The 1900's
When Man Took Flight

When Man Took Flight
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.44

     challenging words:    wingtip, horsepower, historic, propellers, reality, military, article, flights, writing, series, meantime, reporter, refused, design, hoax, public
     content words:    New York Times, Wilbur Wright, North Carolina, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hill, Wright Glider, New York, Wright Flyer, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Glenn Curtiss

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When Man Took Flight
By Jane Runyon

1     In 1903, a reporter for The New York Times wrote an article. He had heard stories about some inventors. These inventors wanted to invent a machine that could fly. After researching his article, the reporter came up with one conclusion. He decided that man would be able to make a plane that was lighter than air in one to ten million years. Nothing he had seen could convince him that man would ever fly like the birds. Little did that reporter know that even while he was writing his article, the idea of flight was coming closer to becoming a reality.
2     Wilbur Wright and his brother had been experimenting since 1899 with flying machines. Their first plane was a glider. It was powered by the wind. This first glider cost only $15 to construct. It measured sixteen feet from wingtip to wingtip. The Wright brothers owned a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. They used their knowledge of machines to build a glider that could be steered in the wind. A means of steering would enable the flyers to control where they went. They ran a wire from the tip of each wing. This wire led to steering sticks at the center of the glider. Moving these sticks let the pilot turn left or right.
3     The success they found in constructing a glider led the two men to another level. They decided that they could attach a small engine to their glider and stay in the air for longer periods of time. In 1900, they moved their experiment to North Carolina. They had a friend who studied weather. He convinced the brothers that the wind at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, would be perfect for their tests. A sand dune named Kill Devil Hill would also keep them hidden from the curious eyes of the public. For two years, Wilbur and Orville tested their gliders. With each test they learned more. They revised the construction of their glider and built new ones when necessary. Their last glider was called the Wright Glider of 1902. It made over one thousand flights.

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