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YouTube Gold: The First Military Test Flight In History

As Orville Wright takes an officer up for more than an hour.

Orville Wright and Lt Lahm in Plane over Fort Myer
Orville Wright and Lt Lahm in Plane over Fort Myer

Probably everyone reading this will have great-grandparents, grandparents or conceivably parents who were born before the Wright Brothers proved that heavier-than-air flight was possible.

That of course happened in Kitty Hawk in 1903. There’s a very nice monument there that we would recommend visiting if you’re out that way.

Anyway, it was a milestone for humanity and in the 119 years since, aviation has dramatically expanded. Transcontinental flights and jets took it to one level; now, computing, AI and engineering are going to take it to others.

Militaries have advanced flight technology in many ways. The very first military plane was bought by the US Army around 1908 and entered service in 1909.

It’s nothing Tom Cruise would show up for. To our eyes, this is close to the original flyer of 1903, although they had made many improvements and modifications. But you’ll see in this clip that they still used the track to launch it and, broadly speaking, the shape is much like the original.

This video is the original test flight. Aside from the genius to make this possible, when you look at the plane and how fragile it is, and how they sit, it took a lot of nerve to even consider flying this thing.