903:-January:*1 January – Konstantin Tsiolkovski deduces the Basic Rocket Equation in his article Explorations of outer space with the help of reaction apparatuses.-February:...

 and 1904
1904 in aviation
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1904:-February:*Before the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War, the Imperial Russian Navy conducts many experiments with towing balloons and man-lifting kites from its warships.-April:...

. Four days later, they wrote to the United States Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States...

, offering to sell the world's first practical fixed-wing aircraft.

Flying at Kill Devil Hills

To keep their knowledge from falling into competitors' hands, the Wrights stopped flying and disassembled the airplane on November 7, 1905. Two and a half years later, having won American and French contracts to sell their airplane, they refurbished the Flyer with seats for a pilot and passenger and equipped it with upright control levers and installed one of their new 35 horsepower in-line vertical engines. They shipped it to North Carolina and made practice flights near the Kill Devil Hills from May 6 to 14, 1908 to test the new controls and the Flyer's passenger-carrying abilities. On May 14, 1908 Wilbur took up mechanic Charles Furnas
Charles Furnas
Charles W. Furnas was born in West Milton, Miami County, Ohio, the second son of Tanzy and Elizabeth Furnas. He is chiefly remembered for his work as a mechanic for the Wright Company and for being the world's first aeroplane passenger...

, making Furnas the first passenger the brothers ever flew. Orville also flew with Furnas for four minutes. Orville's flight with Furnas was seen by newspaper reporters, hiding out in the sand dunes, who mistakenly thought both Wilbur & Orville were flying together. Later that day, Wilbur was flying solo when he moved one of the new control levers the wrong way and crashed into a sand dune, suffering bruises. The Flyer's front elevator was wrecked and the practice flights ended.


  • The Wright Flyer III was left in the North Carolina hangar unrepaired. In 1911 the Berkshire Museum
    Berkshire Museum
    The Berkshire Museum is a museum of natural history, art and ancient civilization that is located in Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States....

     of Pittsfield, Massachusetts
    Pittsfield, Massachusetts
    Pittsfield is the largest city and the county seat of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is the principal city of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Berkshire County. Its area code is 413. Its ZIP code is 01201...

     obtained virtually all of the components from both the abandoned Flyer and the 1911 Wright glider, but never assembled or exhibited them. The parts of the 1905 aircraft remained in Massachusetts for almost forty years, until Orville requested their return in 1946 for the Flyer's restoration as a central exhibit at Edward A. Deeds
    Edward A. Deeds
    Edward Andrew Deeds was an American engineer, inventor and industrialist prominent in the Dayton, Ohio area.-Biography:...

    ' Carillon Park
    Carillon Historical Park
    Carillon Historical Park is a 65-acre park and museum in Dayton, Ohio, which contains historic buildings and exhibits concerning the history of technology and the history of Dayton and its residents from 1796 to the present. The historical elements of the park were the brainchild of Colonel...

     in Dayton, Ohio
    Dayton, Ohio
    Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

    . Some Kitty Hawk residents also possessed pieces of the 1905 airplane; Deeds and Orville also obtained many of these for the restoration. At the end of the 1947-1950 restoration process, craftsmen estimated that the 1905 aircraft retained between 60 and 85% of its original material. The 1905 airplane is now displayed in the Wright Brothers Aviation Center at Carillon Historical Park. The aircraft and display are part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
    Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
    thumb|left|200 px|The Wright Flyer III, now in Carillon Historical Park, shown being flown by Orville Wright on October 4, 1905, over [[Huffman Prairie]] near Dayton...

    . The restored 1905 Wright Flyer III is the only fixed-wing aircraft to be designated a National Historic Landmark
    National Historic Landmark
    A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...


Found artifact

A historic missing piece of Flyer III, thought to be a piece of Flyer I, turned up in 2010 in the hands of Palmer Wood whose uncle, Thomas, had given him the piece in the 1960s. Wood took the piece to Brian Coughlin, an aircraft collector, who not knowing what the piece was took it to Peter Jakab of the Smithsonian Institution. The missing piece is the actuator
An actuator is a type of motor for moving or controlling a mechanism or system. It is operated by a source of energy, usually in the form of an electric current, hydraulic fluid pressure or pneumatic pressure, and converts that energy into some kind of motion. An actuator is the mechanism by which...

, that connects the moment chain or arm(the Wrights still used chain link in 1905) to the front canard. In the 1940s Orville gathered all of the stray pieces of the Flyer, that were not in Massachusetts, from Kitty Hawk locals who as children raided the Wrights 1908 hangar for souvenirs. The actuator piece, which more than likely broke away in Wilbur's sand dune crash of May 14, 1908, somehow missed Orville's gathering efforts and was replaced with a solid or flanged piece which the Wrights did not start using until 1908. According to Peter Jakab the flanged piece is not accurate to the 1905 configuration of the Flyer III. The Wrights in 1905 used a wood assembly joined together by small flat plates and screws. The solid flat piece now on the Flyer was substituted in the 1947-50 restoration for the missing actuator.

Specifications (Flyer III)

See also

External links

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