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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.



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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