1st Airplane Flight

Seconds into the first ever flight of the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville Wright is flying, Wilbur Wright is running alongside.
Seconds into the first ever flight of the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville Wright is flying, Wilbur Wright is running alongside.

Historical Context

Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright are widely regarded as being the first to invent, build and fly the first successful airplane. There had been many attempts to do so in the past, but any flight achieved was generally short and uncontrolled. This was changed by the Wright brothers when they took to the skies four times on their Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903. The first of these flights, shown above, lasted about 12 seconds, at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour (10.9 km/h) and an altitude of 120 feet (37 m).

The difference with the Wright brother's aircraft was that they managed to invent a system whereby the pilot could actually control the aircraft during flight. This method, the three-axis control system, remains the standard on all subsequent aircraft.

For three years until their successful flight in 1903 they honed their skills with glider flights and by building home-made wind tunnels that allowed them to collect more data than other engineers. This enabled them to build better wings and propellers, leading to their successful flights.

Photo Info


Photographer: John T. Daniels
Date taken: December 17, 1903
Location taken: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1903-12-17 The Wright brothers make the 1st sustained motorized aircraft flight at 10:35 AM, piloted by Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina


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