14 December 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, First Airplane

The two brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright, have been working on this machine for years. Unlike other pioneers they understood the challenge of flying. It was neither about the engine nor about the material. It was about steering.

They spent weeks and months to find a mechanism that allows to steer the machine. From their gliding experience they knew that shifting weight is impractical and dangerous for bigger flying machines. So they concentrated on the steering mechanism. They found a solution which they called “3-axis steering”.

Today is the big day for the first powered flight, but who should be the pilot? Wilbur, or Orville? They tossed a coin and Wilbur won. They placed the machine which they called “Flyer” on top of the hill. It looked fragile and minimalistic. A strange construction of wood, I could never imagine that this thing can fly like a bird?

Wilbur took place which means he lay down in the middle of the Flyer. Orville started the engine. These two wooden things they called “propeller” started to rotate. The propellers got faster and Orville pushed the Flyer. Suddenly I saw a little space between the wheels of the Flyer and the ground. It was flying … and crashed. Somehow it could not keep itself in the air. The Flyer took minor damage and no one got injured.

This was a step forward, but no flying yet. In a few days they will start the next attempt.

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