Powered flight was achieved on December 17, 1903, when Wilbur and Orville Wright became the first men in aviation history to be able to achieve powered flight.
Since the earliest of time man has dreamt of flight. One of the World's greatest artist, architect, inventor and philosopher, Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519), spent nearly twenty years of his life inventing various contraptions for use by man in the area of flight. His sketch books are filled with ideas that even include the earliest design for a parachute and even the helicopter (Helix).
Yet, before man could successfully take to the air, he had to learn the critical lessons of basic aerodynamics.
Anyone who has observed the prowess of the hawk in flight can only watch in awe. This magnificent bird-of-prey is able to glide through the sky on just the air currents alone, then suddenly, with its wings swept back, is able to dive down and sweep its prey in just moments. Yet, men would laugh at those who tried to emulate these magnificent creatures adding "If god wanted man to fly he would have given him wings."
For centuries man admired the birds of the air. Yet, man was not able to achieve his dream until the early twentieth century.
The Wright brothers' success was based on the creative genius of such visionary men as Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896), whose work with hang gliders in Germany attracted Octave Chanute (1832-1910), a Frenchman, to experiment with hang gliders in the United States. However, their experiments were largely based on the work of Lawrence Hargrave (1850-1915), an Australian, who invented the box kite.
Orville and Wilbur Wright had been interested in aviation ever since childhood. They studied the mechanics of bird flight and the hang-glider experiments of Lilienthal and in 1899, they built a kite to experiment with actual flight. They were on the right path, and in 1900 built a glider themselves. Modern aviation was finally born on a windy Thursday morning, on December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, when Oriville Wright took off, at 10:35 a.m., and flew the Wright Flyer I for 12 seconds.