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Wright Brothers' Flying Machine

Program Overview

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Wright Flyer NOVA presents the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright, who invented the first powered airplane to achieve sustained, controlled flight.

The program:

  • chronicles the brothers' lives, from their first job running a bike shop to their invention of the airplane.

  • relates the duo's avid pursuit of manned flight and their tenacious resolve to develop a workable aircraft, despite their lack of formal engineering training.

  • shows how the Wright brothers obtained information about experiments by previous innovators, yet rejected key data when it conflicted with the results of their own tests.

  • looks at the obstacles to manned flight that the brothers tackled, mainly the problem of maintaining control of the airplane in flight.

  • explains how lift occurs with an airfoil.

  • describes the first powered flight of the Wright brothers on December 17, 1903, and looks at improvements the brothers made to their first design.

  • discusses the measures the brothers took to protect their invention and keep their designs secret.

  • follows a modern-day team building and flying reproductions of the Wright brothers' gliders and powered planes.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Wright Brothers' Flying Machine
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