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If you've done much travelling you might have noticed that Ohio's license plate reads "Birthplace of Aviation," while North Carolina's reads "First in Flight." So which is true? Can both states claim such an important part of American invention history? Actually they can. The Wright Brothers lived and worked in Dayton, Ohio conducting most of their flying experiments there. But, what is now known as the first flight actually took place in Kittyhawk, North Carolina fueled by the area's strong winds.
Many people who lived before the Wrights contributed to the birth of flight, but it was the Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur) who focused a concentrated effort on controlling flight. Before their famous first flight in 1903, the Wrights were caught up in the bicycle craze and supported their flying dreams by selling, designing and repairing bikes.
At Kittyhawk, a gasoline engine powered the first flight that lasted about 12 seconds and spanned not much more than 100 feet. Thus the Brothers contributed to one of the greatest stories of inventors and inventions in this century. The Wright Brothers were famous for keeping their new invention a secret and that angered the press at times. Other legal and business problems did follow and eventually Orville sold his airplane company and returned to what he loved best: Inventing.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|