December 17th, 1903 at 10:35 am marked the beginning of aviation as we now know it. The Wright brothers launched the Wright Flyer into the air near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina with Wilbur Wright at the controls. The aircraft stayed airborne for twelve seconds and covered a distance of one hundred and twenty feet. This was the culmination of many years of hard work and research to achieve these results.
The Wright brothers had overcome numerous setbacks and challenges in their quest for controlled, sustained, and powered flight. First, they conquered the control aspect of flight through the use of wing warping and attaching two fixed vertical fins to a single moveable rudder. This allowed them to achieve turns while in flight and pivot the body of the airplane toward the downward wings so as to avoid sliding the aircraft sideways. Secondly, the Wright brothers overcame the problem of how to power the Wright Flyer using both an engine and a propeller that they designed and built. The engine was a four cylinder, water-cooled engine that produced about 12 horsepower. The two propellers were connected to the engine by two bicycle chains and turned in opposite directions to counteract the torque produced by each one. The Wright brothers were bicycle builders by trade, but clearly engineers by nature. Their contribution to modern aviation is immeasurable and it’s nearly impossible to say where aviation would be today without this event.
Next, the Air Mail Act of 1925 authorized the Post Office Department to contract for air mail service. One of the provisions in the act allowed the contractors to be paid 80 percent of the air mail profits for carrying it. This created the incentive needed to get big business involved in aviation and marked the beginning of commercial aviation in the United States. This act also had the effect of creating demand for newer and larger aircraft and spurred major growth in... [continues]
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