The day dawned clear and cool, with a slight breeze that promised little crosswind. Wilbur dressed quickly in his next-to-best coat and pants, brushing them down to remove the wrinkles. He peered into the chipped mirror above the wash basin, checking to see his tie was straight. Dapper and dashing was the order of the day; today the media was invited to the testing grounds.
Today, would be the day that they would demonstrate to the world that their invention was sustainable and prove the naysayers wrong. Today, they would either soar to the heights, or their dreams would crash down around them and burn.
Today, was the second test flight at Kitty Hawk, December 17, 1903.
It was a long way from the bicycle shop where he used to sit and sketch his designs, first by adapting a pedal powered mechanical contraption to the wings he had designed.
But the motorized version was much better, for it allowed for a sustainable amount of energy to be applied, limited only by the amount of fuel that could be held in the reservoir. The glider tests of the previous couple of years proved that it was possible. Possible, but not yet proven.
Yet, Charlie Taylor, an apprentice in their bike shop assured Wilbur that the engine would work. He had built it in their shop after hours, out of light weight aluminum, light weight enough to not add excessive weight the airplane‘s design.
Never the less, the opportunity to fly the plane first had been won by him with a toss of a coin, and on November 15, 1903 his first test flight was marred by fierce winds, causing him over steer the plane, and he had crashed one hundred feet from where he had taken off. Despite being the first to test the new engine, two days of repairs and now brought him to this point, where his brother, Orville, would get a turn at the controls.
He strode down the way and off into the field where his brother Orville had spent the night in a tent on the field, refusing to leave the plane unattended.
As he stepped up to the tent, a reporter walked out from around the plane, a camera and a sketch pad in hand, sketching an inked drawing of the plane.
The light winds of dawn grew with the lifting of night, until now they were gusting along the field, kicking up eddies of leaves and dirt and swirling them about.
“If this keeps up, few spectators will come to watch. I will take some pictures for the paper from the sidelines” he said, and bent against the wind, picked a sheltered spot by a tree.
Wilbur blew on his hands as Orville exited the tent, wind goggles slung over his arm.
“Feeling confident?” he said to Orville as the latter straightened and began walking over to the plane.”
“Yes, she will fly” he said. “If not, it will be back to the drawing board.” He chuckled, remembering the cartoon the reporter had inked the previous day. “Let’s fire up the engine.”
English Idiom: ” “Back to the drawing board” also “Back to square one”…(meaning) back to the beginning because the current attempt was unsuccessful…the first term originated during World War II, most likely from the caption of a carton by Peter Arno in The New Yorker magazine. It pictured a man who held a set of blueprints and was watching an airplane explode.”
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