Friday, March 28, 2008

The History of Flight

It hasn’t been since Texas that I had taken a day off to do some proper sightseeing, so I figured I would enjoy a day in the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks are home to Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers National Monument, birthplace of powered flight.

At the Wright Brothers National Monument there are a series of four cairns set up, each representing the distance covered on each of the four flights of the Wright Brothers first plane, “The Flyer" The distances of the first three flights were: 120, 175 & 200 feet. Those distances seem so meager when physically looking at them. A kid could throw a baseball 200 feet. The fourth flight was a much better at 852 feet. Even so, 852 feet is still less than three football fields in length. While not very long, it was the start of something much, much bigger.

From 1903 to present, powered flight developed at astounding an astounding rate, sometimes by aircraft enthusiasts and at others by various governments.

Look how far powered flight has come in 78 years:

1903 - First powered flight

1911 - first flight across the Untied States

1914 - first scheduled commercial flight

1929 - first blind flight, instruments only

1933 - first round the world flight

1939 - first true jet powered plane

1942 - first rocket in space

1947 - first flight breaking the sound barrier

1957 - first rocket carrying cargo to space

1961 - first man in space

1969 - first man on moon

1970 - Boeing 747 makes first commercial flight

1976 - Concorde began commercial service

1981 - first reusable space craft lands after first mission

OK, this is about riding a bike and not the history of flight, so I will leave it at that. I am just really impressed.

In the afternoon I went for a walk along the beach. It was the first time I had enjoyed an East Coast beach in quite some time.

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