The urge to fly is one of man’s oldest ambitions but it became a reality only 75 years ago when the first successful flight in a powered airplane took place. Even at the moment of its birth, the aeroplane was the creation of no one nation or technology but a culmination of the efforts made by a number of enterprising people from different parts of the world at different times.
On the 17th December 1903 a proud father of two bicycle manufactu-rers received a telegram sent from Ketty Hawk. North Carolina, which read as follows:
“Success/four flights Thursday Average speed through the air thirty one miles/longest 59 seconds/inform press/home Christmas”.
The experiments of the two brothers, Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright, with the man-lifting gliders among the sand dunes near Kitty Hawk had produced the World’s first successful heavier-than-air powered flying machine and made them the pioneers of air age. From then onwards the dream of flight which had transcended all national boundaries throughout the yesterdays became a reality.
This successful heavier-than-air powered flying machine known as the “Flyer” was catapulted into the air from a small trolley running on a railway. The pilot lay face down on the wing. The ‘Flyer’ had a 40-foot wing span and was about 21 feet long; its 12 horse-power engine gave it a speed of around 31 mph depending on the strength of head winds. Orville Wright made the first flight (17th December 1903) covering a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds. on the last of three further flights that day Wilbur was airborne for 59 seconds. Their total flight that day of 97 seconds of air time made their ‘Flyer’ the most famous aeroplane in history. Later variations of the ‘Flyer’, such as Flyer No. Ill and the one taken to France by Wilbur Wright in 1S08~ were fully maneuverable and were fitted with two skeletal seats.
The achievement in aviation ever since is the saga of the ever growing success and accomplishments of mankind opening up new vistas of exploration of the hitherto unknown and boundless Universe and establishing its sway over all other beings on this beautiful earth of ours so bountifully endowed to us by God-The Almighty.
Today aviation has brought the people all over the world closer to each other and has played a remarkable role in the spread and dissemination of knowledge. It has altogether transformed the concept of distance and time and is making people and goods fly safely, quickly, economically and sufficiently. Few inventions in history have had such far-reaching effects as the flying machine.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the first Powered Flight Pakistan Post office is issuing a set of four Commemorative postage stamps of the values of 65 paisa, Re. 1/-, Rs.2/- and Rs. 2.25 on 24th December, 1978.