Orville and Wilber Wright made the
world's first powered heavier-than-air flight on 17 December 1903 and sold
the first military aircraft to the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1909. Wright
& Co. was formed in 1909.
The Wright's focus on defending their patents helped rivals overtake their
technical expertise. To make up lost time, Wright merged with Martin in
1916 to form Wright-Martin Co. It was not a happy merger and Glen Martin
resigned in 1917. The company changed its name to Wright Aeronautical in
The main result of the merger was to redirected Wright's focus. Martin's
license to build Hispano-Suiza engines led to engines replacing aircraft
as the company's main product.
In 1923, the U.S. Navy decided to stop buying Hispano-Suizas and Wright
acquired Lawrence Aero-Engine in order to develop their J-1 radial engine.
This engine became the Whirlwind.
Wright's president, chief engineer and chief designer left in 1924 to form
Pratt & Whitney.
Curtiss-Wright was formed in 1929 when Wright merged with Curtiss. The
engine divisions of Curtiss and Wright were merged in 1931.
The success of Wright's excellent R-3350 led to its late entry in turbojet
development. The company purchased licenses to produce the Armstrong
Siddeley Sapphire and Bristol Olympus. Major redesign projects delayed the
Wright versions' introduction allowing the Pratt & Whitney J57/JT3 to
steal the market.
Both Curtiss aircraft and Wright engines declined rapidly in the early
1950s and were effectively out of the airframe and aircraft engine
business by the end of the decade.
see Wright J-5 "Whirlwind"