Wilbur and Orville Wright flew together only once.

  • Wright Brothers on craft
Wright Brothers on craft
Vintage_Space/ Alamy Stock Photo

The Wright brothers made aviation history on December 17, 1903, as Orville Wright piloted the groundbreaking Wright Flyer aircraft for the world’s first powered flight while Wilbur Wright ran alongside. This event marked one of many instances where one brother took to the skies while the other remained on land, as the pair flew in an aircraft together only once. It was a conscious decision stemming from a promise that Orville and Wilbur made to their father, Milton Wright, vowing to never fly together because of the risk of a plane crash. The safety measure also ensured that if one suffered an accident, the other could continue their pioneering aeronautical work. Such an incident nearly occurred on September 17, 1908, during the world’s first fatal plane crash. With Orville at the helm, the flight tragically claimed the life of a passenger on board, U.S. Army Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge, though Orville survived the ordeal.

On May 25, 1910, the Wright brothers flew together for the first and only time in their lives. That day, Milton Wright permitted his sons to conduct a six-minute flight together near Dayton, Ohio. With Orville piloting the plane and Wilbur as his passenger, the duo ascended into the sky and landed without issue. Orville then took his 81-year-old father aboard the plane for the first and only flight of the patriarch’s life; as the plane gained elevation, Milton excitedly shouted, “Higher, Orville, higher!” 

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