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Wright Brothers Day

In North Carolina, on December 17th, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew. It was one of the most notably historic moments in world history, and an immense symbol of America's innovation and long term technological capabilities. This flight was unique because it was the first heavier-than-air excursion into the skies made by a mechanical plane. Although many probably overlook the day, it is celebrated as an observation.

Typically, this day is overshadowed by the major holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, and the forthcoming new year. Even so, the president usually makes a proclamation calling attention to the day and its importance as an integral part of American national history. Tourist locations in and around Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, are common. Another spot, a granite tower at the summit of Kill Devil Hill, is frequented because of its association with the Wright brothers' camp.

More than a century later we can see that air travel has come a long way. The plane developed by the Wright brothers was a single fixed-wing craft, but by the onset of the first World War, similar aircraft were already being used on a grand scale. By the second World War, they were an integral part of successes and failures by both sides. By the 50s, aviation was poised to usher in a new commercial revolution. In the 60s, the idea of flying was adapted yet again in a very big way: It was time to break through the upper atmosphere, orbit the planet, fly through space, and land men on the moon. The space race was underway, beginning with the successful launch of the Sputnik satellite by the U.S.S.R. The strides taken since then have more of an impact on our individual psyches rather than the advancement of the human race. For instance, stealth bombers capable of carrying nuclear payloads have driven us to feel both fear and pride.

Back on the ground, technological advancement has seen its fair share of history as well. It began with radio signals being used to relay messages from the pilots of those planes to others on the ground. The concept quickly evolved, and soon landlines were being placed for the first telephones. These days, such technologies are largely becoming obsolete, as mobile phones have taken the market by storm, changing the way we interact with technology completely. The iPhone, for example, is more of a mobile computer rather than a device for verbal interaction. In addition to compiling messages, various applications can be downloaded that take advantage of the device's cutting technology. Even innumerable music files can be stored on the phone, or listened to through one of those same applications such as headphones.

Even if you're not typically one to do so, it might be worth taking a moment or two out of your day to commemorate the first flight of the Wright brothers--if for no other reason than to stand in awe of how far we've come as a technological society in so little time.

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