The 17th of December 1903

It is 10:35 am and the North Carolina winds are blowing at 43 km/h (27 mph). Orville Wright is ready. He gets on his aircraft. Could it be his death… or a new dawn for aviation? It takes off, and continues its journey for 37m (120 ft) in a 12 second period. Although only flying at approximately 10.9 km/h (6.8 miles), he has done it. Powered flight now officially exists.

Many aviation pioneers used to claim about how they broke a certain record first and how their aircraft was going to function where others failed. Let’s take the example of French pilot Clément Ader, who announced that he was the 1st person to have conquered the so far impossible domain of manned flight, with the supposedly successful flight of his “Eole” on the 9th of October 1890. I would love to believe that his claim was true, but there is no proof that the “Eole” actually flew. A beautiful machine nonetheless, it only managed to get 20cm (7.87 inches) off the ground for a distance of 50m (54.68 yards). The distance was impressive for the time, but the altitude not. This is the living proof that many aviation pioneers either weren’t telling the truth, exagerating or trying to make a name for themselves by inventing a story. I personally believe Monsieur Ader’s story, as there is nothing that prooves that it didn’t happen, but everybody is entitled to have their own opinion. Most aerogeeks will remember the fall of the influentual Samuel Pierpont Langley, whose Aerodrome failed to fly twice in 1903, destroying his reputation. Being an aviation pionneer back then was almost viewed upon as being a minister in the House of Commons, whereas being a pilot nowadays is considered as normal as any other job.

L'Avion III de Ader, conçu 7 ans plus tard sur les bases d'Éole.
Clément Ader’s “Eole”.

On the same day as the first powered flight, 3 more flights were conducted by Orville and Wibur Wright. The last one was the most successful, lasting 59 seconds and going over a distance of 259.7m (852 ft). All 4 flights were witnessed by 5 people, including Johnny Moore, a teenage boy who lived in the area and John T. Daniels, who took the photo of the 1st one. So there, we know that the flight happened, unless the Wright brothers payed the witnesses off to lie to the press, which is impossible because of the photo. Even to this day, the Wright Brothers exploits haven’t been forgotten and I doubt that they ever will. McCloud, 10th of June 2020.

This is John T. Daniels photo of the 1st powered flight.

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