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Rare Photos of the Wright Brothers 114 Years After Their First Flight

On Dec. 17, 1903, the aviation pioneers achieved the first powered, sustained and controlled flight.

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The Wright Brothers are famous for being the Pioneers of Aviation after they achieved the first powered, sustained and controlled airplane flight on Dec. 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. They were not the first people to build and fly experimental aircraft, but the brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight a reality. The three-axis aerodynamic controls allowed the plane to roll, pitch, and yaw. The brothers also learned the piloting skills that were needed to use these controls effectively.

Though Dec. 17 was the first big step towards flying, the bigger events came years later. By 1908, the Wright Brothers had developed a practical airplane capable of carrying two people and flying for as long as the gasoline lasted. They showed their invention to a large audience for the first time that year, and in 1909, started to teach people the skills needed to fly. This was the start of “modern aviation.” Take a look at pictures below to see the Wright Brothers and their legacy.

Photograph of the glider being launched. Orville Wright (1871-1948) and his brother Wilbur (1867-1912) were self-taught American airplane pioneers. They carried out extensive research and testing with gliders to establish a design for a heavier-than-air flying machine capable of sustained, controllable flight. A crucial feature of their design was the prone position of the pilot, which reduced air resistance considerably compared to earlier designs which had the pilot in an upright position. After successfully designing their glider, the brothers then fitted a petrol engine to the machine, which they named the ‘Flyer’. On 17 December 1903 with Orville at the controls, the Flyer made the world’s first sustained powered flight at Kitty Hawk. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
The First Plane Invented By Wilbur And Orville Wright, Flying (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Pioneer aviator Wilbur Wright posing after historic flight making him first man to fly in a power-driven machine. (Time Life Pictures/Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
First Hydroplane Of The Wright Brothers (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Portrait of the Wright Brothers, first to develop powered heavier-than-air flight. Wilbur stands on the left. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Orville Wright stands by as brother Wilbur prepares to take their sister Katherine on her first flight. (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
circa 1910: The US aviation pioneers Orville Wright (1871 – 1948, left), and his brother Wilbur (1867 – 1912), who designed and flew the first powered aircraft in 1903. (Photo by Library Of Congress/Getty Images)
circa 1909: Grace pilots a bi-plane, designed by Wilbur Wright, (1867 – 1912), and his brother Orville Wright, (1871 – 1948), the US aviation pioneers who designed and flew the world’s first powered aircraft, 1903. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
1st December 1903: The Wright Brothers first plane 1903, in which the world’s first flights by a heavier than air machine were made in December at Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, N Carolina. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
In this undated file photo, Orville and Wilbur Wright test their airplane on a beach. The Wright brothers have long been credited as the first to achieve powered flight. But in June, 2013, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a law giving German-born aviator and Connecticut resident Gustave Whitehead the honor of being first. On Thursday, Oct. 23, 2013, Ohio state Rep. Rick Perales and North Carolina state Sen. Bill Cook held news conferences to dispute Connecticut’s action and reassert the Wright Brothers were first in flight. (AP Photo/File)