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The First Powered Flight by the Wright Brothers
On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright made the first powered, controlled and sustained flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina–ushering in a new era in world history. Orville, shown here lying prone at the plane’s controls, flew a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds. Wilbur, standing at right, ran beside Flyer’s wing tip until it was airborne to keep the wing from dragging in the sand. This photograph, taken at the exact moment of liftoff by Orville Wright, was made by squeezing a bulb and tripping the shutter of a preset camera. The momentous events of that December day received little press attention, since the reticent Wright brothers feared their ideas would be stolen by rival aviators. It was not until 1908, after making many refinements to their flying machine, that the Wrights embarked on a series of public demonstrations that finally earned them worldwide acclaim.