This observation set the Wright brothers on the path to the world’s first flight. They saw an airplane as “a bicycle with wings.”
Why the Wright Brothers Flew First
Kevin Ashton
593

I want to share some thoughts about the similarities between the bike and the first airplane…

It isn’t a coincidence that the makers of the first planes were also expert bike builders. The Wright brothers approached their air travel machines like a bicycle. On a bike, the brilliance of the human is what allows the design to be so simple.

Bicycle balance is not a flaw that needs to be conquered with extra wheels or complex mechanical additions. Balance is an intuitive extension of the mind that once learned, becomes second nature.

In the Wright brothers’ first designs, the pilot’s harness was connected to the wings in a way that caused the wings to twist as his body moved right or left. The twisting of the wings allowed the plane to roll similar to how a bike turns as its rider leans into the turn. The same motion turned the plane right or left by turning the vertical rudder in the rear.

A horizontal elevator rudder in the front was controlled like pulling on the handlebars as if you were “popping a wheelie.” This full range of motion put them years, if not decades ahead of competitors who were struggling just to get off the ground.

Were the Wrights imitating birds? I guess, but I am not sure that is where the solution came from.

My comments above come from a chapter of Art of the Living Dead, which shares similar goals as How to Fly a Horse. Check it out for a complimentary point of view about creativity and invention. Cheers.

Like what you read? Give Adrian Hanft a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.