Wright BrothersWright BrothersWright Brothers

  • Issue: February 2003
  • Designer: Ad Vanooijen
  • Stamp Size: 40 mm x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 500 (on phosphor bars), 501, 502 (one phosphor bars)
  • Sheet of 10 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: offset

References to the dream of flying can be found in ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology. In mythology, aviation is perceived as divine and impossible for human beings. The mythological legend of Daedalus and Icarus was the first to relate to man's flight. The tragic end of the tale emphasizes what man is to expect if he tries to imitate the gods.

For ages " tower jumpers" attempted without success to imitate birds by jumping off high places and flapping artificial wings that were attached to their arms. A more "scientific" approach was apparent during the Renaissance period and various mechanical tools and systems were developed for the purpose of moving the wings whilst using the full potential of the body muscles. Leonardo di Vinci's (1452-1519) plans of a flying machine are an example. This approach however failed.

Sir George Cayley (1773-1857) was the first to understand the forces of aerodynamics and designed a flying machine with a body and fixed wings.

Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896), engineer (most probably Jewish) from Germany, designed and built a series of gliders and held more than 2,500 successful flights. The Wright brothers, Wilbur (1867-1912) and Orville (1871-1948) were inspired by Lilienthal's flights and Lilienthal's book was a basis for the beginning of their career. In 1899 Wilbur introduced the idea of achieving a lateral controlled flying machine by warping the wings. The Wright brothers successfully developed this idea and from September 1900 successfully flew this machine as a kite and also as a free-glider.

The Wrights built a wind tunnel to research into different airfoils and wing models and in 1902 they .used the test results to build a new glider. During this year they held approximately 1000 glides and gained much experience in flying gliders and looked into possibilities of motorized flight. After they were unable to get any of the leading motor manufacturers of that time to develop a motor, they designed and planned a light motor, slightly more than 12 horsepower and also developed on their own an effective propeller which managed to supply the necessary thrust for flight.

On 14 December 1903 Wilbur tried to fly the first motorized flying machine, The Wright Flyer, but the machine stalled after take-off. On 17 December at 10.35.am Orville flew the flying machine, it reached a height of 10 feet (approximately 3 meters), had a duration of about 12 seconds and covered a distance of 120 feet (approximately 36 meters).

This flight, that took place at Kill Devil Hill, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA, was the first successful manned, motorized and controlled flight in a heavier-than-air machine in history.

The Wright brothers fulfilled man's dream of flying and enabled man to conquer other worlds. 66 years later man landed on the moon.

Rami Skaldman
Secretary Israeli Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics

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The Wright Brothers' Flight, 1903