When I was in first grade I was told it was the Wright brothers who invented the airplane and I still find their names on the first page of Google. But I have heard of an Indian who invented the airplane eight years before Wright brothers first unmanned airplane in 1895. and he was successful flying in the air and landing perfectly on the ground. So I am confused who invented the airplane?

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    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airplane#Antecedents sets it out pretty simply. It seems to me that the wright brothers made the first flight, but not the first plane.
    – Kobunite
    Jan 28 '15 at 10:21
  • @Kobunite not the first flight, they were preceded by a number of people in the 19th Century. The first flight by a powered controllable (to an extent) aerodyne maybe .. Jan 28 '15 at 10:34
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    @CY5 all scientific discoveries/inventions rest on earlier science. Everyone draws from earlier thinkers. We could go back to Leonardo's drawings. But the idea of an "Airplane" as a manned flying machine capable of carrying humans- I think it is quite clear where the credit is due.
    – Rajib
    Jan 28 '15 at 13:30
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    The Wikipedia article does imply that Talpade's flights were apocryphal. The skepticism is all justified by the third reference in the article, a study by Indian scientists. The study has diagrams of the flying machines . . . and they don't look aerodynamic.
    – two sheds
    Jan 28 '15 at 14:16
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    And also the Wiki article says "The technical basis of the Vedic Ion Design which was supposedly used by Talpade has been deprecated by research". The correct word should be "debunked" not "deprecated". The Pdf is available online. Its just mumbo-jumbo if there was ever a theory.
    – Rajib
    Jan 28 '15 at 14:19

You need to research George Cayley who worked out the principles of modern aircraft in the first decades of the 19th Century, and flew heavier than air gliders by mid century.

But that should not detract from the real achievements of the Wright Brothers in constructing prototypes of practical heavier than air flying machines. Heavier than air flight by the beginning of the 20th Century was in the air (so to speak).

  • And also Otto Lilienthal, who was flying gliders in the 1890s: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Lilienthal The Wright brothers' achievement was to make powered flight - Cayley didn't have light enough engines.
    – jamesqf
    Jan 28 '15 at 18:32
  • The Wright Brothers achievement was "controlled flight", and then the first controlled powered flight. People had been flying gliders since before Christ and several had tried powered flight even claiming successful powered flight, yet devoid of any control. The Wright brothers figured out how to steer right left, up and down, which nobody else did. Then they adopted that method achieved with gliders for powered flight.
    – user27618
    Jul 17 '18 at 17:44
  • People who put a caveat on the Wright Brothers being the first powered flight, like the Smithsonian Institute are trying to hollow out a place in history for folks who achieved nothing. Like their curator Peirpont Langley. Who's plane flew several times for a few seconds each time, spiraling into the river below the cliffs it was launched from. I believe the Wright Brothers did create the first powered airplane. I give nothing beyond a footnote to folks who nailed a few boards together and jumped off a cliff just because they survived, uncontrolled decent. Often they didn't
    – user27618
    Jul 17 '18 at 17:53

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