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Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 11: Safe For Democracy
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8

See it Now - click the image and explore
People watching Wright Brothers Flight
Segment 1
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In 1903, Kitty Hawk was mostly empty beach See It Now - Kitty Hawk Beach, with a few fishermen, a lifeboat station where men stood by to aid shipwrecks, and legions of crabs and mosquitoes. On that windy December day, Orville won the toss of a coin. He got to fly first, lying on his stomach on the wing. Wilbur ran beside him; the plane lifted a few feet above the sand and stayed in the air for seventeen seconds. John Daniels of the Kill Devil lifesaving-station snapped a picture of Orville and the flyer as they left the ground See It Now - The Wright Brothers' First Flight. Orville sent a telegram home to his father: Hear It Now - Wilbur Wright "success—four flights thursday morning all against 21-mile wind—started from level with engine power alone—average speed through air 31 miles—longest 57 seconds—inform press—home Christmas See It Now - Orville Wright's Telegram Check The Source - The Wright Brother's Breakthrough."

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk ran a front-page story, but hardly any other newspaper even noticed. Why were these two men willing to risk their lives? What did they want? They wanted to do something no one had ever done before. They wanted to experience the freedom of striving after a great goal. And this is part of what America is all about. We are a country based on freedom for all. We have not always lived up to that promise, but we have kept on trying.

Five years after the Wright Brothers' first flight in Kitty Hawk the world was finally ready to pay attention Check The Source - The Wright Brothers Keep on Testing. Orville lifted his plane into the air and swung around an army field in Virginia one and a half times before he landed See It Now - People Watching Wright Brothers' Flight. The crowd of watchers rushed forward "screaming as loudly as they could," one paper wrote, "overwhelmed by the miracle that had taken place before their eyes." Now everybody believed it—people could fly ! Anything might be possible after this, they thought—perhaps even an end to war. Orville Wright himself believed this. He said, Hear It Now - Orville Wright "When my brother and I built and flew the first man-carrying flying machine, we thought that we were introducing into the world an invention that would make further wars practically impossible. Governments would realize the impossibility of winning by surprise attacks, and no country would enter into war with another when it knew it would have to simply wear out the enemy."

The Wrights were, well, wrong. In 1914, just six years after that flight around the Virginia airfield, an archduke was assassinated in Bosnia Check The Source - Eyewitness to an Assassination : The Conspirator Check The Source - Eyewitness to an Assassination : The Bodyguard, which started a war that changed the whole world and affected American life for the rest of the century. It was called the Great War. (Later it became the First World War.) An English politician and writer, Lord Grey, realized how bad it was going to be. He said, Hear It Now - Lord Grey "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

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Did You Know?
The Wright brothers bicycle shop was called the Wright Cycle Company. Later on in their work, the brothers figured out how to use bicycle chains and sprockets to link their airplane's motor and propellers.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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