"It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.” — Wilbur Wright, American Aviation Pioneer —
Established by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959, December 17 is Wright Brothers Day, commemorating the day that American aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew history’s first mechanically propelled airplane. For 12 seconds, Orville Wright soared over the skies of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, nearing a total flight distance of 120 feet — a site that has been the Wright Brothers National Memorial since 1927. The two siblings were self-taught engineers had sought to solve “the flying problem” from a very young age after being inspired by French aviator Alphonse Pénaud, whose rubber-band-powered flying machine was the first aerodynamically stable flying model. The Wright Brothers’ immense contributions to modern life are almost immeasurable — every day, the Federal Aviation Administration provides service to more than 44,000 flights and 2.7 million airline passengers.