33 Thrilling Images From The Wild Early Days Of Flight

Published February 27, 2017
Updated January 16, 2018
First Flight Wright
Whitehead On Ground
Albatros Flying Machines
Otto Glider Flying Machines
33 Thrilling Images From The Wild Early Days Of Flight
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After the Wright brothers made the first sustained and controlled flight of a heavier-than-air craft near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903, humanity's race to the skies hardly ended. Quite the contrary, it heated up more than ever.

In the wake of the brothers' breakthrough — not unlike the years before as well — dozens of daredevil pilots, engineers, and manufacturers tried out hundreds of methods to put humans in the air. There were gliders, wingsuits, balloons, airships, flying darts, and even stranger contraptions whose names can hardly explain their functions.

Many of these attempts went nowhere — rough drafts left on the scrapheap of history. But plenty of them contributed to the methods of flight we take for granted today.

So while we may now have little fascination left with flight, the photos above will take you back to a freewheeling time when "pilots" and "airplanes" were "aviators" and "flying machines," when flight was still shiny and new, when simply taking off and landing was anything but a sure thing.

Fascinated by this look at vintage flying machines? Next, see which legendary innovators join the Wright brothers among famous inventors who don't actually deserve credit for their most famous breakthrough. Then, take flight beyond our atmosphere and have a look at some vintage NASA photos from the glory days of space travel.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society of history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.