EUROPE DEMONSTRATION FLIGHTS—1908
Posted on 11 January 2021
Demonstrations in Europe, flying the Wright Model A over Camp d’Auvours, LeMans, France, 1908.
Exactly two weeks before New Year’s Eve in 1903, the Wright brothers had made the first successful heavier-than-air flight of 120 feet, but the world was skeptical that they had conquered flight until 1908, when Wilbur Wright traveled to Europe and shocked the world with the Wright brothers’ flying machine invention. Wilbur made his first flight demonstration in Le Mans, France, before a crowd of 200. Within a week, the crowd had grown to 10,000. Before Wilbur left France, 100,000 people a day were coming to watch him fly. On Dec. 31, 1908, Wilbur secured the brothers’ place in history as the inventors of powered flight when he flew 77 miles in a 2-hour, 20-minute flight. Almost overnight the Wright brothers had become the world’s first global celebrities, and in five years they had traveled through the air from that famous first flight of 120 feet to 77 miles.
Like those doubters before Wilbur's flights in 1908, we often don’t clearly see the present until it’s in our past. What has challenged us in 2020 can also fuel our optimism and push us forward (like a Wright hand-carved propeller) with anticipation for a better and brighter 2021.
“IT IS NOT REALLY NECESSARY TO LOOK TOO FAR INTO THE FUTURE; WE SEE ENOUGH ALREADY TO BE CERTAIN THAT IT WILL BE MAGNIFICENT. ONLY LET US HURRY AND OPEN THE ROADS.”
Wilbur Wright's speech accepting the Gold Medal from the Aero Club of France in Paris, November 5, 1908