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Wright brothers fly first airplane, December 17, 1903


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Wright brothers fly first airplane, December 17, 1903

  Jessica MacNeil

Dec. 17 2019

Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful flight of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903. Orville piloted the gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane 120 feet in 12 seconds near Kitty Hawk, NC.

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The aviation pioneers chose Kitty Hawk based on recommendations from the US Weather Bureau and began testing their first glider in 1900. Over the next three years they built a wind tunnel to test wing and airframe designs and developed a steering system based on a movable rudder that enabled controlled flight. With the help of machinist Charles Taylor, the brothers designed a 12-horsepower internal combustion engine for powered flight.

After a failed attempt on December 14 where the engine stalled during take-off, they gathered five witnesses to see the aircraft travel down a monorail track and into the air for the first sustained human flight at 10:35 am on December 17. Three more tests were made that day, with Wilbur taking the last flight 852 feet in 59 seconds.

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