Boys with Bikes
What a Way to End a Year !
The year was 1903, and according to the history books, it was a fairly eventful year.
Ford Motor Company sold its first Model A...
Teddy Roosevelt was President...a "fiery" character, who started the year by closing a post office in Mississippi because it refused to accept its first black postmaster (a woman), in addition to engineering a Central American revolution after Columbia refused to negotiate a deal for the Panama Canal, backing successful Panamanian revolutionists, and even establishing a military base in Cuba called Guantanamo.
Madame Curie shared the first Nobel Peace Prize...
And in the entertainment world, the Edison Company released its first western called "The Great Train Robbery", while an opera singer named Enrico Caruso opened at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, an author named Jack London published a novel entitled "The Call of the Wild," but the year ended with a tragic fire in Chicago where 605 people lost their lives at the Iroquois Theater while vaudeville actor, Eddie Foy, the headliner, desperately tried in vain to save the many who filled the audience.
Some interesting people were born that year as well, which included Bob Hope, Dr, Benjamin Spock, Baseball great Lou Gehrig, and "1984" author, George Orwell.
But when you add it all up....
There was one event that in my opinion, topped all the others.
And it happened at 10:35am in a chilly North Carolina town, called Kitty Hawk, where two brothers changed the history of the world.
The "bike" guys named Orville & Wilbur Wright, made history that morning when each brother made two solo flights in their flying machine from ground level into a freezing headwind gusting to 27 miles per hour.
Orville was a high school drop-out, and Wilbur never attended a single day of college.
Wilbur's father often criticized him for his "lack of ambition."
The brothers always appeared to be close, and began their business ventures in the newspaper business after Orville designed and built a printing press with Wilbur's assistance; and what began as a weekly publication, quickly developed into a daily edition.
Unfortunately, after only 4 months, it failed; but the knowledge of the printing business allowed them a successful career in commercial printing endeavors.
As the "gay 90's" marched on, they capitalized on a bicycle craze that was sweeping the nation; and once again, joined forces, establishing the "Wright Cycle Company."
Their success even lead to manufacturing their own brand in 1896.
But the Wrights had other ambitions and used the profits to fund what they really passioned, FLIGHT.
And so, they entered a competitive world where others had entered primarily with gliders, often succumbing in their efforts.
But there was one element that made the Wrights a bit different from the others....
Wilbur, on the basis of observation, noticed that birds changed the angle of the end of their wings to make their bodies roll to the right and to the left....and thought that a flying machine should encompass the same mechanics...by banking or leaning into a turn...similar to riding a BICYCLE.
This also corrected another major problem.....the wind, enabling recovery when the wind would tilt the flying machine in a certain direction, thus enabling the operator to balance the craft.
But how to accomplish this?
Leave it up to Wilbur. One day, he twisted a long inner-tub box at the bicycle shop, and without realizing it, discovered something we refer to today as "wing-warping," subsequently patented by the Wright Brothers, consisting of pulleys and cables to twist the trailing edges of the wings in opposite directions.
And so, it was time to test it out.
Orville was first up, and traveled all of 120 feet in 12 seconds at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour, and was subsequently immortalized in this photo.
Wilbur and Orville totaled 4 flights that day, and got as far as 200 feet, traveling about 10 feet above the ground.
And so the age of FLIGHT was born, 109 years ago today, on...
December 17, 1903.