Orville Wright was born at 7 Hawthorn Street in Dayton, Ohio on August 19, 1871 to Milton Wright and Susan Koerner Wright.  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 the toy. They also watched birds to see how they flew. Orville was quite the trouble-maker in school, getting expelled from grade school for a time. He made it to high school, but dropped out during his senior year.
Orville opened a print shop, using an old tombstone and parts from buggies. He printed a newspaper called "The West Side News". After realizing that the shop couldn't compete with larger newspapers, the Wright brothers decided to pursue the newest trend: bicycles. They started calling themselves the "Wright Brothers" at this time and opened their own bicycle shop. They used the money they earned from the bike shop to pay for expenses for their flying experiments.
The Wright brothers first venture into flying started with designing kites and manned-gliders to test aerodynamics. They decided to go to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to do their testing. It had better terrain for flying and was more remote, guarding the results of their pursuits. 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 successful tests, they decided to try powered flyers.
Their first powered, sustained flight was in 1903. Orville flew for 17 seconds! They realized the 700-pound flyer couldn't stay in the air beyond that time, though, so it was back to the drawing board. The next flight was Wilbur's, and he managed to stay up for more than five minutes. The aircraft was still very hard to keep under control, so they revised their design again.
In 1905, they finally got their first real airplane: The Wright Flyer. The brothers started taking passengers with them but that didn't last long. Orville crashed in late 1908 in Fort Meyer, Virginia. He survived with only a few injuries, including a broken leg. However, Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge was not as lucky and was killed in the accident. Orville rested and mended while Wilbur continued flying in France.
In 1910, Orville took Wilbur as his passenger. It was the only time the two flew together, having promised their father to reduce the risk of losing both his sons at once. They flew for six minutes together. Following that incident, Orville took his father up to 350 feet.
Upon Wilbur's death from typhoid in 1912, Orville inherited the whole of the Wright company. Not enjoying running the business, he sold the company in 1915, and he, Katherine, and their father, moved to Hawthorn Hill, Ohio. They moved into a mansion, a sign of their wealth at the time. Orville's last piloted flight was in 1918 before retiring.
Orville stopped speaking to his sister when she married in 1926 because he did not approve of her spouse. He only decided to speak to her again when she later fell ill.
In 1944, Orville took his last airplane ride, piloted by Howard Hughes. While riding he commented on the wingspan of the plane, which was longer than his first flight!
The year 1948 marked a second, and fatal heart attack for Orville. It occurred while he was fixing his doorbell on January 30, 1948 in Dayton, Ohio. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio.
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Orville is 16 degrees from Michael Collins, 20 degrees from Judith Resnik, 24 degrees from Ellison Onizuka, 33 degrees from Michael Phillip Anderson, 20 degrees from Sally Ride, 28 degrees from Wubbo Johannes Ockels, 21 degrees from Neil Armstrong, 19 degrees from Virgil Grissom, 18 degrees from Christa McAuliffe, 20 degrees from Dick Scobee, 18 degrees from Edward White and 24 degrees from Frances Piercy-Reins on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.
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