Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright began their journey to conquer the skies in 1899. Four years of researching and developing the “Wright Flyer” followed. The brothers built and tested three full-sized gliders until they managed to achieve a powered flight.
Their experiments were largely overshadowed by those of Smithsonian scientist Samuel Langley, whose (failed) tests received wide press coverage. Unlike those before them, however, the Wrights discovered that the problems during flight could not be solved from the ground and that humans would have to fly their machine.
Their first flight was inaugurated near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17th, with Orville piloting the plane for 12 seconds, traveling 36 meters. Three more successful attempts ensued, with Wilbur’s second run faring the best, lasting 59 seconds and covering 255.6 meters.