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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Testing Their Wings (Detail)

Testing Their Wings (Detail)

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. "Start of a glide; Wilbur in motion at left holding one end of glider (rebuilt with single vertical rudder), Orville lying prone in machine, and Dan Tate at right." October 10, 1902. 5x7 dry-plate glass negative attributed to the Wright Brothers. View full size. This is a detail from the post above.

 

The Glider

It's flying, the two men are just keeping it straight and level. The wind accelerated up the dunes strongly enough that the thing basically flew itself at walking speed, much the same as a seagull simply spreading its wings to become airborne and then floating (and climbing!) without seeming to move. Ground speed - zero. Airspeed - 20 knots.

Look at the puffs of sand at Orville's feet blown back. And his tie, too.

Wright Glider

The two men are holding the apparatus and pilot up with one hand each, so can we suppose that there was already some lift provided by the wind? Secondly, this structure is pretty strong if it can support the pilot from the two ends only, and without apparent bending.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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