First in Flight

“I am convinced that human flight is possible and practical.” Wilbur Wright 1899

December 17 marks the anniversary of the Wright brothers’ historic first flight on the shores of the Atlantic in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. All over the country aviators will celebrate this historic event that changed what is now the largest enterprise in the world, the aerospace business.

Wilbur and Orville Wright were the first aviators to design and build an engine -powered flying aircraft that could be manned and controlled while in the air. The Wright brothers discovered three aircraft controls that would allow the pilot to navigate an airplane making it possible to fly.

Their aircraft had the ability to roll the wings from right to left, to pitch the nose up or down, and to yaw the nose from side to side. The ingenious discovery of these three dimensions opened up a world of possibilities, not just to inventors and pilots, but also to the general public who would be soon able to view the earth from above.

Flyer 1 was their first aircraft, the one flown from Kitty Hawk to Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. And although the plane did achieve flight, it was found to be underpowered and difficult to control. Flyer 2 was invented a short time later but it too was difficult to control. Finally, in 1905, Flyer 3 was introduced. This plane had the ability to fly until the fuel ran out and land safely. This was considered the first practical airplane.

Today, this seemingly simple idea has swarmed into a billion dollar industry and a way of life for many. Airplanes have changed the world immensely. There are no barriers between humankind, no sea vast enough, no mountain high enough, for the best aircraft to overcome. Airplanes have affected lives, saving them and taking them.

Aircraft are used for agriculture, fighting fires, saving lives, for transportation of people and goods, and as a simple leisure activity. Amazingly, it all began with two brothers and a seemingly magical idea. On December 17, 1903 history was made, the first successful flight was recorded, thus marking the beginning of the aerospace industry as we know it today.

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