Flying Time

"A strong cold wind blew from the north. Puddles of water throughout the camp [from recent rains] were covered with ice. By 10 o'clock, the wind [at 27 miles an hour] was as brisk as ever, [but] we decided we had better get the machine out and attempt a flight." It was the morning of Dec. 17, 1903, and the circumstances, as described here by Orville Wright, didn't seem auspicious enough to start anything, let alone change the course of history. But on that cold, windy day 100 years ago on a sandy hill at Kitty Hawk, N.C., the Wright brothers fulfilled a millennia-old dream of mankind, flying 120 feet in 12 seconds in the first successful controlled powered flight. The event launched the age of aviation, and with it, the era of the wristwatch. In this centennial year of that flight, it's worth noting how essential timekeeping has been to aviation from the first moments of thos

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