Over a century ago, on windswept sand dunes on the Atlantic coast of the United States, Orville Wright climbed into a homemade flying machine built of wood, cloth, piano wire, and bicycle chains. Lying flat on his stomach, Orville lifted from the ground and flew for 12 seconds before coming down with a bump.
And that was the beginning of aircraft flight! Today, large numbers of people fly every year in airplanes that can stay airborne for hours and travel at speeds unimagined in Orville Wright’s day. Astronauts venture into space and have journeyed as far as the moon. So how did people turn the dream of flying like birds into a reality? And once airborne, how did the pioneers of flight develop the incredible aircraft that we see today?
In the search for answers to these questions, you’ll follow a story of heroic adventures—of people who crossed oceans and mountain ranges in tiny airplanes, or who pushed aircraft to the limits in the search for maximum speed.
You’ll learn what it was like to cruise in style in one of the great airships that once sailed the skies, or to pilot a rocket plane dropped like a bomb from another aircraft.
You’ll also encounter some of the world’s most extreme machines, from aircraft powered by bicycle pedals or sunlight to the mighty Saturn rocket that propelled astronauts on their course to the moon. So, fasten your seat-belts for a thrilling trip through the story of flight!
TO FLY LIKE A BIRD
have you ever secretly wished you could simply spread your arms and flap high into
the sky, just like a bird? Dreams such as this led our ancestors to invent machines that really could take to the air. From their first daring attempts in balloons and gliders, the passion for powered flight fast took shape.
Coming unstuck The ancient Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus tells the story of a father and son who tried to escape imprisonment on the island of Crete. They used wings made of feathers stuck together with wax.
Weird World IN 1853, SIR GEORGE CAYLEY MADE HIS COACHMAN FLY A SHORT DISTANCE IN A GLIDER. THE COACHMAN INSTANTLY QUIT HIS JOB, TELLING CAYLEY: “I WAS HIRED TO DRIVE, AND NOT TO FLY.”
The Wright idea In 1899, two brothers living in Ohio decided to try heavier- than-air flight. They were Wilbur and Orville Wright, and they ran a bicycle shop, making and selling their own bikes. Having read everything that had been written about flying, the Wrights built a glider in their workshop. In the summer of 1900, they took
it to Kitty Hawk, a tiny settlement on the coast of North Carolina, and set up their camp in the windswept sand dunes.
of their experiments. Two more summers passed at Kitty Hawk, and by 1903 the brothers were ready to fit a gasoline engine to their glider.
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