THE KNOWLEDGE MEDIA INSTITUTE

History of Flight

Key events

Flights of fancy

Models

Aerodynamics

How planes fly

Historical development

Aero-engines

Flyers

Cayley

Lilienthal

Phillips

The Wright Brothers

Santos-Dumont

Cody

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About FirstFlight

The Wright Brothers - experiments - bicycle balance

The elegant simplicity of the Wright Brother's balance experiments allowed them to quickly obtain accurate results. Riding around the streets of Dayton with the balance apparatus attached to the front of their bike must have caused some surprise to their neighbours, but led on to the eventual success at Kitty Hawk.


The aerofoil, based on one of Lilienthal's designs, should have balanced the flat plate at an angle of 5 degrees, but instead it had to be at 18 degrees. This explained why their gliders had not performed as well as they had expected.

A replica of the bicycle wheel balance, and the original cycle shop, can be found at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearbourn, Michigan, USA.

Or ride down a Dayton street and carry out the Wright Brother's experiment yourself!