Did you know August 8, 1908 was the first Wright brothers’ flight in Europe? It came after two years where the Wright brothers hadn’t flown at all, as they were busy nailing down patents and finding customers for their history changing invention. Some other fledgling aviators gained a bit of notoriety during this time, and it seemed the world did not quite appreciate what the Wright brothers had done and were continuing to do. It was time to show the world.
Wilbur piloted the first European flight at Hunaudieres Race Course at Le Mans, southwest of Paris, France. He had actually arrived in France in May, but the airplane shipped ahead of him had been damaged in transit. He spent two challenging months repairing the plane. During this time there was still some skepticism about the Wright planes. You know the old saying, “Seeing is believing.”
When the plane was finally ready, a French aviator summed up how impressive Wilbur’s flight was by simply saying, “We are beaten.” The skeptics were silenced and the Wright brothers’ claims were confirmed. The plane Wilbur flew that day was a reworking of the Wright’s 1905 Flyer and would later become known as the Wright Model A. The plane saw a lot of Europe over the next year, completing more than 200 flights in France, Germany, and Italy. The flights were often witnessed by royalty, artists, poets, writers and other literati of the day.
Orville joined Wilbur, who had become an overnight global celebrity after the first European flight, in Pau, France the following year. The brothers would spend 1909 continuing to do demonstrations in Europe and the U.S. During this time they also trained students and military pilots, and secured military contracts for their planes. Another first occurred in Italy when the first motion picture footage was filmed from a Wright plane.
We’re proud to advance the Wright brothers’ legacy and invite you to join us and “Invent yourself.”