A number of animations have been created depicting Wilbur and Orville Wright’s early glider flights and their first successful powered flights on 17 December 1903. Our purposes on this WorldAloft website are quite different.

Here we are attempting (1) to explain the flights of the Wright brothers in the context of flights worldwide—particularly during the year 1908 when the world went aloft and (2) the distinctiveness of flight for the Wright brothers when they flew at Kitty Hawk in those early years as opposed to the other flying fields they were obliged to use when they practiced at Dayton or began flying publicly at Washington, DC, and in Europe.

So as to demonstrate the timing and relative lengths of powered flights world wide prior to 31 December 1908 when Wilbur Wright completed his longest and most dramatic flight of 2 hours and 18 minutes, we have prepared an animated table of the sequence and length of all recorded powered flights by any flyers up until that time.   Thus check WorldAloft Takeoffs below.

We have also animated the most successful passenger carrying flight of the Wrights at Kitty Hawk when they returned there for experiments in April and May 1908.  On the morning of 14 May 1908, the Wrights made their first attempts to carry a passenger.   Their contract with the US army required them to fly up to an hour with a passenger on board. Wilbur went aloft with their mechanic Charles Furnas for a short flight of 28 seconds over a distance of 600 meters (1/3 mile) early that morning. The flight ended abruptly when Wilbur pushed or pulled their new control system too quickly.  Shortly thereafter Orville attempted another flight with Furnas onboard. This flight lasted for over four minutes and covered a distance of 4,120 meters (2.5 miles) and resulted in a complete circle around the entire Kill Devil Hills flying field. Our abbreviated animation shows the nature and distance of this flight. 

The second flight we have animated is a recreation of the first take offs completed by Wilbur Wright at the Hunaudieres Racetrack in LeMans. One will immediately note that for the flights in LeMans (and, indeed, all successful flights by the Wrights other than at Kitty Hawk prior to 1909), the Wrights were compelled to use a derrick and weight catapult system for all of their starts. Our purpose in this second animation is to dramatize the difference and greater complication for the Wrights in completing takeoff s where they did not enjoy the fairly steady and reliable winds of Kitty Hawk and the soft sands for failed starts. While the winds were their starting device at Kitty Hawk and the catapult elsewhere, in both places they used starting tracks for takeoff and beach inspired trucks to steady their plane prior to take off.   

Available Animations