First Flight with the Wright Brothers

Yesterday was National Aviation Day, a holiday established by president Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939 to celebrate developments in aviation. The date selected was the birth date of aviation pioneer Orville Wright, who, along with his older brother Wilbur, is credited with inventing and building the world's first practical fixed-wing aircraft and making the first controlled, powered and sustained flight more than a hundred years ago. The Wright brothers documented much of their early progress in photographs made on glass negatives. Today, the Library of Congress holds many of these historic images, some of which are presented below.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Gennady Teplitskiy / Shutterstock

    2017: The Year in Volcanic Activity

    Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava.

  • David Swindler / 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

    Winners of the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

    Winning images and honorable mentions from the four categories: Wildlife, Landscapes, Aerials, and Underwater.

  • Denis Balibouse / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 12/2–12/10

    California wildfires, the Sankta Lucia Festival of Light in England, a snowy football game in New York, Glasgow's annual Santa Dash, and much more.

  • Susana Vera / Reuters

    Hopeful Images From 2017

    After another year of news stories that produced photos which can often be difficult or disturbing to view, I’ve made it a tradition to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past year.

Join the Discussion