Monday, October 15, 2018

A Coin Toss Changed the History of Flight

We have seen the  iconic photo of Orville Wright flying in the plane in Kitty Hawk in 1903 and lifting off for 12 seconds and changing the history of modern flight forever. But what you don't know  is that history depended on which way a penny turned in the ocean wind three days before on Dec 14. That was when the Wright Brothers flipped a coin to see who would fly  first. Wilbur won and took off only to crash very quickly. Three days later Orville would fly and a box camera would record the image for all time.
And the world would make the assumption then that Orville was the father of flight as much as Wilbur. The fact that Wilbur would follow the 12 second flight with a 59 second flight would be hidden way in the annals of history. The first twelve seconds of flight had Orville as the pilot and historians would look up this as evidence he was as much a participant in cracking the code of flight as his brother. The coin toss would be mentioned then quickly forgotten.

But if the toss had gone the other way then Wilbur would have been the man to fly on Dec 17 1903 and he would have been the man whom history deemed to have broken the Rubicon of flight. History would have been altered forever. But as it was, the myth of the Wright Brothers began here.

Wright Brothers Wrong Story

Books by William Hazelgrove