The date was 17 December 1903; the scene: the cold windy hills of North Carolina; the name of the place which was to go down in history: Kitty Hawk; the occasion: man’s first powered flight. The aeroplane had arrived. Orville Wright (one of the two aviation pioneer brothers, Orville and Wilbur) was at the controls. The aircraft, powered by a four cylinder engine, careered through space for twelve seconds at 48 km.p.h. airspeed, swept down and landed in soft sand. Orville wrote: ‘This flight lasted only twelve 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 forward without reduction of speed and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it started.’ The Wrights’ aircraft was called Flyer. Only five people were there to watch it make history. One photograph recorded the scene. It was not until three years after Kitty Hawk that the Scientific American wrote: ‘In all the history of invention there is probably no parallel to the unostentatious manner in which the Wright Brothers of Dayton, Ohio, ushered into the world their epoch-making invention of the first successful aeroplane flying machine.’
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