History of the American Aviator – Part 1 – First in Flight
On December 17, 1903, from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, bicycle shop owner Orville Wright telegraphed his father the following: “Success four flights Thursday morning all against twenty one mile wind started from Level with engine power alone average speed through air thirty one miles longest 57 seconds inform press home Christmas.” With this, he and brother Wilbur ascended into esteem as the inventors and pilots of the first engine powered airplane – The Flyer. Since then, their “first in flight” status has earned North Carolina the bragging rights, and the accolades of history.
The Flyer was the culmination of the Wrights’ experiments with gliders between 1900 and 1902. Bicycle mechanic, Charlie Taylor, employee of the Wrights, built the first airplane engine, which was a small gas powered engine with sprockets and chains driving the craft’s twin propellers. Mr. Taylor is appreciated as a vital contributor of the mechanical skills in the building and maintaining of the Wrights’ early airplanes.
There remains historical controversy over who indeed was “first” in powered flight. On June 25, 2013 the Governor of Connecticut signed House Bill No. 6671 stating that the achievement of the first powered flight belongs not to the Wrights but to Gustave Whitehead, a German immigrant who is believed by some historians to have made the momentous first flight on August 14, 1901, in the skies over Bridgeport, Connecticut. The bill also commemorates the state’s prolific aviation and aerospace industries.
Whether the first was the Wrights or Whitehead, anyone brave enough to pilot mankind’s first powered airplanes deserves commendation. Aviation’s dawning would see the entrance of a host of dare devils, inventors, and industrialists – all looking to the skies as the next frontier of human achievement.