Wednesday, December 17, 2003

First in Flight

As Darth Swank points out, today is the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight at Kitty Hawk. Here is a good resource page on matters historical with regard to flight, including a Brazilian man who might well deserve to share the claim to "first flight". (Mickey mentioned this a few days ago, btw. It turns out that the distinction of who flew first depends, as often is the case, on definitions: what is a "flight?")

Also check out this grouping of seven "flights of fancy that fizzled", although a few toward the end -- relating to spaceflight and colonization -- are things that I don't really think it's fair to characterize as "fizzled" simply because they haven't happened yet. "If we haven't done it by now, we'll never do it" is never a particularly wise thing to believe.

(Speaking of which, I'm often of mixed mind on how the Space Age and the Flight Age intersect. It's not uncommon to read these articles about the Age of Flight and see how what began at Kitty Hawk naturally leads up to, say, Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong, but this seems to me to completely ignore the development of rocketry, which had its own pioneers -- Tsiolkovsky, Goddard -- and its own set of problems not related to sustained air flight.)

Anyway, it's been a fascinating hundred years!

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