December 17, 2014

On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made the first successful manned flight in a motorized airplane near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

The Virginian-Pilot published the news on its front page the next day.

“The problem of aerial navigation without the use of a balloon has been solved at last.

Over the sand hills of the North Carolina coast yesterday, near Kitty Hawk, two Ohio men proved that they could soar through the air in a flying machine of their own construction, with the power to steer and speed it at will….”

Virginian-Pilot, December 18, 1903

Virginian-Pilot, December 18, 1903

This video tells the story of the Wright brothers with archival film footage and old photos.

The writer of the 1903 Virginian-Pilot article was not at the historic flight.

However, he was able to piece together the information based on reports from others. (Some of the details he was given were incorrect.)

In an article called, “The Big Story,” Virginia Living magazine tells the story behind the story. Here is an excerpt:

“How the Pilot got this huge story can be traced back four months before the Wright brothers made those first flights. Harry P. Moore, a 19-year old freelance cub reporter, was sitting in a Norfolk restaurant when he overheard a man from the Outer Banks say that ‘two crazy loons’ were in Kitty Hawk, attempting to fly….

….There were five witnesses to this history-making event, Moore went on to point out. In addition to Dough and Daniels, there was also Adam D. Etheridge, another member of the Life Saving Service, along with W. C. Brinkley of Manteo and Johnny Moore, a young boy who lived near Nags Head. Daniels lent a hand in recording the first flight on film. He had been asked by Orville Wright to use the Wright’s camera, a Gundlach Korona box camera, with a 5-foot by 7-foot glass-plate negative, to provide a record of the moment, and also to forestall any future patent claims by other would-be flyers. In the photo, Wilbur Wright is seen running alongside the wing as the plane lifts off the ground. Daniels later said he was so excited at seeing the Flyer rise that he nearly forgot to squeeze the bulb triggering the shutter.”

The Smithsonian and the Discovery Channel produced this documentary about the Wright brothers.

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