While most people know that the first airplane was invented by the Wright brothers, they may not know that there were many other individuals that contributed to the design of the first aircrafts. Prior to the Wright brothers there were those who had experimented with the composition of wings for planes. Otto Lilienthal, for instance, had worked on wing design and built a monoplane glider and a biplane glider during the 1800s. Unfortunately, he crashed and died during one the flights, but his work, as well as that of others, did inspire the Wright brothers in later years.
Before the end of the 19th century, steam had been the choice for trying to power an aircraft. However, the invention of the internal combustion engine was a major development in technology by the end of the 1800s. The Wright brothers recognized that internal combustion engines could potentially be used to power a small aircraft, especially if the engine was small enough to be incorporated into the design of the aircraft. The Wright brothers did eventually build an engine into one of their airplanes to make the first successful sustained flight by an aircraft in 1903.
The Wright brothers also realized that the wing design needed much more attention and they created, built and experimented to perfect a wing that could maintain altitude. By 1902 they had crafted the Wright glider which was a culmination of their extensive research on how to design an effective wing. The brothers were the first individuals to actually develop a small functional airplane and their initial efforts and hard work led to the machines we now have today. Without a doubt, their persistent efforts propelled the development of flight as we know it.
By 1906, the Europeans also became interested in designing airplanes and Romanian inventor Truaian Vuia was able to fly up to 24m in a self-designed flight machine. He not only created an aircraft with fixed wings but made sure to add wheels underneath for a safer landing; this was a huge development in the field. A few years later in Denmark, Jacob Hellemeyer invented a monoplane and with every subsequent innovation, improvements were added.
The first aircraft that was constructed of metal was made in 1914 in Romania and was known as the Viacu III. Next came mass produced aircrafts in 1907. Santos Dumont designed the Demoiselle in which ailerons were added. It was an important addition to the wings of the airplane, capable of assisting with the control of sideways movement and thus providing much needed stability. The Demoiselle could be manufactured in just over two weeks which meant several could be ordered and made within a reasonable amount of time. Before long, airplanes were being designed and built for military use during World War I and World War II and much of the advancement from these models has been developed for more modern, commercial air craft. In the years since, designs have continued to improve and small aircrafts have become a safe and enjoyable option for travel among far larger numbers of people worldwide.