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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.

 

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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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