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History of Flight - KITTY HAWK

KITTY HAWK (Illustration) American History Biographies Famous People Social Studies STEM Tragedies and Triumphs Famous Historical Events Aviation & Space Exploration

The Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. It commemorates the world’s first powered flight which took place on December 17, 1903.

 

Once the Wright brothers were able to achieve sustained and controlled flight, based on their calculations and field tests, they constructed a larger version of their 1902 glider. They called it the Flyer. Most folks today know it as Flyer 1 or the Kitty Hawk.

But Flyer 1 would be an airplane, not a glider. Will and Orville needed to figure out how to use a propeller in the air. Although they looked at shipbuilding literature, it didn't help them. There was no theory of propulsion. At the time, no one truly understood a propeller is nothing more than a wing rotating on its axis which lifts the plane forward.

Once the Wright brothers reasoned through this fundamental tenet of self-propelled flight, they were ready to build their power source. It was a 4-cylinder, 12 horsepower gas engine they built with the help of their mechanic, Charlie Taylor. (Be sure to follow the links in this paragraph to view NASA-created animations depicting how Flyer's engine actually worked.)

The Wright brothers had been in a race to see who could develop the first heavier-than-air powered flying machine. Samuel Langley, the distinguished secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, had developed an Aerodrome. When it crashed on launch, Langley left future experiments to the Wright brothers.

Langley wasn't the only competition the brothers faced, however. They had to press forward. It was time for another trip to Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hill.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5123stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Feb 23, 2017


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