Wilbur and Orville Wright proved on December 17, 1903, that a man-carrying flying machine, which was heavier than air, was actually possible during a successful test flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. "The machine flew for three miles in the face of a wind blowing at the registered velocity of 21 miles an hour and then gracefully descended to earth at the spot selected by the man in the navigator's car as a suitable place for landing. The machine has no balloon attachment, but gets its force from propellers worked by a small engine," an article in The Racine Daily Journal reported on December 18, 1903.
The historic flight brought on "the age of the flying machine," and while the Wright brothers could have postponed the trials until the end of winter, they were determined "to know whether the machine possessed sufficient power to fly, sufficient strength to withstand the shock of landings and sufficient capacity of control to make flight safe in boisterous winds as well as calm air," according to a statement from the Wrights published in The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette on January 12, 1904.
Unlike many others who tried to achieve the same feat, the Wright brothers' invention was not financed by any institution or company, but at their own expense. As a result, they were hesitant to release pictures or detailed descriptions of the successful flying machine for fear that their work would be copied.
"We will make no exhibition test of our flying machine, nor will we permit an examination of it. For our purposes neither is necessary, as those with whom we are in negotiation now for its purchase are already satisfied that it does all we claim for it. Our only market must be a powerful government, and publicity would only serve to defeat our purpose to make such a sale," the Wright brothers said in a statement in November of 1906, according to an article in The Weekly Sentinel, nearly three years after their first flight. "We do not have to have the newspapers tell us of our success, for we know, and those most important to us know that we have accomplished all we claim to have done."
On December 1, 1906, The Washington Post printed an article with the headline "Bombs For Sky Navy" that read, "The Bureau of Ordnance and Fortification, the most powerful board in the War Department, has been in touch with the Wright brothers, in Dayton, whose experiments with aeroplanes have caused much speculation. The government is convinced that the Wrights have made great progress." Newspaper articles in 1906 also hinted at the fact that the brothers were in negotiations with the French government over use of their plane.
In 1908, the Wright's plane was tested at Fort Myer in Virginia to determine the feasibility in using airships in the military. "Nothing in recent years has created greater...