The Wright Brothers Circa 1909
Having successfully demonstrated their airplane in Europe and forming a company in France, the Wright brothers were now world famous celebrities. In 1909, just one year later, the world had changed mankind was no longer chained to the earth and everything seemed possible. This is the year that powered flight comes to age.
The Europeans would now take the ball and run with it advancing the art of flight to a new height never before seen. On July 25, 1909, Frenchman Louis Blériot flies the English Channel in a monoplane of his own design. In August of 1909, the first air competition held at the “Reims” in France now focused the attention of the world’s governments and the public’s eye to the maturity and practicality of the airplane.
In America by 1909, the airplane was still looked upon as an oddity. Hery few have ever witnessed the flight of an airplane. At Fort Myer, VA the year before, Orville crashed, killing his military observer Thomas Selfridge. The accident postponed the government contract with the Wright brothers. On August 2, 1909, Orville, now recovered from his injuries, was able to complete the contract with the US government - the first airplane put in service by any government. On October 4, 1909, at the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in New York City, Wilbur flies from Governors Island to Grants Tomb and back (20 mile flight). On that day in America, flight comes to age when, for the first time, more that one million spectators witnessed the flight of an airplane.
By the end of the year, the Wright Company, the first airplane company in America, was incorporated with a capital stock of $1,000,000. The Wright brothers’ involvement in the aviation business would last only six years and in the end profited from their invention.
Did You Know?
Although the town of Kitty Hawk is always associated with the exploits of the Wright brothers, most of their flying experiments took place about 4 miles to the south on the sands of Kill Devil Hills. The town of Kill Devil Hills, where the memorial is located, was incorporated in 1953.