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In pictures: the Wright Brothers' album of early flying machines

The brothers, their friends and their family took hundreds of images of their pioneering efforts in human flight.

The 1900 Wright glider before installation of forward horizontal control surface, flying as a kite.
The 1900 Wright glider before installation of forward horizontal control surface, flying as a kite.
Image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

WRIGHT BROTHERS Orville and Wilbur, pioneers of human flight and air travel, took hundreds of images of their efforts to build the world’s first successful airplane.

In 1948, the brothers donated a collection of around 300 glass plate negatives to the US Library of Congress for its archives. Many of the images were captured by the brothers themselves between 1897 and 1928.

Here’s a selection of some of the photographs they, their friends and their family took of their experiments with various flying machines – including the crashes and disasters that happened along the journey to that first successful flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903:

In pictures: the Wright Brothers' album of early flying machines
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  • Wright Brothers

    Group portrait of Orville Wright with brother Lorin, nephew Horace and journalists in front of glider at Kill Devil Hill, Kitty Hawk. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Wright Brothers

    The Kitty Hawk lifesaving crew photographed in 1900. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Wright Brothers

    A photo from 1905 of Orville Wright aged 34. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Wright Brothers

    Orville Wright (left), Major John F Curry, and Colonel Charles Lindbergh, who visited Orville in Ohio on 22 June 1927. The visit came just one month after Lindbergh completed his solo non-stop flight from New York to Paris. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Wright Brothers

    Rear view of the Wright brothers' four-cylinder motor as installed in their 1903 airplane. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Wright Brothers

    1901: A glider aircraft flying as a kite near the ground with Wilbur on the left and Orville on the right. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Wright Brothers

    Wilbur Wright lying in a prone position in a damaged machine on the ground after an unsuccessful trial on 14 December, 1903. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Wright Brothers

    This photograph of Wilbur Wright was taken around age 38, 1905. It is one of the earliest published photographs of him. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Wright Brothers

    A crumpled glider photographed in October 1900 at the appropriately-named Hill of the Wreck in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Wright Brothers

    Orville Wright flying at a height of about 18 metres off the ground at Huffman Prairie in Dayton, Ohio in September 1905. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

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