It was on 17 December 1903 that the whole aviation dream came alive with the Wright Brothers’ first four flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Their aircraft had to use a single track like a ship’s catapult, so they could have been naval aviators! Only the two Wright brothers and the five man crew (John T. Daniels, W. S. Dough, A. D. Etheridge, W. C. Brinkley of Manteo, and Johnny Moore of Nags Head) from the lifesaving station at Kill Devil Hills Head actually witnessed the first four flights that day. Later the Wrights would move their flying work to Huffman Prairie outside of Dayton, Ohio. Even back in Ohio, only a few hundred people observed the Wrights fly between 1904 and 1908.
Finally, in 1908 the Wright brothers would publicly demonstrate their aircraft to the United States and French governments. Wilbur would travel to France and fly his aeroplane on 08 August 1908 in conjunction with a few French aeroplanes. His demonstration showed the superiority of the Wright machine and one French pilot, Léon Delagrange, summed up the matter succinctly: “Nous sommes battus.” (We are beaten.) Below is a clip of Wilbur’s flight in France near Le Mans.
Orville would stay in the United States and fly a demonstration at Fort Meyers, Virginia, on 18 September, unfortunately on his third flight that day, one of his propeller blades snapped and his aeroplane crashed, killing his passenger Army Lieutenant Selfridge and badly injuring Orville.
After their 1908 demonstrations the Wrights were recognized around the world, as the first true aviators and a new world of flight was open to humankind.