Educators Smithsonian Education
The Wright Brothers
Lesson Plan
Preparation - Background on Virginian-Pilot Story - Activity Steps - Assesment and Enrichment

Group E: Magazine Article

“The Wright Brothers’ Aeroplane” by Wilbur and Orville Wright, in The Century Magazine, September 1908

The first flights with the power-machine were made on the 17th of December, 1903.  Only five persons besides ourselves were present.  These were Messrs. John T. Daniels, W.S. Dough, and A.D. Etheridge of the Kill Devil Life Saving Station; Mr. W.C. Brinkley of Manteo, and Mr. John Ward of Naghead.  Although a general invitation had been extended to people living within five or six miles, not many were willing to face the rigors of a cold December wind in order to see, as they no doubt thought, another flying-machine not fly.  The first flight lasted only twelve seconds, a flight very modest compared with that of birds, but it was, nevertheless, the first in the history of world in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in free flight, had sailed forward on a level course without reduction of speed, and had finally landed without being wrecked.  The second and third flights were a little longer, and the fourth lasted fifty-nine seconds, covering a distance of 852 feet over the ground against a twenty-mile wind.

After the last flight, the machine was carried back to camp and set down in what was thought to be a safe place.  But a few minutes later, while we were engaged in conversation about the flights, a sudden gust of wind struck the machine, and started to turn it over. All made a rush to stop it, but we were too late.  Mr. Daniels, a giant in stature and strength, was lifted off his feet, and falling inside, between the surfaces, was shaken about like a rattle in a box as the machine rolled over and over.  He finally fell out upon the sand with nothing worse than painful bruises, but the damage to the machine caused a discontinuance of experiments.

Required Materials

Graphic Organizer

Group A: Diary

Group B: Telegram

Group C: Letter

Group D: Interview

Group E: Magazine

Entire Class: Newspaper

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