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6th of May 1896

17 December 1903 was the date of the first flight of a heavier than air powered aircraft. Manned by Orville Wright the Wright Flyer flew for 12 seconds.


7 1/2 years earlier a heavier than air powered aircraft already took to the air from a boat on the Potomac River after a catapult launch. The steam-powered aircraft was a 25-pound model, named number 5 by its constructor/inventor Samuel Langley (1834-1906). A total of two flights were made that day covering a distance of 2,300 ft (700 m) and 3,300 ft (1,000 m) respectively. 10 times further than the previous model. It took Langley more than 4 years to reach this milestone.

The flights demonstrated that the craft was stable and enough lift could be generated.

Langley would continue to research powered and manned flight, however lacked a three axes control system like the Wright brothers invented. And thus "lost" the race......


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