Wednesday, December 23, 2015

First flight—unbelievable

For many people around the world, it was literally unbelievable.

On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright cranked up the biplane that he and his brother had built in the back room of their Ohio bike shop, and did what no man had done before: he traveled through the air, perched on a machine.

That first flight wasn’t much to write home about: 120 feet, lasting 12 seconds. Orville and Wilbur flew four times that day, and Wilbur handled the last, spectacular feat: he traveled 852 feet in 59 seconds.

A lot of folks thought it was impossible, or at least impossible for two Dayton bicycle mechanics to pull off.

The Wright brothers were deliberate in their strategies to develop and patent their airplane, so they didn’t talk it up much. The world-wide press was not largely impressed in the early years. Five years after the first flight, Orville and Wilbur went to France and did the first highly publicized demonstrations of their heavier-than-air craft. The world went nuts.

da Vinci's flying machine

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452-1519) had the idea for a flying machine back in the 16th century, but he couldn’t get the thing to work.

David McCullough's book on the Wright brothers

The other British colonies....

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.

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