Historic First Flight
As I write this, today is the 119th anniversary of the Wright Brother’s historic first flight. One hundred nineteen years ago, on December 17, 1903, on the wind-swept sand-dunes of Kill Devil Hill in North Carolina, Orville Wright successfully made the first flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft, the Wright Flyer! He was only airborne for the short distance of 120’. The brothers, Orville, and Wilbur, who by trade owned a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, built their aircraft out of wood. In 1903 there were no other airplanes in existence. So, they had to build one.
And, using their own crude (by modern standards) engineering methods, through experimentation, trial, and error, they were able to build a simple ‘airframe’ structure that worked. And they had to find a mechanic to build the two engines for their airplane, because there was no internal combustion engine available that suited their purposes, either. They found one, locally. They were pioneers, and were starting an industry, but they were not aware of that, in their day.
How far we’ve come in 119 years! It’s amazing. What’s next? We take air travel for granted now. And how the airplane and air transportation have shaped the world that we live in today. Air transportation has influenced war and peace. Air commerce is now a driving force both in our culture and our world today, and has spawned an entire industry that moves millions of people and tons of cargo, annually. Even in remote corners of the planet.
Among the milestones since the first flight in 1903; in October 1944, a young USAF officer and test pilot, Chuck Yeager, broke the ‘sound barrier’ in an experimental rocket-powered aircraft, the Bell X-1, which he had named Glamorous Glennis, after his wife. And then in July 1969, the US put a man on the moon. Today, long-haul airliners span oceans and continents, flying up to 14 hours non-stop.
And for the occasion, I flew my Cessna 150 on a one-hour local flight, from Long Beach, because I had not flown it in 3 weeks. I’ve been busy or the weather has not been good enough to fly.
And, with this being December, this will be my last blog post for this year. Starting next month, in the new year, I will start to focus more on avionics (aviation electronics), which has become a huge industry in itself over the past twenty years. Now even the smallest of aircraft have instrument panels that are entirely ‘glass’, as it is called. How far we’ve come.
I would be remiss if I did not mention UAV’s, (unmanned aerial vehicles), which are a component of the UAS, or unmanned aircraft system, aka drones! They have become very popular in recent years, and now fill an increasingly important role in our world today.
And the FAA even has a separate certificate for drone operators, called the Remote Pilot Certificate, or RPC. I took the online training for this last year, to get a better understanding of drones, and now I have a Remote Pilot Certificate. It’s not a pilot certificate. It’s separate.
Goals and Adventures
As for any goals for next year, there are more airplanes that I hope to be able to fly, and more adventures that I hope to be able to take, when I am able to. I have a long bucket list! And it looks like I will be getting re-hired to go back to my job, after 2 years, 8 months being out of work. Ironically, work might get in the way of some adventures!
Possible adventures include an attempt at a record-setting flight in my 150 (yes, really). A record-setting flight will have to meet both US and FAI (Swiss-based Fédération Aeronautic Internationale) requirements and will likely be a one-way flight from Long Beach, CA (KLGB), to Chandler, AZ (KCHD), with a fuel stop in Blythe, CA (KBLH). I’ll just have to see how things go…
If you the reader, are in need of any proficiency or FAA Wings Training, let me know.
Fly safely, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year,
The Wrights never get old. It’s such an American story of hope and persistence.