By Presidential Proclamation, December 17th is Wright Brothers Day. Each year, a proclamation invites the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
The US Code directs that Wright Brothers Day commemorates the first successful flights in a heavier than air, mechanically propelled airplane. Orville and Wilbur Wright made that first successful flight on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. While other inventors created planes that flew, Orville and Wilbur invented the first mechanically propelled aeroplane. Those inventors that came before them inspired the Wright brothers in many ways, too.
From a young age, Orville Wright and his brother, Wilbur, developed a fascination with flight. Inspired by a rubber band propelled helicopter created by the inventor, Alphonse Penaud, the brothers dedicated their lives to the invention. They first found success manufacturing bicycles, including the Van Cleve and St. Clair.
They never lost interest in flight and continued to develop designs. By 1902, the future aviators were making progress with their gliders and nearing a successful mechanical flight. They sold their bicycle business, and on December 17, 1903, achieved their goal.
Orville Wright made the first flight for 12 seconds and 120 feet around the Wright Brothers National Memorial site, just south of Kitty Hawk on that date. While the Wright Brothers were not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, they are recognized as the first to invent aircraft controls that made the fixed-wing flight possible.