The First Flight: Celebrating the Wright Brothers

image courtesy of The Wright Brothers Official Website

image courtesy of The Wright Brothers Official Website

Today we wanted to take the time to commemorate two very special individuals: Orville and Wilbur Wright.

December 17, 1903 marks the day the Wright brothers flew the first powered airplane 20 feet above ground for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. After that successful flight, three more flights were made that day, lasting 59 seconds of a distance over 852 feet – truly incredible!

Orville and Wilbur Wright first began their experimental flying in 1896 at their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. The main reason why they used Kitty Hawk for their test flights was because of the constant wind that the area provided, making for an excellent environment to test their aircraft prototypes.

By 1902, the brothers logged more than 700 successful glider flights – the next step after was to make a powered aircraft prototype. Since no automobile manufacturer could supply the brothers with an engine that would be light enough for flying and powerful enough to propel the prototypes into the air, the Wright brothers decided to build their own engine. By December of 1903, they perfected their work and took to the skies.

Within a few short years, other American innovators inspired by the Wright’s work would build on their genius to quadruple power and shave weight to prove that these heavier-than-air machines could not just amazingly fly, but they could also race!

That was the beginning of the vintage aircraft experience.

A journalist of a newspaper described that historical day at Kitty Hawk as: “The conditions on the morning of December 17 were perfect for flight – high, consistent winds blowing from the north. At about 10:30 that morning, Orville Wright lay down on the plane’s wing surface and brought its engine to life in preparation of launching it and himself into history”. And into history they’ve launched – through hard work, persistence, and their dream of conquering the skies.

To experience those exciting days, stop by North Cascades Vintage Aircraft Museum where we love to fly our break-through pace setters. Meanwhile, check out this video of the historic 12 second flight, brought to us by British Pathé:



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