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Day in Engineering History Archive - December 17

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Note: These historical tidbits have been collected from various sources, mostly on the Internet. As detailed in this article, there is a lot of wrong information that is repeated hundreds of times because most websites do not validate with authoritative sources. On RF Cafe, events with hyperlinks have been verified.
Please submit significant historical events and dates for inclusion in these lists. I will be glad to include your name and birthday. Please do not submit your death date ;-) A couple years ago, I began commemorating the birthdays of notable people and events with special RF Cafe logos. Where available, I like to use images from postage stamps from the country where the person or event occurred.

December 17

Anniversary of Powered Flight - the Wright Brothers.  Please click here to visit RF Cafe.

1797: Joseph Henry, discoverer of the principle of self-induction, and after whom the unit of inductance is named, was born. 1861: Co-discoverer of the radio reflecting properties of the ionosphere in the upper atmosphere (the Kennelly-Heaviside layer), and first to apply complex number analysis to AC circuits, Arthur Kennelly, was born. 1880: The Edison Electric Illuminating Company of NY was incorporated for the purpose of providing electric light to New York City. 1892: George Brayton, who invented the first commercially produced internal combustion engine and developed the Brayton cycle, died. 1903: Near Kitty Hawk, NC, the Wright Brothers, with Orville at the controls, made the first recorded flight in their self propelled, heavier than air machine called the Wright B Flyer. 1907: Lord Kelvin, after whom the absolute temperature scale is named, died. 1908: American chemist Willard Libby, who won the Nobel Prize for his development of carbon-14 dating, was born. 1969: The U.S. Air Force closed its Project "Blue Book" by concluding there was no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships to support the thousands of claimed UFO sightings. 1974: The millionth trademark was registered.


100th Anniversary of Flight
On this date in 1903, at Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Orville Wright, winning a coin toss, piloted the airplane that he and his brother, Wilbur, designed and built to make the world's first controlled, heavier-than-air flight in a self-powered aircraft. The flight covered 120 feet in 12 seconds. The fourth and last of that day lasted 59 seconds for 852 feet.
The Wrights conducted hundreds of tests using kites and gliders to develop the design for the 1903 Flyer. The wingspan steadily grew, from 5 feet for their 1899 biplane kite, to 17½ feet for the 1900 glider, to 22 feet in 1901, to 32 feet in 1902, and finally to more than 40 feet for the first powered airplane.
The Flyer used a simple three-axis steering system that controlled pitch, roll and yaw. The custom-built 4-cylinder, 12-HP engine had no spark plugs, carburetor, fuel pump or water pump, and weighed 200 lbs. Wind tunnels were built to test their airframe and control theories.
To this day there are people who claim the Wrights were beaten to the record, but no credible witnesses have ever justified any of them. Even Samuel Langley, then the head of the Smithsonian Institute, battled the brothers to the point that they originally placed their Flyer in an English museum instead of his. Please, no e-mails with supporting evidence ;-)
The Wright Experience
National Air & Space Museum
NASA - The Wright Way
U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission
First Flight Centennial
Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company

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