SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Kitty Hawk: 1901

Kitty Hawk: 1901

1901. Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Wilbur Wright and glider just after landing. 4x5 dry-plate glass negative attributed to Orville Wright. View full size. The fogging of the negative at the bottom of the frame, combined with the skid marks in the sand from an earlier landing, create the illusion that the glider is still flying.

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The sands of time

I visited Kitty Hawk in the early 1970s. There wasn't much there but acres of sand, sea grass, a wide and endless beach, tremendous wind, a rough green ocean, and a small leaning shed. We were able to go up and touch the shed. It wasn't hard to imagine the two men working inside full of optimism and excitement. We half expected to see them walking up the beach, or come flying in for a landing. It was very exciting to stand on the same sand they flew over. I believe the site has been preserved more formally since we were there. Also when young, my mother and I took the city bus into downtown Dayton. Our bus drove past the little Wright Brothers shop. My mom always pointed it out to me. I feel fortunate to have seen both important places.

The winds of change

The Wright Brothers were interested in the dunes as hills from which to launch their gliders and later their powered airplane, but their biggest interest was the winds which are steady and consistent. It's ideal for the sort of large kites they were testing with initially and then for the gliders. For similar reasons Bell used his summer home at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, for his early aeronautical experiments.

The Wright place

This is the only picture I've ever seen that shows the Kitty Hawk dunes to good advantage. Now we know why they chose that location for their tests.

Nice Find!

I think I have read every book written about the Wright Bros. but I do not remember seeing this photo. I was sure he was flying before I read the caption!

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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