December 17, 1903: The Wright Brothers fly the Wright Flyer near Kitty Hawk.

Orville and Wilbur Wright’s simple but memorable aircraft was the first heavier-than-air powered machine to achieve successful controlled and sustained flight with a pilot aboard. It is said that the brothers actually flipped a coin to see who would be granted the honor of piloting the plane first - Orville won, and it is he who is pictured flying the aircraft in the famous Surfman John T. Daniels photograph. The brothers achieved this feat only after years of designing and testing different kite and glider models in order to acquire the expertise and knowledge necessary to build a fully-functional powered craft. The end result was the Wright Flyer, which was powered by a simple four-cylinder engine. It flew four times that day in an open area south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; the first flight lasted twelve seconds and the last just under a minute, after which the brothers discovered that the plane’s frame had broken. The crafts used in the Wrights Brothers’ later flights in 1904 and 1905 vastly improved upon the original (one flew for nearly forty minutes), but all these were overshadowed by the Kitty Hawk flight that is so well-remembered by history.

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