1997 32¢ Wright Model “B”
Classic American Aircraft
Issue Date: July 19, 1997
City: Dayton, OH
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Forever yearning to soar with the birds, man first became airborne in 1783. However, the fickle wind, not man, powered and controlled flight. Then, on December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers’ engine-driven, heavier-than-air Flyer lifted into the air and traveled 120 feet in 12 seconds. The Age of Flight had dawned.
By modern standards, the Flyer was not impressive. Its double-tiered wings and frame were made of balsa, plywood, and fabric, wired together for rigidity. A 12-horsepower petrol engine, strapped to the platform beneath the wings, catapulted the contraption down a wooden monorail to become airborne. The pilot lay beside the engine and held on. The craft was primitive and unstable. It had no seats, no wheels, and no flaps to control lateral movement. Nonetheless, an engine had powered it into the air.
Using a methodical scientific approach, the Wrights tackled these problems. Eventually they were able to improve stability and control, add seats and wheels, and most importantly, they could design more powerful engines. With each improvement, their aircraft set world speed, height, and distance records. In 1910, the potential of flight received official recognition when the U.S. Army purchased two Model “Bs” for pilot training.