The first ever bonafide manned aircraft from 1903 only flew once but still exists today

  • The first ever manned aircraft took off in 1903
  • It was created by the Wright Brothers
  • Today, the original aircraft is on display in a museum

Published on Jun 26, 2024 at 6:11 PM (UTC+4)
by Siddharth Dudeja

Last updated on Jun 26, 2024 at 6:11 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

On one random day in December 1903, two brothers did something that shaped the entirety of aviation as we know it – the Wright Brothers flew the first-ever manned aircraft, the Wright Flyer, or Flyer 1903, for the first and only time.

Today, it’s sitting in a museum on display, and you can go see it.

The first ever manned airplane took off near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and moved humans advanced by a considerable margin.

If you’re still wondering what was so special about this airplane, we’ll give you some context.

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The first manned aircraft is why all aircraft exist

Taking a flight to any country at any given time seems quite convenient now.

You just need to book a ticket, get a visa if needed, and board your plane.

However, imagine if there were no airplanes to begin with.

At present, we rely on all kinds of aircraft for all kinds of things.

There’s an aircraft involved in travel, transport, emergency services, communication, and even in matters of national security.

If all airplanes somehow stopped existing today, speaking plainly, human evolution could come to a halt.

Famous planes like Concorde would never exist if it weren’t for the Wright Flyer.

So, how did the Wright brothers create the world’s first controlled airplane?

Building the Wright Flyer

Well, the duo tested gliders in their place of residence, Kitty Hawk, from 1901 to 1902.

There were several prototypes, and the last glider became the foundation of the Wright Flyer.

But a glider couldn’t take off, so they needed an engine.

After gathering all sorts of makeshift parts, they put them all together and tried to make the thing fly.

The first attempt on December 14 didn’t go well, and the aircraft stalled and took significant damage.

After three days of repairs, the second attempt marked their place in history.

The aircraft flew, but only for short distances.

After several attempts and making changes, the Wright brothers recorded the longest flight distance of 852 feet in 59 seconds.

These numbers may look puny by modern-day standards, but they had achieved something remarkable.

After the last attempt, the aircraft sustained more damage than they could repair, so it never flew again.

After more than a century of its series of flights, the Wright Flyer sits on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

It’s there for the world to see.

Although there are exact replicas of the aircraft all across the world, the real one is in great condition at the museum.


Siddharth Dudeja

Siddharth is a tech nerd with a secret love of all things cars. He has been writing for a few years now, and on his free time you would find him gaming when he's not procrastinating.