113 years ago today the Wright brothers made a huge leap into the history books by completing the first ever powered flight. This momentous occasion may have only lasted less than the length of a 747 but it was a massively important achievement by the bicycle building brothers on the Kittyhawk Sands. Once Orville Wright touched back down on the sand a whole new chapter of history had begun and everything I’ve devoted this website to began.
Following their initial success the Wights would go on to develop more refined designs and start demonstration flights. Sadly their genius was soon overtaken by fear as they tried desperately to stop anyone else designing or making money out of aircraft building. With the various court orders and restrictions they put in place American aviation progressed very slowly until after the First World War. Glenn Curtiss was the only man who worked on aircraft design despite the Wright’s objections which led to fierce legal battles.
The Wright Brothers are undoubtedly aviation icons for whom we should all be forever thankful but it is such a shame that initial spark did not grow into something bigger for the rights.
I have great memories of the 100th anniversary of flight, spending the morning at Headcorn, with my Dad taking me for a flight, watching a short display from Rob Davies in Big Beautiful Doll before heading up to Duxford for the afternoon. Its hard to believe that 13 years have now passed since that anniversary but it is great to look back at such an important moment of history and one of my most memorable aviation days.
The attached pictures are from another key memory of that first flight for me. In 2014 I was lucky enough to pay a short visit to Kittyhawk, which is now preserved as a national park. There is an incredible atmosphere in the park with replica buildings of the Wright Brother’s camp and stone markers laying out the path of those short flights. Walking the length of even the longest one and looking back its amazing how much those short hops meant.
Here is a couple of links to previous posts on the Wrights and Glenn Curtiss and those early days of powered flight: