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Who flew the the first airplane?

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December 13, 2017 6:38AM

Although the Wright brothers are largely credited for the first flight, lots of people beat the Wrights to powered, heavier-than-air takeoffs:

  • John Stringfellow launched a successful indoor flight with a small steam-powered model propeller plane in 1848. However, his flight was unmanned.
  • Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim's 7,000 pound Biplane Test-rig reached an altitude of 3 feet with three people on board on July 31, 1894 in London.
  • New Zealander Richard Pearse made short semi successful flights in a gasoline-powered plane, in mid-1903 (the year is disputed).

What the Wrights invented was the first practical airplane - one capable of controlled, sustained flight. Orville Wright flew "Flyer 1", the world's first piloted powered aeroplane, at Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, on December 17, 1903.

Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, commemorates the first successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine.

Orville Wright was the first person to fly in an airplane.

The Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur) are generally credited with the first manned flight of a powered aircraft (not a glider), in December, 1903. The first successful flight was flown by Orville on December 17, 1903.

Other claims to earlier manned flight include those of Richard Pearse of New Zealand (early 1903) and Gustave Whitehead (Weisskopf), a German-American in Connecticut (1901). However, information surrounding these flights remains ambiguous, unlike the photographed and publicized Wright experiments at Kitty Hawk, NC.