LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona –
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” - Leonardo da Vinci
It had long been the dream of man to take to the skies and soar like the birds. The notion of being able to fly had been hypothesized and experimented with far earlier than the twentieth century, but that aspiration wasn’t fulfilled until two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, broke the barriers and fulfilled the visions of those who came before them.
Orville and Wilbur Wright were once owners of their own bicycling manufacturing company, selling bicycles from five different locations in Dayton. This knowledge was invaluable when they began to journey into the world of aeronautics.
Aircraft, like bicycles, had to be lightweight but also structurally sound. The brothers were also the first to employ the scientific method in their research. They gathered their data in the tests to see where they needed to improve and what they were doing right.
The creation of the first aircraft was not an overnight miracle. It took Orville and Wilbur four long years from the start of their research to their famed first flight.
They chose Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, because that area was known for its strong winds. At the time, of course, the brothers needed the assistance of Mother Nature to at least help them get off the ground.
On Dec. 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville set out to prove their critics wrong. And they did. The first successful test flight lasted 59 seconds and Wilbur flew the plane 852 feet.
It could be said that their lasting development was not the plane that they had built but the spirit of curiosity, adventure, and exploration they ignited in the minds of the people that would come after them. This spirit fanned the flame that ignited the Age of Aviation which eventually led humans to the stars.