Washington DC: National Air and Space Museum - 1903 Wright Flyer
On December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the 1903 Wright Flyer became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard. It flew forward without losing speed and landed at a point as high as that from which it started.
With Orville Wright as pilot, the airplane took off from a launching rail and flew for 12 seconds and a distance of 37 meters (120 feet). The airplane was flown three more times that day, with Orville and his brother Wilbur alternating as pilot. The longest flight, with Wilbur at the controls, was 260 meters (852 feet) and lasted 59 seconds.
The Flyer, designed and built by the Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville, was one step in a broad experimental program that began in 1899 with their first kite and concluded in 1905, when they built the first truly practical airplane. The basic problems of mechanical flight, lift, propulsion, and control were solved in the Wright design.
The National Air and Space Museum (NASM), administered by the Smithsonian Institute, maintains the largest collection of aircraft and spacecraft in the world and is a vital center for research into the history, science, and technology of aviation and spaceflight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics. Established along the National Mall on July 1, 1976, the museum was designed by Gyo Obata of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum as four simple marble-encased cubes containing the smaller and more theatrical exhibits, connected by three spacious steel-and-glass atrium which house the larger exhibits such as missiles, airplanes and spacecraft.
The Smithsonian Institution, an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its shops and its magazines, was established in 1846. Although concentrated in Washington DC, its collection of over 136 million items is spread through 19 museums, a zoo, and nine research centers from New York to Panama.