The Wright Brothers First Took To The Skies 109 Years Ago Today

Today marks the anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright's first successful flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. With Orville as pilot, they were the first to give man the heavier-than-air, self-powered wings that allowed them to soar 120 ft in 12 seconds and tear Icarus a new one in the process.

After their groundbreaking achievement, they walked the four miles back to Kitty Hawk to send this telegram to their father:

Success four flights Thursday morning all against twenty-one mile wind started from level with engine power alone average speed through air thirty one miles longest 57 seconds inform Press home Christmas.

It wasn't long before the rest of the world realized the significance of the Wrights' new contraption; they entered a contract with the U.S. Army Signal Corps and were testing "Military Flyers" just a year later. The U.S. Post Office, too, realized its potential and created the Air Mail Service in 1918 (which subsequently gave us transcontinental routes and runway lighting).

The above photo, which documents their first lift off the ground, was taken by John T. Daniels of the Kill Devil Hills Life-Saving station. One of the most incredible things about this image is that, with it, Daniels managed to capture the exact moment that technological and societal history would change forever. [The Atlantic]