ROAD TO WAR -
|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
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