November 9, 1904
First Flight to Soar 5 Minutes
More than a century ago, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright accomplished the impossible! The first airplane to fly more than 5 minutes in duration! During the summer and winter of 1904, the Wright brothers attempted to fly over 100 times at a prairie east of Dayton, Ohio. Determining the site better than the high winds of Kitty Hawk, Huffman Prairie, Ohio proved to be a good choice. Using a catapult that was 20 feet high and a weight of more than 1,000 pounds, they ran a pulley attached to a derrick and the weight where it ran more than 70 feet to the ground. As the brothers pulled the trolley, the weight fell and the Wright Flyer II accelerated with the help from the thrust of the propellers to launch the aircraft soaring into the air. Over a hundred flight attempts later, the Wright brothers made history with their best flight time of just over 5 minutes and 3 miles. It is said the airplane circled the prairie nearly four times that brisk fall day.
How does this historic moment compare with modern air travel today? Well the typical Boeing 747 can fly nearly 16 hours nonstop and cover a distance of nearly 10,000 miles before the need for refueling—or the passengers need to get off and feel solidum terram under their feet!
Photo credit by National Park Service at Huffman Prairie OH.
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