What were the Wright Brothers doing BEFORE the first successful flight on Dec 17, 1903?
Both brothers appeared to be a bit of a "Renaissance Man." Back in 1878 when they were boys, they received a toy helicopter from their father made of cork, bamboo, paper, and a rubber band to twirl the blades. Many years later they stated that this had gotten them interested in flight, and they began to build models of their own. Soon their "research" turned to kites. As young men in 1889, they designed and built a printing press and began publishing a newspaper. In 1892 they opened a bicycle shop, and by 1896 they were making their own Wright Brothers brand of bicycles. About this time aviators were experimenting with gliders, and the Wrights began to experiment. Around 1900 they moved to Kitty Hawk, because the area had sufficient wind for them to conduct their research, which included studying kites and gliders. They also build a wind tunnel to evaluate wing surfaces, and finally got off the ground with power in December 1903.