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Mans First Flight
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THE ROAD TO WAR -
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Mans First Flight
 
Man trying to imitate the birds and fly was just a passing fancy to the many, others looked at it with a challenge, those who wanted to were scorned and laughed at, but man still wanted to soar above the clouds and fly, but he would continue to persevere…until he could…soar like the birds.
Many weird and wonderful designs of flying machine evolved in the late 1800’s and early days of the new century, as mans excitement to fly confronted him with many challenges.
Contraptions of every strange shape and size were built by all kinds of enthusiasts, hoping to take to the air just like the birds.
It became the rage at the time as hundreds joined in across the world to capture the dream of flying, in fabricating their own models and tried with eager tenacity to fly them. Many ended in disaster for both machine and pilot as crashes were commonplace and tragedy followed whenever men tried to fly.
In 1891, German engineer Otto Lilienthal began to experiment with hang gliders, his ideas were taken from Sir George Cayley, who nearly one hundred years previously had studied the flight of birds, he came to recognize how birds got their lift, and ability to fly. Lilienthal constructed a fixed wing glider using the principles of flight outlined by Cayley.
His own design gave him the ability of perfecting a glider, of which he flew successfully… until his death from a gliding accident on 10th August 1896. But he paved the way for powered flight that was soon to follow.
A brave but foolhardy man took it upon himself to demonstrate his newly fangled flying machine from the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in the late 1800’s. The man Franz Reichelt, an Austrian tailor, who wore nothing like wings, it did not even resemble the usual shape of the aero-plane at all, it was more like a shroud that would have to be rapidly flapped by hand, in any hope that it may give him some slim chance of flight.
 


The man was ready to jump, the thousands of massed crowds below looked up in sheer amazement, cameras rolled as the man flapped his arms frantically and stepped out into space, anticipation filled the air, but instead the shouts of encouragement became screams of horror as the man plummeted straight down thumping into the ground, killing him instantly.

His body was removed by the police, the depth of his imprint in the ground measured over 6” inches deep…It was a sad and desperate trial of error that cost another man his life in trying to fly like the birds.
 
Franz Reichelt prepares to “fly” from the top of the Eiffel Tower, on the 4th February, 1912
Progress in flight was soon to become a reality as two brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright from America, who began their first testing of gliders on Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina in July 1901. They chose this spot as it gave their gliders good lift from the hillsides, rather from the flat beaches at Kitty Hawk.
The longest flight that they achieved on 8th August 1908, was a record of 389 feet in distance, exciting as it was, it still only counted as a glider flight.
The two brothers were more determined than ever to make a breakthrough in powered flight, but many problems vexed them constantly during their early trials.
They finally succeeded in powering their craft with an engine and propeller that would drive their craft hopefully into the skies. The time was now right to test their new machine.
Many obstacles hindered their testing, but on Thursday, 17th December 1903, at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina…History was about to be made.
Tracking was laid along the level ground for the aircraft to slide along until the eventual hoped for, take off. Orville was the agreed pilot on this occasion sitting in the front taking the controls, as Wilbur was to run alongside steadying the wings to keep the plane level.
As the engine roared, the propeller spun and slowly the plane slid along the monorail tracks, in a matter of seconds it had left the end of the tracks and lifted into the air…at that precise moment Orville told the cameraman to squeeze the bulb, thus the photo was taken that would record the greatest historic flight of mankind.
The world’s first powered flight by aero-plane…17th December 1903
The flight itself lasted only 12 seconds, and covered a distance of 120 feet…but they had both accomplished a sustained flight in the world’s first powered-driven aircraft.
This was to become the most historic flight of the century, now man could fly just like the birds.
The now world famous brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright had triumphantly flown across the vast Atlantic ocean, demonstrating the art of flight in an aircraft built by themselves.
They had conquered the distance of flight through this incredible achievement that amazed the world. People thronged around the aircraft when it landed on British soil, as the two brothers stepped down from their plane the crowd went hysterical with joy, waving and cheering at the new found, “Heroes of Flight”.
That day would be recognized as the beginning of the history of aviation for mankind. It would usher in fantastic designs in aircraft that the world would marvel at
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