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News of the Wrights’ feat was met with early skepticism. After funding a number of failed flying experiments, the United States government was reluctant to back their work. When Wilbur set sail for Europe, Orville headed to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate their flying machine in the hope of winning government and army contracts. In July 1909, Orville completed the demonstration flights for the U.S. Army, who had demanded a passenger seat be built in the plane. The Wright brothers sold the plane for $30,000.
Their extraordinary success led to contracts in Europe and the United States, and the Wright brothers became wealthy business owners. They started building a grand family home in Dayton, where they spent much of their childhood.
On May 25, 1910, Orville flew for six minutes-with Wilbur as his passenger. It was the first and only flight the brothers would make together. The same day, Orville took his 82-year-old father out, for the first and only flight of his life.
In 1912 Wilbur died of typhoid fever. Without his brother and business partner, Orville had to take on the presidency of the Wright company. Unlike his brother, though, he cared little for the business side of their work, and sold the company in 1915.
Later Life and Death
Orville spent the last three decades of his life serving on boards and committees related to aeronautics, including the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, predecessor to NASA. He cut off communication with his sister, Katherine, when she married in 1926. Neither Orville nor Wilbur ever married, and he was greatly upset by his sister’s choice. In 1929 he had to be persuaded to visit Katharine at her deathbed.
On January 30, 1948, Orville died after a second heart attack. He is buried at the Wright family plot in Dayton, Ohio.
Biography courtesy of Bio.com
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Lindbergh Flies Again (PDF)
Students will map the historic flight of Charles Lindbergh and interpret its historical significance.