I ‘ve been trying to understand what it means to invent something and found this site very useful Wright Brothers History: The Tale of the Airplane A Brief Account of the Invention of the Airplane researched, written, and designed by Gary Bradshaw.
This graph really sums it up. You don’t have to be first but you do have to change the Paradigm.
The Figure above depicts the longest flights made by various aircraft in the period 1890 to 1909. Green points represent the various Wright craft during this period. Blue points represent non-Wright craft made between 1890 and 1905, while red points represent non-Wright craft made from 1906 to 1909. Lines on the graph are regression functions. The flat blue line indicates that the field as a whole was making NO sustained progress through the end of 1905. This lack of progress is almost invariably true of individual inventors as well as the group as a whole. The positive slope of the Wright brothers indicates a steady progression in the ability of their heavier-than-air craft. Once details of the Wrights methods became public when their patent was issued in late 1905, other inventors quickly copied the important discoveries of the Wright brothers, and developed airplanes as capable as those of the Wrights.