Wilber Wright called flight the "perfect peace." Today celebrates National Aviation Day and the 1871 birth of his brother, Orville Wright.
The brothers were bicycle mechanics who believed they could build... and fly... a self-propelled flying machine. They did just that on December 17, 1903, 10:35 a.m., at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
On that fateful day, Wilbur won the coin-toss, but his first attempt failed. So Orville, harnessed in his seat, took off with a light-weight, twelve-horsepower engine into 27 mph winds, 120 feet (36 m) off the ground for 12 seconds, sailing without reduction of speed.
The first manned flight in history. By the fourth and final flight of the day, Wilber flew 853 feet (260 m) for 59 seconds.
Success came after years of hard work and determination.
Going through hundreds of experiments and over two hundred wing variations, the Wright Brothers researched gliding and bird flight, then invented a way to twist the wings and control flight. With a cable, they could lift either wing, fly level, or make banked turns.
Travel was never the same. The airplane forever changed transportation, commerce, and warfare. The world became a smaller place to explore.
"To invent an airplane is nothing," explained glider inventor Otto Lilienthal whose aerodynamic research inspired the Wright Brothers and was essential to the development of the airplane. "To build one is something. To fly is everything."
On this day in 1940, the new Civil Aeronautics Administration awarded honorary license number 1 to Orville Wright.
Aeronautics is more miracle than science.