The idea of flying has fascinated men since ancient days. In fact, one of our most famous legends tells of Icarus, who fastened wings to his body with wax in order to fly. However, when he flew off towards the sun, the wax melted and he fell to his death. Icarus is, no doubt, a symbol of man’s striving to achieve new heights.
Centuries ago, Leonardo da Vinci made sketches of flying machine that used manpower, and other artistes and “dreamers”. The earliest flying machines were made during 19th century. They were actually huge kites and gliders and had no power.
In fact, nobody could make a heavier than air machine that wad equipped with its own power. Professor Samuel Longely, secretary of Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C. was the first man who demonstrated that such a machine could be built. He built two machines, each 3.5 meters wide and 4.5 meters long, driven by 1.5 horsepower steam engines. In 1896, these two models were successfully flown. On 7th October, 1903 Longley’s full-sized flying machine was tested and was wrecked.
On 17th December, 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright were successful in making man’s first flight in a heavier-than-air machine with its own power. They made one flight of 30 meters in 12 seconds and another flight of 260 meters in 59 seconds at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The airplane was thus born.