Educators Smithsonian Education
The Wright Brothers
Lesson Plan
Preparation - Background on Virginian-Pilot Story - Activity Steps - Assesment and Enrichment

Group C: Letter

Letter from Bishop Milton Wright to a journalist,
December 22, 1903

My sons Wilbur and Orville are expected under the parental roof—always their home—within a few days. . . . The Norfolk dispatch was evidently a friendly, though incorrect report.  My sons say their four successful flights . . . were “from the level.”  There are two screw propellers directly behind the double-decked aeroplane and none under it for uplifting it.  To get under headway they laid a single-rail track straight down the hill, but began flight from the level.  Their progress was ten miles per hour against a twenty-one-mile wind; hence counting still air, their flight was 31 miles an hour.  I do not know the distance of each several flight, but from the time maximum, of 57 seconds, no one flight could have exceeded a thousand feet.  All reported as to what Orville or Wilbur said is not so unlikely, but probably mythical.  The height of ascent I do not know, but certainly they aimed it should not be above about thirty feet.  The engine is not for ballast, nor has the aviator any car at all “in the center of the frame.”  The “push upward” is a myth.  There is a rudder in the front and a vertical tail in the rear, and other important regulating devices.  The total area of the wings is 510 feet, the fore-and-aft dimension of the whole machine is about 20 ft.

P.S.  Wilbur is 36, Orville 32, and they are as inseparable as twins.  For several years they have read up on aeronautics as a physician would read his books, and they have studied, discussed, and experimented together.  Natural workmen, they have invented, constructed, and operated their gliders, and finally their “Wright Flyer,” jointly, all at their own personal expense.  About equal credit is due each.

Required Materials

Graphic Organizer

Group A: Diary

Group B: Telegram

Group C: Letter

Group D: Interview

Group E: Magazine

Entire Class: Newspaper

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