1903 -- The First Heavier-than-Air Flight Air power as we know it today developed from the epic, controlled-power flight of Wilbur and Orville Wright, which occurred at Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17, 1903. The first flight over the sand dunes by Orville lasted 12 seconds and covered a distance of 120 feet. In the fourth and last flight of the day, in raw and windy weather, Wilbur flew 852 feet in 59 seconds. The Wright brothers always believed that the airplane would be a great contribution to international communications, commerce and good will. They delivered their first airplane to the U.S. War Department in 1909. For additional information see the National Museum of the USAF.