Human factors of powered flight: the Wright brothers' contributions.


Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton, OH, not only were the first to fly a powered aircraft, but also pioneered many human factors considerations. While others tried to develop aircraft with a high degree of aerodynamic stability, the Wrights intentionally designed unstable aircraft with "cerebralized" control modeled on bird flight. During 1901-03, the brothers worked with large gliders at Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk, NC, to develop the first practical human-interactive controls for aircraft pitch, roll, and yaw. On December 17, 1903, they made four controlled, powered flights over the dunes at Kitty Hawk with their Wright Flyer. During the next 2 yr, the Wrights made numerous flights in the Wright Flyers II and III at Huffman Prairie near Dayton. They later developed practical in-flight control of engine power, plus an angle-of-attack sensor and stick-pusher that reduced pilot workload. The brothers' flight demonstrations in the U.S. and Europe during 1908-09 awakened the world to the new age of controlled flight. Orville was the first aviator to use a seat belt. He also introduced a rudder boost/trim control that gave the pilot greater control authority. The Wrights' flight training school in Dayton included a flight simulator of their own design. The Wrights patented their practical airplane and flight control concepts, many of which are still in use today.

Cite this paper

@article{Mohler2004HumanFO, title={Human factors of powered flight: the Wright brothers' contributions.}, author={Stanley R . Mohler}, journal={Aviation, space, and environmental medicine}, year={2004}, volume={75 2}, pages={184-8} }