john t daniels

Flight of the Wright Brothers, 1903

Photograph of John T. Daniels

A camera was present at Kitty Hawk during the historic day of 1903, when Orville and Wilbur Wright Flyer first arrived in heaven. Who took the photo was John T. Daniels, who had come from the Coast Guard station to observe the efforts of the Wright brothers, whom John called “a couple of crazy”. The first flight rose to 37 meters and lasted 12 seconds.

The Anniversary of First Flight!!!

On December 17, 1903, brother Orville and Wilbur Wright flew the first motor powered aircraft in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  Although the popular mythology has the two bicycle mechanics laboring in obscurity in their bike shop in Ohio, they were racing to achieve the inevitable as teams around the world worked to become the first to achieve flight.  The Wright Flyer was based on a glider from France, the Wrights realizing critically that a vertical rudder was a necessary component.  Of the final flight, Orville said:

Wilbur started the fourth and last flight at just about 12 o'clock. The first few hundred feet were up and down, as before, but by the time three hundred ft had been covered, the machine was under much better control. The course for the next four or five hundred feet had but little undulation. However, when out about eight hundred feet the machine began pitching again, and, in one of its darts downward, struck the ground. The distance over the ground was measured to be 852 feet; the time of the flight was 59 seconds. The frame supporting the front rudder was badly broken, but the main part of the machine was not injured at all. We estimated that the machine could be put in condition for flight again in about a day or two.

With that understated report, the dawn of air travel began.  The Wrights, however, did not call that first machine an airplane.  The French had been using aeroplane since 1866, coined using the Ancient Greek aero- meaning air and the French word planer meaning to soar.  Lord Byron had used ‘air vessel’ as early as 1822 to denote a heavier than air craft, but it took a couple of years in English before airplane was common, generally acknowledged between 1905 and 1907.  The trouble with dating it is that no sooner had the airplane’s rudders touched the sand than misinformation began, followed shortly thereafter by lawsuits and patent claims.  A newspaper article in the New York Herald published in Paris, France summed up the skepticism:  

The Wrights have flown or they have not flown. They possess a machine or they do not possess one. They are in fact either fliers or liars. It is difficult to fly. It’s easy to say, ‘We have flown.’

Five people witnessed the first flight, which covered 852 feet in 59 seconds: Adam Etheridge, John T. Daniels and Will Dough, all of the U.S. government coastal lifesaving crew, businessman W.C. Brinkley; and Johnny Moore, a young boy who lived nearby.  John Daniels took the historic photograph, and history was made.

On December 17, 1903, brother Orville and Wilbur Wright flew the first motor powered aircraft in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  Although the popular mythology has the two bicycle mechanics laboring in obscurity in their bike shop in Ohio, they were racing to achieve the inevitable as teams around the world worked to become the first to achieve flight.  The Wright Flyer was based on a glider from France, the Wrights realizing critically that a vertical rudder was a necessary component.  Of the final flight, Orville said:

Wilbur started the fourth and last flight at just about 12 o'clock. The first few hundred feet were up and down, as before, but by the time three hundred ft had been covered, the machine was under much better control. The course for the next four or five hundred feet had but little undulation. However, when out about eight hundred feet the machine began pitching again, and, in one of its darts downward, struck the ground. The distance over the ground was measured to be 852 feet; the time of the flight was 59 seconds. The frame supporting the front rudder was badly broken, but the main part of the machine was not injured at all. We estimated that the machine could be put in condition for flight again in about a day or two.

With that understated report, the dawn of air travel began.  The Wrights, however, did not call that first machine an airplane.  The French had been using aeroplane since 1866, coined using the Ancient Greek aero- meaning air and the French word planer meaning to soar.  Lord Byron had used ‘air vessel’ as early as 1822 to denote a heavier than air craft, but it took a couple of years in English before airplane was common, generally acknowledged between 1905 and 1907.  The trouble with dating it is that no sooner had the planes rudders touched the sand than misinformation began, followed shortly thereafter by lawsuits and patent claims.  A newspaper article in the New York Herald published in Paris, France summed up the skepticism:  

The Wrights have flown or they have not flown. They possess a machine or they do not possess one. They are in fact either fliers or liars. It is difficult to fly. It’s easy to say, 'We have flown.’

Five people witnessed the first flight, which covered 852 feet in 59 seconds: Adam Etheridge, John T. Daniels and Will Dough, all of the U.S. government coastal lifesaving crew, businessman W.C. Brinkley; and Johnny Moore, a young boy who lived nearby.  John Daniels took the historic photograph, and history was made.