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Biplane, airplane with two wings, one above the other. In the 1890s this configuration was adopted for some successful piloted gliders. The Wright brothers’ biplanes (1903–09) opened the era of powered flight. Biplanes predominated in military and commercial aviation from World War I through the early 1930s, but the biplane’s greater maneuverability could not offset the speed advantage of the lighter monoplane. After World War II, biplanes were used only for special purposes: crop dusting and sport flying.