Daily Calendar for Tuesday, December 17, 2024

Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first recorded flight in history of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. Orville piloted the biplane, which flew for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. Orville was born in Dayton, Ohio, while his business partner and older brother, Wilbur Wright, was born on a farm near Millville, Indiana. As young men, they opened up a bicycle sales and repair shop in 1892, and started building their own bicycles. With their mechanical ingenuity, they soon moved on to building airplanes. Their first design was a glider that they tested unsuccessfully in 1900, and then tested again with a new design in 1901.

The Wrights chose to test at Kitty Hawk, a small village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, due to its many sand dunes—ideal for providing soft landings. Building on success, they built a wind tunnel, where they tested nearly 200 wing and airframe designs!

In 1902, they flew hundreds of successful flights in their 1902 glider. Their biplane glider featured a steering system, based on a movable rudder, that solved the problem of controlled flight. But they still needed to conquer powered, self-propelled flight. In 1903, they tested an aircraft with a 12-horsepower internal combustion engine. On December 14, 1903, Orville made the first attempt at powered flight, but the engine stalled during take-off and they crashed the plane. On December 17, 1903, Orville got the plane aloft for 12 seconds, flying 120 feet. Wilbur successfully flew the plane that day, too, covering 852 feet in 59 seconds. The modern aviation age was born.

Question of the Day

Can you tell me the origin of the saying “by hook or by crook”?
Reapers’ hooks and shepherds’ crooks are the instruments referred to here. In Old England, forests were the private property of the king, and permission to cut wood was rarely given. Commoners could take deadwood, though, and they increased their bounty by bringing down branches from the trees in any way they could—including by hook or by crook.

Advice of the Day

Eat olives before a journey that may cause motion sickness.

Home Hint of the Day

Pouring vinegar down the drain is an effective means of eliminating odors.

Word of the Day

Wisconsin was probably named from a Chippewa word that means “river of red stone” or “river of the great rock.”

Puzzle of the Day

Why are dudes no longer imported into this country from England?
Because a Yankee dude’ll do (Yankee doodle doo).


  • John Greenleaf Whittier (poet)
  • Arthur Fiedler (conductor)
  • Eugene Levy (actor)
  • Bill Pullman (actor)
  • Milla Jovovich (actress)


  • Dorothy L. Sayers (author)
  • Hank Luisetti (basketball player)
  • Jennifer Jones (actress)
  • Penny Marshall (actress & director)


  • Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized. His birth date is not known for certain.
  • France formally recognized American independence
  • Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker premiered, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • First National Football League championship game was played at Wrigley Field—the Chicago Bears beat the New York Giants 23-21
  • The Canadian “Maple leaf” flag was approved by the Senate
  • A program dedicated to the investigation of UFOs (called Project Blue Book) was terminated. For more than 20 years, the U.S. Air Force had examined 12,618 sightings. Most of these were found to be caused by man-made objects such as balloons, satellites, and aircraft; natural or astronomical phenomena; weather; and hoaxes. At the time of the program’s termination, 701 UFOs remained unexplained.
  • First heart, lung, and liver transplant
  • The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport officially changed its name to Bob Hope Airport
  • A guitar played by George Harrison on the Beatles’ Revolver album and by John Lennon during the recording of the White Album sold to an anonymous bidder for $567,500
  • Bob Fisher made 2,371 basketball free throws in 1 hour, in Centralia, Kansas


  • Snow fell for three weeks in Portland, Oregon, accumulating to 34 inches for a December record
  • A severe ice storm hit central Illinois
  • Australia beat a record with its hottest day ever. The average temperature across the country was 105 degrees F.

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