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Today’s Moon Phase
83% of Full • 19 days old
Monthly History Highlights
December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
At dawn on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in an attempt to cripple the fleet and hinder U.S. intervention in other Japanese targets in the South Pacific. The Japanese military expected that Germany would defeat Great Britain and the Soviet Union and that Japan would control the Pacific. The attack was opposed by Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who cautioned against a war with the United States, but he was overruled. After the attack, he said, “We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve.” He was right. Although airfields, port facilities, and warships were severely damaged and two battleships, the Utah and the Arizona, were destroyed, the attack mobilized the United States and signaled its entry into World War II. Today, the Arizona is a memorial and a national park.
December 17, 1903 – The Wright Brothers' Flight
Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make 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. As young men, the brothers opened up a bicycle sales and repair shop in 1892, and started building their own bicycles. With their mechanical ingenuity, they soon moved on 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 choose to test at Kitty Hawk, a small village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks which had sand dunes for soft landings. Building on success, they built a wind tunnel where they tested nearly 200 wings 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. However, 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.