|Wright Model A/Military Flyer|
|A replica Wright Military Flyer at the National Museum of the United States Air Force|
|Number built||c. 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 A's actually being produced in Germany by Flugmaschine Wright GmbH, which built about 60 examples.
The 1909 Military Flyer was a one-of-a-kind Model A built by the Wright Brothers. With wings shortened two feet, higher skid undercarriage 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 for the Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, which offered a contract of $25,000 ($753,981 in 2022 dollars) for an aircraft capable of flying at 40 miles per hour (64 km/h), with two people on board, and 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, and paid the brothers $30,000 ($904,778 in 2022 US dollars).
The aircraft were not referred to as 'Model A' by the Wrights, but the term was likely created by the U. S. Army after purchasing a Flyer of 1909 and purchasing later Model B's. At different times prior to 1909 the aircraft were called the following: 'Wilbur Wright machine', 'Wright 1905 Flyer', and by later surviving Wright pilots and personnel 'twin-propellered Wright with head' ('the head' referring to 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.
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.
Data from US Army Aircraft 1908-1946