I Have Today Seen Wilbur Wright and his Great White Bird
The airplane debuted to rave reviews.
- By Mary Collins
- Air & Space magazine, March 2003
Library of Congress NEG. #LC-W861-1
(Page 2 of 7)
At the time, few lay people understood the difference between flying for miles in an airship and piloting an airplane. The fact that Orville stayed aloft for 12 seconds in front of a handful of men didn’t make very good copy. A Virginian-Pilot reporter decided to embellish his story.
“Flying Machine Soars 3 Miles in Teeth of High Wind Over Sand Hills and Waves at Kitty Hawk on Carolina Coast
“Steadily it pursued its way, first tacking to port, then to starboard, and then driving straight ahead.
“ ‘It’s a success,’ declared Orville Wright to the crowd on the beach after the first mile had been covered.
“But the inventor waited. Not until he had accomplished three miles, putting the machine through all sorts of maneuvers en route, was he satisfied.
“Then he selected a suitable place to land, and gracefully circling drew his invention slowly to earth, where it settled, like some big bird, in the chosen spot.
“ ‘Eureka,’ he cried, as did the alchemists of old.”
—Virginian-Pilot, December 18, 1903 The Dayton Evening Herald, which had run the Virginian-Pilot’s outlandish version of the Wrights’ first flight, published the brothers’ correction three weeks later.