Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DECEMBER 17 = The Wright Brothers FLY!!

The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk

"They cooked breakfast and they straightened up and they waited for the wind to break. And Wilbur was staring out of the doorway and he stood up and he walked to the door and he said, 'we have waited long enough. Today will be the day. We're going to fly.'"

This was the moment of decision as described by John Gillikin of the National Park Service. This was the moment that Orville Wright decided he and his brother Wilbur were going to fly their machine. On this date, December 17 in 1903 at a wind-swept field in isolated, barren Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Wilbur and Orville Wright changed the shape and size of the world forever. (Pictured above, Orville left, Wilbur right.) Though reaction at the time was slow to catch on, these two Bicycle Repairmen, these two modest family men from the American middle class of Dayton, Ohio had just made the first heavier than air flight in history -- a power that had been sought after by mankind's inventors and scientists dating back to Leonardo DaVinci in the days of the Italian Renaissance. Mr. Gillikin goes on to describe the moment itself:

The Moment of the Wright Brother's First Flight

"This time no hill. This time they placed their launching system on a level field beside their building, playing the cradle, cradle on the rail, hook a wire to hold it back, spin propeller. Now it's Orville's turn. The local men said Wilbur approached them and I'm not really sure whether he did this with Orville's knowledge or not and he said that Orville was going to be afraid and that he didn't want him to look scared. He wanted cheering and shouting and happiness. One of the local men said when the brothers shook hands it looked like two men that were never going to see each other again. Orville took his place at the controls and Wilbur held the wing tip. They had taken John Daniels aside beforehand and they said, we need a picture of this. To our knowledge John Daniels had never used a camera in his life. But, why not? They just told him, they set the camera up and they said when the machine flies in front of you, squeeze the ball. 10:35 A.M., they dropped the wire. There was sand blowing, high wind, the machine began to crawl forward. Finally after about 45 feet it lifted into the air, 120 feet, twelve seconds later, it touched the earth. Humanity had flown."
The Reaction to the Wright Brother's First Flight

The Wrights did indeed become celebrities for their invention. While they were dumbfounded when the United States War Department turned them down when they offered the U.S. the rights to their invention, they took it to Europe where they flew it in a demonstration for the Kaiser, William II of Germany. But as with the U.S., the European nations had their own men working on possible flight. So they returned to the U.S. and established
the Wright Company to manu- facture airplanes in 1909. They had spent much of their early years after their (Above, the assembly room at the Wright Company Factory, circa 1904) invention in fear that someone would steal their idea. So it was in 1912 that Wilbur, while pursuing one of many lawsuits against infringes of their copyright, fell ill while in Boston with typhoid fever. He died three weeks later at the age of 45. Orville lost interest in the Company after that and sold it in 1915 along with their patents for one million dollars. Orville Wright died of a heart attack in January of 1948. He was 76 years old. The legacy of the Wright Brothers is profound. While the monetary rewards which they received in their lifetime were limited, they did receive the credit for being the first men to fly a heavier than air craft. At the time of his son's death in 1912, his father said of his son Orville something that could well be said of both of the Wright Brothers:

"An unfailing intellect, imperturbable temper, great self-reliance and as great modesty, seeing the right clearly, pursuing it steadfastly, he lived and died."

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Sources :


"First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane"  by T.A. Heppenheimer, Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, N.J., 2003

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  2. Cool footage of the Wright Cycle Company with a drone that kinda didn't go as planned at the 6:46 time mark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgB3pAzcD5w