Orville Wright

Orville Wright (1871 - 1948)

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Mr Orville Wright
Born in Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United Statesmap
Profile last modified 4 Jan 2020 | Created 14 Nov 2008
This page has been accessed 26,070 times.
Notables Project
Orville Wright is Notable.


Orville Wright was born at 7 Hawthorn Street in Dayton, Ohio in the year of 1871. His sister Katherine was born on his birthday, exactly three years later. In 1878 the Wright family moved to Iowa, but returned to 7 Hawthorn Street in 1885.

As a boy Orville became interested in flying after receiving a flying top from his father. He and his brother, Wilbur, built replicas of this toy. They would also watch birds to see how they managed flying.

Orville was quite the trouble-maker in school, even getting expelled from grade school for a time. He did make it to high school, but dropped out in his senior year. He opened up a printing shop, using an old tombstone and parts from buggies. He printed a newspaper called The West Side News.

After realizing that they couldn't compete with larger newspapers, they decided to join the new popular thing: bicycles. They started calling themselves the "Wright Brothers" at this time and opened a bicycle shop. They used the money they earned in this endeavor to pay for expenses for flying experiments.

The brothers started designing kites and manned-gliders to test for aerodynamics. They decided to go to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to do their testing. It has a better terrain for flying and is more remote.

Their first few gliders had many problems, but they didn't give up. They looked at everything objectively, and kept making adjustments to their plans. They found that adding a movable tail to the glider would make handling easier, and prevent crashing. After testing it, they decided to try powered flyers.

The first powered, sustained flight was in 1903. Orville flew for 17 seconds! After this, they realized the 700-pound flyer couldn't stay in the air. Back to the drawing board.

The next flight was Wilbur's, and he managed to stay up for more than five minutes. It was still very hard to keep under control, so they tried again.

In 1905, they finally got the first real airplane. The Wright Flyer.

They started taking passengers with them, but in late 1908 Orville crashed in Fort Meyer, Virginia. He survived with a few injuries, including a broken leg. However, Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge was not as lucky. Orville rested and mended while Wilbur continued flying in France.

In 1910 Orville took his brother Wilbur as his passenger. It was the only time the two flew together, having promised their father to take away the risk of losing both his sons at once. They flew for 6-minutes together. After that, Orville took his father up to 350 feet.

Upon Wilbur's death from Typhoid in 1912, Orville inherited the Wright company. Not liking business, he sold the company in 1915, and he, Katherine, and their father, moved to Hawthorn Hill, Ohio. They moves into a mansion, being that they were now wealthy. Orville's last piloted flight was in 1918 before retiring.

Orville stopped speaking to his sister when she married in 1926 not approving of the union. He only decided to speak to her again when she fell ill.

In 1944 Orville took his last airplane ride, piloted by Howard Hughes. While riding he commented on the wingspan of the plane. It was longer than his first flight!

1948 marked Orville's second, and fatal, heart attack. It occurred while he was fixing his doorbell.

(Can anyone elaborate more on the Smithsonian feud or patent war? Those are things I don't know much about, but kept seeing referenced in my reading.)


  • "Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2011. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.
  • US Federal Census; Year: 1880; Census Place: Cedar Rapids, Linn, Iowa; Roll: 351; Family History Film: 1254351; Page: 53A; Enumeration District: 255; Image: 0108 (Ancestry.com link)
  • US Federal Census; Year: 1900; Census Place: Dayton Ward 5, Montgomery, Ohio; Roll: 1307; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0054; FHL microfilm: 1241307 (Ancestry.com)
  • US Federal Census; Year: 1910; Census Place: Dayton Ward 5, Montgomery, Ohio; Roll: T624_1217; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0080; FHL microfilm: 1375230 (Ancestry.com link)
  • Meltzer, Brad, Heroes For My Son, pgs 2-3, Harper Collins Publishing

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Comments: 5

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I am a direct descendant of Samuel Wright who was born 1614 who is also an ancestor of Orville Wright. I could provide the Wright family tree but not sure where best to post it?
posted by Alan Cooke
I went to Orville Wright Elementary school and Wilbur Wright High School in Dayton Ohio.
posted by Martha Garrett
This profile is the
WikiPick of the Day!
Could we make this profile privacy Green instead of Red (private) please? I'm related through a common ancestor in the 1600's, I and many others would like to be able to show that relationship. I've had a merge/trusted list request for his ancestors open for a while now. His father Milton Wright-6518 has a merge request that is 5 years old. Thanks Bob Fields.
posted by Bob Fields

Orville is 19 degrees from Donald Howard, 14 degrees from Julia Howe and 16 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.