Who Actually Achieved First in Flight

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Most textbooks teach us that on December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright literally flew into history when they completed the world’s first powered flight. However, since that flight, controversy has been raging over who actually achieved first in flight. Although the Wright Brothers have been historically proven to have achieved the first, sustained, powered, controlled, heavier-than-air, manned flight, they were not truly the first fly. In order to accurately understand why the Wright Brothers were not actually the first to achieve flight, we must first consider all of the previous successful flights, using machines, such as, balloons, gliders, and aircraft.
Some of the first manned flights occurred during the late 1700’s using hot air balloons. The hot air balloon was originally invented by the Mongolfier Brothers (Civil Air Patrol 7). The Mongolfier Brothers saw a force at work in a fire; the force caused sparks and smoke to rise into the air. However, the Brothers did not understand what this force was; and, consequently, they thought that the fire created a new, lighter-than-air gas, which they named Mongolfier gas (Civil Air Patrol 7). The Mongolfier gas was actually nothing more than heated air, which is less dense than cold air. Because hot air is less dense than colder air, it raises into the atmosphere, carrying with it anything that it is contained within. In order to harness this force, the Mongolfier Brothers needed to create something to keep it contained.
The Mongolfier Brothers first created a small, silk bag with an opening in the bottom (Civil Air Patrol 7). They attached a small basket underneath of the bag with which they lit a fire in. The fire heated the air inside the balloon, which made th...

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Although the Wright Brothers did not achieve the first flight, they have been historically proven to have achieved the first powered, manned, sustained, controlled, heavier-than-air flight, while also continuously improving upon their designs and marketing their aircraft to the military. Even though the Wright Brothers have their rightful place in history, we must not forget about those other early aviation pioneers who successfully constructed and flew many other aircraft designs well before December 17, 1903.

Works Cited
Bellis, Mary. History of Airships and Balloons. n.d. 12 February 2014.
Civil Air Patrol. Aerospace: The Journey of Flight. Ed. Jeff Montgomery. Maxwell Air Force Base: Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters, 2000.
Goyer, Robert. "Wright Brothers Not First?" Flying (2013): 8, 10.
Who flew before the Wright Brothers? n.d. 16 January 2014.

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