While many B.R.I. members enjoy reading current news- papers on the seat of learning, the B.R.I.'s staff historian is particularly fond of old ones. "It's like reliving history," he says. For some time now, he's been searching through old issues of The New York Times, looking for an account of the Wright Brothers' flight in 1903. He hasn't found it, and here's why: Only one newspaper, the Norfolk Virginia Pilot, published an account of the first airplane flight. Luckily, B.R.I. member Gene Brissie had a copy. Here' s part of it.
FLYING MACHINE SOARS 3 MILES IN TEETH OF HIGH WIND OVER SAND HILLS AND WAVES AT KITTY HAWK ON CAROLINA COAST
No Balloon Attached to Hold It!!
December 17, 1903
The problem of aerial navigation without the use of a balloon has been solved at last! Over the sand hills of the North Carolina coast yesterday, near Kittyhawk, two Ohio men proved that they could soar through the air in a flying machine of their own construction, with the power to steer and speed it at will. This, too, in the face of a wind blowing at the registered velocity of twenty-one miles an hour! Like a monster bird, the invention hovered above the breakers and circled over the rolling sand hills at the command of its navigator and, after soaring for three miles, it gracefully descended to earth again, and rested lightly upon the spot selected by the man in the car as a suitable landing place.
While the United States government has been spending thousands of dollars in an effort to make practicable the ideas of Professor Langley, of the Smithsonian Institute, Wilbur and Orville Wright, two brothers, natives of Dayton, Ohio, have, quietly, even secretly, perfected their invention and put it to a successful test. They are not yet ready that the world should know the methods they have adopted in.
According to Billboard magazine, Connie Francis is the #1 female singer of the last 35 years.conquering the air, but the Virginian Pilot is able to state authentically the nature of their invention, its principles and its chief dimensions.[Ed. note: the flight began with the plane rolling down a track.] Wilbur Wright, the chief inventor of the machine, sat in the operator's car, and when all was ready his brother unfastened the catch which held the invention at the top of the slope. The big box began to move slowly at first, acquiring velocity as it went, and when halfway down the hundred feet the engine was started, When the end of the incline was reached the machine shot out into space without a perceptible fall. Keeping its altitude, the machine slowly began to go higher and higher until it finally soared sixty feet above the ground. Maintaining this height, the forward speed of the huge affair increased until a velocity of eight miles was attained.
All this time the machine headed into a twenty-one-mile wind. The little crowd of fisher- folk and coast guards, who have been watching the construction of the machine with unconcealed curiosity since September, were amazed. They endeavored to race over the sand and keep up with the thing in the air, but it soon distanced them and continued its flight alone. Steadily it pursued its way, first tacking to port, then to starboard, and then driving straight ahead.
"It is a success," declared Orville Wright to the crowd on the beach after the first mile had been covered. But the inventor waited. Not until he had accomplished three miles, putting the machine through all sorts of maneuvers en route, was he satisfied. Then he selected a suitable place to land and, gracefully circling, drew his invention slowly to the earth, where it settled, like some big bird, in the chosen spot.
"Eureka!" he cried. The success of the Wright brothers in their invention is the result of three years of hard work. The spot selected for the building and perfecting of the machine is one of the most desolate upon the Atlantic seaboard; no better place could scarcely have been selected to maintain secrecy. It is said the Wright brothers intend constructing a much larger machine, but before this they will go back to their homes for the holidays.