Orville Wright, left, pioneered flight in the United States. Here, Wright watches a test flight at McCook Field--soon replaced by Wright Field--in Dayton, Ohio.

Photograph by U.S. Army Air Corps, courtesy National Geographic

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  • On August 19, 1871, Orville Wright was born in Dayton, Ohio. With his older brother Wilbur, Orville created the first flying machine that was heavier than air, self-propelled, and controllable. The Wrights' airplanes were distinguished by their unique three-axis control system, which is still used in nearly all airplanes today. The system is like a steering wheel, but the pilot pulls to go up (ascend), and pushes to go down (descend). 

    The first planes were used for utility work, like postal delivery to remote areas. As the Wrights and others built larger and faster models, modern uses like passenger travel and cargo delivery became more common.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    axis Noun

    an invisible line around which an object spins.

    Encyclopedic Entry: axis
    cargo Noun

    goods carried by a ship, plane, or other vehicle.

    remote Adjective

    distant or far away.

    travel Noun

    movement from one place to another.

    unique Adjective

    one of a kind.