Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

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Conquering the Sky: Dec. 17, 1903

Pictured is the take-off of the 1903 Wright Flyer on the world's first powered, sustained and controlled heavier-than-air flight on Dec. 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills, N.C. Piloted by Orville Wright, the airplane remained aloft for 12 seconds and flew a distance of 120 feet in a straight line.

After Orville's first flight, Wilbur flew the aircraft 175 feet. Orville then took another turn, traveling 200 feet on his second flight. On the fourth flight of the day, Wilbur covered a distance of 852 feet, remaining aloft for 59 seconds. Although the landing from this last flight slightly damaged the aircraft, the Wrights intended to quickly fix the Flyer and attempt yet another flight. Unfortunately, a sudden gust of wind picked up the aircraft and tossed it along the beach, causing extensive damage -- the world's first successful airplane would never fly again.

A section of the original 1903 Wright Flyer fabric is one display in the museum's Early Years Gallery.

Click here to return to the Wright Brothers Overview.


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Original 1903 Wright Flyer Fabric
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