How Long Was the First Wright Brothers' Flight?

The Wright brothers’ first flight with a powered engine took place on 17 December 1903 with a plane that remained airborne for a total of 12 seconds and a distance of 120 feet (36.58 m). Orville and Wilbur Wright's first flight was not quite as long as the economy section found in a modern Boeing 747-400 jet airliner, whose economy section is 150 feet (45.72 m) long. Two more flights were conducted that day, with one flight lasting for 59 seconds and covering a distance of 852 feet (259.69 m).

More facts about the Wright brothers:

  • Between 1892 and 1908, the Wrights owned several bicycle shops in Dayton, Ohio. The shops sold new and used bikes and offered repair services.

  • Before the first engine-powered flight, the Wright brothers had flown gliders at Kitty Hawk in 1901 and 1902. That experience and the knowledge they gained helped them go on to make the first powered flight in 1903. The United States patent for the Wright brothers' flying machine was applied for on 23 March 1903, but the patent was not actually issued until 22 May 1906.

  • The Smithsonian Institute issued a statement in 1914 identifying Samuel P. Langley’s aerodrome as the first “aeroplane capable of sustained free flight with a man." The statement led to an ongoing dispute between the Institute and the Wright Brothers that was not resolved until 1942.

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