The Dawn of The Era of Powered Flight The Wright Brothers


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The Dawn of The Era of Powered Flight

The course of the flight up and down was exceedingly erratic, partly due to the irregularity of the air, and partly to lack of experience in handling this machine. The control of the front rudder was difficult on account of its being balanced too near the center. This gave it a tendency to turn itself when started; so that it turned too far on one side and then too far on the other.

As a result the ma- chine would rise suddenly to about ten feet, and then as suddenly dart for the ground. A sudden dart when a little over a hundred feet from the end of the track, or a little over 120 feet from the point at which it rose into the air, ended the flight. As the velocity of the wind was over 35 feet per second and the speed of the machine over the ground against this wind ten feet per second, the speed of the machine relative to the air was over 45 feet per second, and the length of the flight was equivalent to a flight of 540 feet made in calm air.


The first manned flight in history: December 17, 1903. At 10:35 am, Orville Wright takes off into a 27 mph wind. The distance covered was 120 feet: time aloft was 12 seconds. Wilbur is seen at right, Picture was taken with Orville's camera by John T. Daniels.

This flight lasted only 12 seconds, but it was nevertheless the first in the history of the world in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed for- ward without reduction of speed and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it started. With the assistance of our visitors we carried the machine back to the track and prepared for an- other flight. The sting-wind, however, had chilled us all through, so that before attempting a second flight, we all went to the building again to warm up. Johnny Ward, seeing under the table a box filled with eggs, asked one of the Station men where we got so many of them.

The people of the neighborhood eke out a bare existence by catching fish during the short fishing season, and their sup- plies of other articles of food are limited. He had probably never seen so many eggs at one time in his whole life. The one addressed jokingly asked him whether he hadn't noticed the small hen running about the outside of the building. "That chicken lays eight to ten eggs a day!" Ward, having just seen a piece of machinery lift itself from the ground and fly, a thing at that time considered as impossible as perpetual motion, was ready to believe nearly anything. But after going out and having a good look at the wonderful fowl, he returned with the remark, "It's only a common looking chicken!"