Orville Wright, (1871-1948) and his brother Wilbur (1867-1912). US pioneers of aviation. The Wright brothers designed and built bicycles before turning to glider design. They constructed a biplane in 1899 and made the first sustained powered flight on 17 December 1903 near Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. There is a replica of their plane in the Science Museum in South Kensington, London. Although their early flights did not succeed in making news or in interesting the US government, the brothers continued to improve their flying machines. In 1908 they had their plane sent by sea to France, where they were received enthusiastically. The Wright brothers gained a -US army contract for the first military plane in 1909.