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In December we celebebrated Wright Brothers Day.

On Sept. 24, 1959, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared Dec. 17 to be Wright Brothers Day. Four years later, Congress, by a joint resolution -- which was approved on Dec. 17, 1963 -- designated Dec. 17 of each year as "Wright Brothers Day" and authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation inviting the people of the United States to observe that day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. President Trump ended the proclamation last year with "Now, Therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 17, 2018, as Wright Brothers Day." However, this is not a national holiday.

Let me ask. In this day of moon, Mars, and solar system exploration, what's so special about the Wright Brothers? Who were they? I'm glad you asked. Wilbur and Orville Wright are the American pioneers who got us started in this direction.

Wilbur, born in 1867, and Orville, born in 1871, were life-long friends: inseparable except in death. Their father, Milton Wright, was a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, so the brothers were called the Bishop's boys. Neither of them ever married. When asked about marriage, Wilbur told people that he didn't have time for both a wife and his airplane work.

Just out of high school, they started a printing business, and published a weekly newspaper called the West Side News. A year later, they expanded to a daily edition called the Evening Item. That lasted four months.

In 1892 they changed directions. Closing the printing venture, they built a bicycle sales and repair business. Eventually creating their own model of bicycles, their success provided the finances to pursue their real dream: manned flight.

With no schooling past high school, and no engineering training, they used their natural curiosity and God-given intelligence in this endeavor. They began by studying the structure of birds and the shape of their feathers. Using light-weight bicycle components for the structure, and muslin for the wing surfaces, they began studying gliders which had been in use since 1853, and building their own.

Needing an ideal location to experiment with their gliders, they looked for open space, soft landing in case they lost control, and steady wind for lift. They found that place at Kitty Hawk, N.C., and made numerous trips for experimentation. Today that is 1,352 miles round-trip, and almost 22-hours on the road. But that's where they conducted their tests.

The brothers built their own version of a wind-tunnel to experiment with lift and the shape of the wings. After improving on the glider concept and flying them, the brothers worked on a design for holding cargo. And, of course, an engine would be necessary to power the craft. The primary challenge was to create the mechanism for manual control in flight, and they created the controls that made fixed-wing flight possible. This was probably the Wright Brothers' greatest contribution to the world of flight.

With the assistance of their shop mechanic, Charlie Taylor, they created their own light-weight engines out of aluminum, and made three-ply propellers out of spruce. Finally completing their first production model named, Wright Flyer, they headed to Kitty Hawk in early December of 1903.

The ideal flying conditions didn't appear until Dec. 14, and they were ready. Wilbur and Orville flipped a coin to see who would fly first. Older brother Wilbur won, but things didn't go right and the Wright Flyer suffered minor damage.

Three days later, Dec. 17, the craft had been repaired, the weather conditions were good, and it was Orville's turn to try it. The wind was blowing, the engine revved, the plane began moving, and Wilbur ran alongside to keep it balanced. Then it happened.

The Wright Flyer flew for 12 seconds for 120 feet. That's only one third the length of a football field. BUT IT FLEW!

They made a total of four flights that day, then a strong gust of wind flipped the plane and wrecked it. But no one was hurt. That plane never flew again, but history was made!

The Wright Brothers believed in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and they followed the dream God gave them. How about you? Do you have a dream that's been cooking, or perhaps simmering? Do you wish to do something meaningful in life? Pray about it. If you cooperate with God, nothing can stop you from fulfilling His will for your life.


Editorial on 01/08/2020

Print Headline: Recognizing Wright Brothers Day

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