The Wright brothers invented the first successful airplane in 1903. By 1902, Wilbur and Orville Wright had invented the first successful glider and were focused with designing and building the first airplane that could gain sustained flight.
In order to do this, the Wright brothers had to invent a propulsion system that would enable the airplane to sustain its flight. During the spring and summer of 1903, they tested numerous different ideas before finally successfully testing the first working airplane on December 17, 1903. At Kitty Hawk, N.C., the brothers completed four successful flights, marking a pivotal moment in the genesis of modern aeronautics.
Compared to today's engines, the Wright brothers had an extremely crude propulsion system that used four horizontal inline cylinders. It didn't use any fuel pumps, carburetors or spark plugs. It produced a mere 12 horsepower, which was actually four more horsepower than the brothers calculated they would need in order to successfully gain sustained flight.
With no fuel pumps, the gasoline was fed through the engine through the simple force of gravity, fed from a small tank that could only contain a quart and a half of fluid. The gasoline would enter a small chamber that was situated right next to the cylinders. As the gasoline mixed with the air, the aluminum crankcase used heat to evaporate the gasoline and air, allowing it to pass through and power the cylinders.The engine was made out of lightweight aluminum, a material that would go on to become essential to airplane technology.