Today In History Spotlights Dec. 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright’s First Successful Airplane Flight

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Today’s History Spotlight

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Wilbur and Orville Wright conduct the first successful airplane flight. At Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the Wright brothers performed four controlled flights with their Wright Flier. The fourth and final flight consisted of Wilbur remaining in the air for 59 seconds.

In 1908, the Wright brothers conducted their first public flight in Le Mans, France, and in 1910, Theodore Roosevelt was given a flight in their aircraft. The Wright Flier was showcased in various museums across the US and Britain before being permanently stationed at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

What Happened On This Day – December 17

  • 2010 Mohamed Bouazizi sets himself on fire. The Tunisian street vendor self-immolated as a protest against the economic conditions in Tunisia. He died 18 days after at the age of 26. His protest and death were a catalyst for the Tunisian revolution and similar revolutions and protests around the Arab world.
  • 2010 The beginning of the Arab Spring. The multi-country protests and demands for change in the Arab world are thought to have begun with street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunisia. Bouazizi’s attempt and death 18 days later was the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution which forced then-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down from his post.
  • 1989 First episode of The Simpsons aired. The popular American animated series directed by Matt Groening is set in the fictional town of Springfield and it follows the life of the Simpson family.
  • 1790 Discovery of the Aztec calendar stone. Also known as the Stone of the Five Eras, the sculpture was excavated in Mexico City.

Births On This Day – December 17

  • 1978 Manny Pacquiao – Filipino boxer, politician
  • 1973 Paula Radcliffe – English runner
  • 1936 Pope Francis – Current Pope of the Catholic Church.
  • 1778 Humphry Davy – English chemist, physicist
  • 1770 Ludwig van Beethoven – German pianist, composer

Deaths On This Day – December 17

  • 2011 Kim Jong-il – North Korean politician, 2nd Supreme Leader of North Korea
  • 2010 Captain Beefheart – American singer-songwriter
  • 1933 13th Dalai Lama
  • 1830 Simón Bolívar – Venezuelan commander
  • 1273 Rumi – Persian mystic, poet

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Garrett Smith
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