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Exhibition Not an Ostrich: & Other Images from America's Library

John T. Daniels and Wilbur and Orville Wright. First flight, December 17, 1903 [First flight, 120 feet in 12 seconds, 10:35 a.m.; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina]. December 17, 1903. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (38.00.00)

JOHN T. DANIELS. Orville Wright’s First Flight. Distance: 120 feet. Time: 12 seconds. Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, December 17, 1903

The first powered, controlled, and sustained flight was photographed with Orville Wright at the controls, lying prone on the lower wing, his hips in the cradle that operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright, running alongside to balance the machine, has just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing. The starting rail, the wing-rest, a coil box, and other items needed for flight preparation are visible behind the machine. (Orville Wright preset the camera and had John T. Daniels squeeze the rubber bulb, tripping the shutter.)