The First Flight
December 17, 1903, 10:35am
The moment men and machine are elevated into history is captured on a 5 x 7 in. glass negative showing the first ever powered, controlled, sustained flight.
The men: brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright, photographer John T. Daniels.
The machine: the Wright Flyer I
On the first successful flight of the Wright Flyer, the machine traveled 120 ft (36.6 m) in 12 seconds at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Orville Wright was at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with his hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright ran alongside to balance the machine, and just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing in the photo. The starting rail, the wing-rest, a coil box, and other items needed for flight preparation are visible behind the machine. This is described as "the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air, powered flight" by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
In the iconic photo above, Orville Wright preset the camera and had John T. Daniels squeeze the rubber bulb, tripping the shutter.