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How Newsworthy Were the Wright Brothers’ First Flights?

It may surprise you to learn that news of the first-ever powered airplane flight was not covered by the mainstream press. It was actually a beekeeper named A.I. Root who first wrote about Orville and Wilbur Wright’s early flights in the pages of his obscure journal Gleanings in Bee Culture. Although Root didn’t witness the first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December 1903, he was on hand in September 1904 when the brothers took a plane up and circled around, returning to their starting place. The Wright brothers had obtained permission to use a local cow pasture known as Huffman Prairie, a few miles outside Dayton, Ohio. The owner did not charge them, but he did ask that the Wrights make sure his livestock were not harmed. Root witnessed several other flights at Huffman Prairie and reported the successes in his beekeeping journal.

The first family of fearless flying:

  • The Wrights built a hangar at Huffman Prairie and began experimenting with their second airplane. They started to use a catapult device to assist with takeoff in lighter winds.
  • The Wrights added weight to the front of their 1904 Flyer to shift the center of gravity forward and increase stability. They also moved the elevator farther ahead of the wings, which made the plane easier to fly.
  • It took 49 flights for the Wrights to equal their Kitty Hawk flight time. The first circular flight lasted 1 minute, 36 seconds and covered 4,080 feet (1.2 km).
Discussion Comments
By anon997448 — On Jan 09, 2017

A.I. Root was a gentleman who put the city of Medina, OH on the map! He raised his bees here, and the original building is still there. There is candle company named after him, and a middle school as well.

We have lived here 21 years and we love it!

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