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  • Writer's pictureKay

Twelve Seconds That Changed History

As a sleeping child, I used to dream of soaring like a bird over the wide, gently sloping yard at our family's home in Oklahoma. The flights themselves were thrilling, but I could never quite manage the landings and usually woke up just before crashing to earth. The Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio shared this dream and made it a reality on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, NC.


Nestled on North Carolina's Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk offered Wilbur and Orville Wright the perfect conditions for their flight tests: wind, sand, and isolation from the public eye. Owners of a successful bicycle shop in Dayton, the brothers set up camp from 1900 to 1904 near Kill Devil Hill, a massive sand dune standing more than100 feet tall, to test their theories. They climbed the hill's steep sides more than 1000 times to test their gliders, refining the design of the propellers, wings and rudders with each failed attempt in order to build a "machine" that could take off from level ground under its own power rather than glide from a hilltop.


With their goal in sight and the help of a few local residents, the brothers built a 60-foot monorail track on the sandy plain at the foot of the dune to test their aircraft on flat land. (The soft sand prevented gaining enough speed for take off, so the plane would ride down the monorail on a dolly). Finally, on a freezing, windy morning in December, 1903, Orville, dressed in a coat and tie, stretched out at the controls of the machine while Wilbur and the local crew pulled the craft down the rail with ropes. It flew for 12 seconds for a distance of 120 feet. The brothers made three more flights that morning, with Wilbur flying the last run 59 seconds and 852 feet. The era of modern air travel had begun, and the rest is history.


Kill Devil Hill, Kitty Hawk, Outer Banks, North Carolina



Wright Brothers' Flight Path At Foot of Kill Devil Hill, Kitty Hawk

With Mark Wiggs at Wright Brothers' Memorial Atop Kill Devil's Hill, Kitty Hawk


Kay with Orville Wright on First Flight









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3 Comments


Guest
Apr 09, 2022

Yes- so fun! Sounds Ike you read the book by McCullogh. It’s on my list now 🙂👍🏻

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Guest
Apr 09, 2022

The saga continues. I love the narratives. Keep them coming! Hh

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Kay
Kay
Apr 09, 2022
Replying to

Thanks, wish y’all were here!

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