December 17, 1903

Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully made the first four sustained flights of a heavier-than-air machine under the complete control of the pilot at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, 109 years ago yesterday. Their fourth attempt, at 10:35 am, lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet.

The photograph (click to enlarge) “shows Orville Wright at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright running alongside to balance the machine, has just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing.” (Source: Library of Congress)