How not to... take to the skies

All About History - - AVIATION -

Al­though the Flyer suc­cess­fully got off the ground on 17 De­cem­ber 1903, Wil­bur Wright had ac­tu­ally made an at­tempt to fly the plane on a cold win­ter’s morn­ing three days ear­lier. He’d won the chance fol­low­ing the toss of a coin with his brother, Orville, and the pair made prepa­ra­tions at Kill Devil Hills, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

As­sisted by men from the lo­cal coast guard, the Wrights got the plane into po­si­tion on an in­cline of a sand dune and Wil­bur crawled into the pi­lot’s po­si­tion. The Flyer – newly fit­ted with a lightweight en­gine that the broth­ers de­signed them­selves – jour­neyed 12 me­tres (40 feet) down the rail. But Wil­bur pulled up too sharply and the plane sud­denly lurched and stalled.

This drove the air­craft into the sand, end­ing the flight af­ter just three-and-ahalf sec­onds. Wil­bur was con­fi­dent that suc­cess was in their grasp. Even so, it would be Orville that would be the one to pi­lot on their next at­tempt – and make his­tory in the progress.

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