Mankind has always wanted to fly like a bird. In fact the term aviation, coined in 1863 by the French aviation pioneer Guillaume Joseph Gabriel de La Landelle, stems from the Latin word avis, meaning ‘bird’.
The history of aviation can be traced back 2000 years when inventors started experimenting with kites, hot air balloons and gliders, while in China, kite flying is documented as far back as several hundred years BC.
The first engine-powered aircraft, however, was invented by the American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright, who in 1903 conducted their first successful flight, prompting Wilbur to declare ‘Flight is possible to man.’ On 17th December their flying machine, carrying a man rose to 19 feet under its own power, travelled 120 feet and descended safely 12 seconds later.
After making two longer flights that same day, the brothers informed the press of the success and date was celebrated as the birth of the first real airplane.
An extract from “Six pioneering first flights“