Hawk, Part I
Next week I'm going to be in Kitty
Hawk, North Carolina (Hurricane Isabel permitting),
visiting the Wright Brothers memorial there. This
year is the 100th anniversary of the historic first
flight, but before I file a report from the scene,
I thought we'd review a few of the big events of 1903.
a month ago I wrote of Henry Ford and the founding
of the Ford Motor Company that year, but there were
some other major items.
March 21, organized labor scored a huge victory with
a report from the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission,
a body appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to
investigate conditions in the mining industry. The
commission established that "no person shall be refused
employment, or in any way discriminated against, on
account of membership in any labor organization."
4, the first Pacific communications cable was opened.
President Roosevelt sent a message around the world
and back to him in 12 minutes.
26, the first transcontinental automobile trip ended
when a 20- hp Winton driven by H. Nelson Jackson and
Sewell K. Crocker arrived in New York City. There
were some who charged Jackson with fraud, saying there
was no way his car made it on its own the entire way,
but no evidence of wrongdoing was ever found. Jackson
and Crocker had started out from San Francisco on
on August 21, a 12-hp Packard model F driven by Tommy
Fetch and M.C. Karrup arrived in New York. It had
left San Francisco on June 20.
in 1903, Russian neuro-physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)
invented the term "conditioned reflex" to describe
the subject of his recent research. Pavlov rang a
bell each time he gave food to a dog. After 20 to
40 repetitions, the dog began to salivate when it
heard the bell, even if no food was present. Pavlov
won a Nobel Prize for his work in 1904. Homer Simpson
would later prove, again, that Pavlov's theories were
one that probably doesn't belong here.December 30,
a fire broke out at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago
during a performance by Eddie Foy. 588 died. This
led to all manner of new building codes in the country,
such as more fire walls, better and more exits, unobstructed
also had the important issue of the Panama Canal in
1903. On January 22, the Hay-Herran Treaty was signed
with Colombia. This granted a 99-year lease and U.S.
sovereignty over a canal zone in Panama. The U.S.
Senate ratified it on March 17, but on August 12 the
Colombian Senate rejected it.
3, a revolt was launched in Panama against Colombian
rule after President Roosevelt ordered U.S. naval
forces into the area. The rebellion was engineered
by the Panama Canal Company and other local groups
with the approval of the Roosevelt administration.
days later, Nov. 6, the U.S. recognized the Republic
of Panama. Then on Nov. 18, the Hay-Bunau-Varilla
Treaty was negotiated. This gave the United States
full control of a ten-mile-wide canal zone in Panama
in return for $10 million in gold plus a yearly payout
for the Wright Brothers, Orville (1871-1948) and Wilbur
(1867-1912), they had a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio
and in the 1890s they commenced work there on an airplane.
Neighbors said, "They're back in that bicycle shop
again. I don't know what they think they're going
to do. They will never make a machine that can fly,"
recalled Mabel Griep, a neighbor. Ms. Griep's father
was a big supporter of the Wright brothers, and he
used to tell Mabel, "You just let those boys go, those
boys know what they're doing." ["The American Century"]
For their part, Orville and Wilbur let everyone come
into the shop to see what they were doing and the
ridicule never seemed to bother them.
Wright Brothers had designed and flown 3 gliders between
1900-1902 before they took their powered plane to
Kitty Hawk. I'll cover December 1903 next time, but
a few days before the historic flight on the 17th,
a gentleman by the name of Samuel P. Langley tested
his own heavier-than-air flying machine, launching
it from a houseboat in the Potomac River on December
8. On takeoff its wing hit a stanchion and the machine
crashed. Langley was subjected to much ridicule.
in 1914, two years after Wilbur's death, Orville Wright
locked horns with the Smithsonian Institution. It
seems that Langley had been the leader of the Smithsonian
and his replacement authorized the rebuilding of Langley's
'Aerodrome' with all manner of modifications. After
testing it out, the Smithsonian claimed that had the
Aerodrome been launched properly in 1903, it would
have flown, nine days before the Wrights' plane, the
noted by Fred Howard ("Oxford Companion."), "The Aerodrome
was later displayed in the Smithsonian's National
Museum, as the first airplane 'capable of sustained
free flight.' Orville retaliated by exiling the Kitty
Hawk to England for display in London's Science Museum.
The feud was settled in 1942, but not until December
1948 - eleven months after Orville's death - was the
Kitty Hawk installed as the National Museum's prized
centerpiece." [I didn't know that!]
the way, Teddy Roosevelt was the first president (former,
at the time) to go up in a plane, October 11, 1910,
in St. Louis. It was piloted by Arch Hoxsey and attained
an altitude of 50 feet in a four-minute flight. Within
the year, Hoxsey died in a crash. Roosevelt had also
been the first president to go down in a submarine
back in 1905.
Century," Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster
"The Oxford Companion to United States History," edited
by Paul S. Boyer
"The American Century," Harold Evans
"The Encyclopedia of American Facts and Dates," edited
by Gorton Carruth
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