The first person to fly a powered airplane was Orville Wright on December 17, 1903. The second was Wilbur Wright on that same day.

The Wright Flyer was destroyed before anyone else flew it. The Wright Flyer II, I think, never had a pilot besides the two of them. The Wright Flyer III carried Charles Furnas as the first airplane passenger on May 14, 1908.

Who was the third airplane pilot? Was there another person who flew one of the Flyers? Did someone else succeed before that happened?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome, Plutor, to aviation.stackexchange.com. I edited your question to focus on powered flight as unpowered aircraft (gliders) had been flown in the 19th century by Otto Lilienthal and others before the Wright brothers started flying. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Mar 12 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ To fly a powered airplane or to fly a Wright's airplane? Who flew first a powered airplane is still not clear and most probably will never be. $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Mar 13 at 6:42

2 Answers 2


I'll nominate Alberto Santos-Dumont, who

on 23 October 1906 flew about 60 metres [≈200 ft — ed.] at a height of two to three metres with the fixed-wing 14-bis (also dubbed the Oiseau de Proie—"bird of prey") at the Bagatelle Gamefield in Paris, taking off unassisted by an external launch system.


Europeans at the time believed it was the first such achievement. ... The judges had been overcome with emotion and forgot to time and track the flight, and due to this the record was not made official.

enter image description here

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)


Answer to part of your question: Was there another person who flew one of the Flyers?

According to this article , Walter Richard Brookins flew his Wright Flyer on July 9, 1910.

(Highlighting and underlines are mine)

enter image description here


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