Wright Model A/Military Flyer
A replica Wright Military Flyer at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
Role Demonstrator/trainer
Manufacturer Wright Company
First flight 1908
Number built ca.60
Variants Wright Model B

The Wright Model A was an early aircraft produced by the Wright Brothers in the United States beginning in 1906. It was a development of their Flyer III airplane of 1905. The Wrights built about seven Model As in their bicycle shop during the period 1906–1907 in which they did no flying. One of these was shipped to Le Havre in 1907 in order to demonstrate it to the French. The Model A had a 35-horsepower (26 kW) engine and seating for two with a new control arrangement. Otherwise, it was identical to the 1905 airplane. The Model A was the first aircraft that they offered for sale, and the first aircraft design to enter serial production anywhere in the world. Apart from the seven machines the Wrights built themselves in 1906–1907, they sold licences for production in Europe with the largest number of Model As actually being produced in Germany by Flugmaschine Wright GmbH, which built about 60 examples.[1]

The 1909 Military Flyer was a one-of-a-kind Model A built by the Wright Brothers. With wings shortened two feet and the same engine salvaged from the 1908 Wright Military Flyer wrecked at Fort Myer, it differed from the standard Wright A in size and had a faster speed. The aircraft was demonstrated at Fort Myer, Virginia, beginning June 28, 1909[2] for the Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, which offered a contract of $25,000 ($720,093 in 2008 dollars[3]) for an aircraft capable of flying at 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) with two people on board for a distance of 125 miles (201 km). After rigorous trials the Signal Corps accepted the airplane as "Signal Corps (S.C.) No. 1", August 2, 1909,[2] and paid the brothers $30,000[4] ($864,111 in 2012 US dollars[3]).

Designation

The planes were not referred to as 'Model A' by the Wrights. The term by best accounts was created by the U. S. Army after purchasing their Flyer of 1909 and purchasing later Model Bs. At different times prior to 1909 they were called 'Wilbur Wright machine', 'Wright 1905 Flyer' and by later surviving Wright pilots and personnel 'twin-propellered Wright with head', the head meaning the front elevator. As more Wright models were built after 1910 their natural designations became B, C, D etc. to differentiate one model from the other. Later aviation historians and biographers continued with 'Model A' in providing a chronological timeline for each of the different model of Wright aircraft.

Individual control arrangement

Wilbur Wright flying a Model A in France 1909.
Wilbur Wright flying a Model A in France 1909.

Wilbur and Orville devised slightly different flight controls in the Model A airplanes they flew separately in France and the United States for their 1908 and 1909 public demonstrations. The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum refers to "The Wilbur Method" and "The Orville Method". In Wilbur's method, the roll and yaw controls were combined on the same lever at the pilot's right hand. A forward-backward movement controlled the rudder, while a sideways or left-and-right motion controlled wing-warping. In the Orville Method, moving the stick controlled wing-warping, while a knob atop the stick controlled the rudder. In both methods the left-hand lever operated the forward elevator to control pitch. Wilbur trained French and Italian pilots using his method, and Orville trained German pilots while in Germany in 1909 for the Wright GmbH as well as American pilots at the Wright Company flight school using his method.

Survivors

Orville Wright and Model A, Tempelhof Field, Berlin September 1909. This machine is now preserved in the Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany.
Orville Wright and Model A, Tempelhof Field, Berlin September 1909. This machine is now preserved in the Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany.

Reproductions

The 1908 Wright Military Flyer arrives at Fort Myer, Virginia aboard a wagon, attracting the attention of children and adults
The 1908 Wright Military Flyer arrives at Fort Myer, Virginia aboard a wagon, attracting the attention of children and adults

Operators

 United States of America

Specifications (Wright Military Flyer)

Data from US Army Aircraft 1908-1946[9]

General characteristics

Performance

See also

Related development

References

Notes
  1. ^ Das Flugzeug "Model A" von Wilbur und Orville Wright Archived 2013-11-04 at the Wayback Machine, Deutsches Museum (German) (shows German advert for Wright Flugmaschinen, flying lesson included with purchase) "In der in Johannisthal bei Berlin ansässigen Firma "Flugmaschine Wright GmbH" wurden Wright-Flugzeuge in Lizenz gebaut. Die im Herbst 1909 gegründete Firma war nach der Flugmaschinenfabrik von August Euler die zweite Flugzeugfabrik in Deutschland, in der Flugzeuge in Serie gefertigt wurden. Sie produzierte bis 1913 etwa 60 Wright-Doppeldecker verschiedener Versionen"
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Army Aircraft 1908-1946" by James C. Fahey, 1946, 64pp.
  3. ^ a b 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  4. ^ "On Great White Wings" by Fred E. C. Culick and Spencer Dunmore (Airlife Publishing Ltd. Shrewsbury, England, 2001, ISBN 1-84037-333-4), 176pp.
  5. ^ "United States Military Aircraft Since 1909" by F. G. Swanborough, 1964, 596 pp.
  6. ^ Michael Neufield and Alex Spencer. Smithsonian Air and Space Museum an Autobiography. p. 76.
  7. ^ "Wright Standard Type A, 1909". Deutsches Museum. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  8. ^ United States Air Force Museum (1975 edition)
  9. ^ Fahey, James C. (1946). US Army Aircraft. New York: Ships & Aircraft Ltd.
Bibliography