Wright brothers, name of two U.S. inventors; designers and builders of the world's first successful airplane (1903). Inspired by the work of Otto Lilienthal, who did pioneering work with gliders in the 1890s, the Wrights, Wilbur (1867–1912) and Orville (1871–1948), conducted experiments with kites and gliders (1899–1902) to develop and test theories of control and lift. Their powered airplane was first tested Dec. 17,1903, at Kill Devil Hill, near Kitty Hawk, N.C. The machine weighed 750 lb (340 kg), with wings 40 ft (12 m) long. The Wrights continued experimental flights, receiving little attention in the United States but arranging for production of planes in France and Germany. After Wilbur Wright's death, his brother continued work to perfect the airplane. The Wrights were elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Their original plane is now exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
See also: Airplane.