Later that afternoon, Orville sent a telegram to his father who was home in Dayton. Elated, Mr. Wright wrote his personal thoughts in his diary, including his consternation that the press had not reported the amazing events. Orville also penned his reactions to the day's events in his diary.
The test flights proved Orville and Wilbur Wright had conquered the initial problems of flight. They had filed an application for their new invention with the U.S. Patent Office nearly nine months before. (Patent 821,393 would be issued on May 22, 1906 - more than three years later.)
However ... they had more work to do before they could make a practical airplane. Flyer 1 was underpowered and hard to control. It would only fly in a straight line for about a minute.
For the next two years the brothers improved their designs. They set up the world's first test-flight facilities at Huffman Prairie, today the site of Wright Patterson Air Force Base. By the end of 1905, with Flyer 3 still including parts that looked as though they belonged on a bicycle, they were flying figure-eights over Huffman Prairie until their fuel ran out. They had solved the practical problems of flight.
By 1909, the Wright brothers had developed their first military flyer. Wilbur traveled to Europe and showed Europeans how to fly. (Follow this link to a movie of that event.) The Wright brothers' place as two of history's greatest inventors was assured.
Like Gutenberg before them, Wilbur and Orville Wright forever changed life, as human beings had known it. No longer did people live in a two-dimensional world. No longer did men fight battles only on land and on sea.
Following in the Wright Brothers' footsteps, Charles A. Lindbergh undertook a risky mission in May of 1927. In his small plane - called the "Spirit of St. Louis" - Lindbergh successfully attempted the world's first transatlantic flight.
Leaving Roosevelt Field (in Long Island, New York) at 7:52 AM on the 20th of May, 1927, "Lucky Lindy" touched-down at Le Bourget Field (in Paris) at 11:22 PM the next evening. A crowd of approximately 30,000 people was on hand to greet him.
The age of aviation - featuring flights between continents - had arrived 17½ years after the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk.
Five years to the day after Lindbergh's transatlantic journey, Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to fly solo across the ocean. She left Harbour Grace, Newfoundland at dusk (on May 20, 1932) and landed at Culmore, Northern Ireland the next day.
She later explained the problems she experienced en route, including very bad weather and mechanical troubles.
Bad weather, accompanied by pilot error, caused many other famous crashes within the first half-century of regular flights. One such disaster - referred to as "The Day the Music Died" - occurred on February 3, 1959.
With a pilot who was not licensed to fly in instrument conditions at the yoke of a 1949 Beechcraft Bonanza, Model 35 (commonly referred to as a "V-Tail"), three "rock-n-roll" stars - Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. ("The Big Bopper") Richardson - died when their plane crashed soon-after takeoff.
Although the crash killed everyone onboard, the fully fueled plane did not burn. The Coroner's Report on the Crash - and the four individual Death Certificates - indicate that all four men died of massive trauma.
Decades later, in 2007, Dr. Bill Bass examined Richardson's exhumed body. He found the Bopper was remarkably well-preserved and that he had sustained at least 200 bone fractures, "from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet."