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Day in Engineering History Archive - December 17

Day in Engineering History December 17 Archive - RF CafeDecember 17

Anniversary of Powered Flight - the Wright Brothers - RF Cafe1797: 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

Current Aeronautical Weather

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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. Many 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. Images used in the logos are often from open source websites like Wikipedia, and are specifically credited with a hyperlink back to the source where possible. Fair Use laws permit small samples of copyrighted content.

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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