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How to Use the Images


Inquiry Question

Historical Context



Photos 1 & 2
Photo 3
Photo 4
Photos 6 & 7


Table of

Visual Evidence

Photo 5: Liftoff on December 17, 1903. [Photo 5] with link to larger version of photo.
(National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, SI-2002-16646)

Before climbing onto the plane on the morning of December 17, 1903, Orville Wright carefully set up his camera and asked John Daniels, one of the lifesavers, to snap the shutter just as the Flyer left the ground. Orville wrote, "This flight lasted only 12 seconds, but it was nevertheless the first in the history of the world in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed forward without reduction of speed, and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it had started."¹

Questions for Photo 5

1. Why do you think Orville Wright set up his camera for this occasion? What does it tell you about his expectations for that day? Who took the photo?

2. What do you think is the significance of capturing this moment on film (to people of the time period and today)?

3. Based on Photo 5 and Reading 2, how was the Flyer launched? Based on Orville's quote, why was it important to launch the plane from level ground?

4. What parts of the Flyer can you identify in this photo? What made the Flyer different from the gliders?

¹As quoted in Russell Freedman, The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane (New York: Holiday House, 1991), 76.

* The photo on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Photo 5, but be aware that the file will take as much as 25 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.



Comments or Questions

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