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  • 110 Years Ago Today…

    Posted by David Foster on December 17th, 2013 (All posts by )

    …the Wright Brothers’s first flight.


    12 Responses to “110 Years Ago Today…”

    1. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I read an excellent biography of the brothers a few years ago. It’s worth the time.

    2. Bill Brandt Says:

      I wonder if they knew – at the time from that very short flight – how momentous that day was.

    3. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Not enough people understand how important the light gasoline engine was to their achievement.

    4. dearieme Says:

      Michael, where could I read about the development of such engines?

    5. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I was at the Udvar-Hazy Center, an Air & Space Museum annex at Dulles Airport, several years ago. I remember standing alongside the Enola Gay. There was a 1930’s era aircraft hanging from the ceiling to my left, the B-29 directly in front of me, and an SR-71 off to my right.

      I recall thinking, 10 years of technological development from that 30’s plane to the B-29, which was an intercontinental range, metal bodied, pressurized cabin, 4 engine plane; and then another twenty years to the SR-71 flying at Mach-3 along the edge of space. Just 60 years before the SR-71, the Wright brothers were first flying their experimental plane on the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk. What an incredible rate of change.

    6. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “Michael, where could I read about the development of such engines?”

      It’s been a while but I believe there is quite a bit about them in that biography.

      Then there is this.

    7. Michael Kennedy Says:

      And this.

    8. Grurray Says:

      Michael Hiteshew,

      and then, just past that Blackbird, 20 more years to the Challenger space shuttle – which they just parked there last year.

    9. T.K. Tortch Says:

      Michael Hiteshaw –

      I had the same “wow” experience at the U-H Center as you. Another “wow” was the time it took between the 1st flight and an aircraft with a wingspan longer than the distance of the 1st flight. It wasn’t that long.

      The World Wars, of course, lit a fire under aircraft & rocketry tech. Probably World War I saw a steeper “learning curve” in that way than WWII, if you don’t count jet engines. A lot of military aircraft in 1914 weren’t much more than post-Wright kites with pusher engines; by the end of the war the rotary engine had been pushed almost to the max of its development potential, radial engines had been introduced, and people were experimenting with aluminum fuselages.

    10. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “the Challenger space shuttle – which they just parked there last year.”

      I thought it blew up.

    11. Grurray Says:

      Correction – Discovery

    12. Bill Brandt Says:

      I admire the generations of pilots for their courage (and sometimes dying) to get us where we are.

      WW1 – really accelerated aircraft development but the training was way behind – the average new pilot had a life expectancy of about 2 weeks once thrown into combat.

      1920s – the mail pilots – a great movie on this was starring Christopher Reeve and Roseanna Arquett – the Aviators – those guys had to means to protect against weather – no IFR (that was to be pioneered in the 30s by Jimmy Doolittle) – no wing deicing – SOP for getting out of icing conditions was to throw the plane into a spin.

      1930s – engine development was ahead of airframe – maybe that is why the Hughes H1 was such a radical airplane. Planes like the GB2 killed a lot of pilots – all engine and very little airframe.

      1940s – we advanced piston engines about as far as they could go – and sometimes (inadvertently) entered supersonic – or near supersonic – flight (in dives). Heck they are still using these engines at the Reno Air Races.

      1950s – test pilots were dying wholesale but we were leaning about supersonic flight.

      1960s – the era of space began…

      Amazing how far we have come in such a relatively short time. Think of , say, a Lockheed Constellation just 40 years after the Wright Brothers….