Aeronautics: On Kill Devil Hill

On a gusty December day in 1903, on the slope of a sand dune on a North Carolina coastal reef, Orville Wright started the tiny engine of a flimsy biplane, crawled aboard the lower wing and lay prone at the crude controls. The machine began to move. Brother Wilbur ran alongside steadying the wing. The ship left the ground, jerkily trod the wind for twelve marvelous seconds, nosed into the sand. A powered airplane had flown.

Last week aging, taciturn Orville Wright, 61, stood beneath a gale-pelted...

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