He had never used a camera before. And when he used it for the first time —he took an extremely important photograph for the entire mankind. Such was the luck of John T. Daniels who took the famous photograph of the First Flight of Wright brothers’ airplane on 17 December 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This was the first and last photograph that John ever shot in his entire life. But just one photograph put him in the history books. Daniels’ photograph is the first record of the moment of realization when mankind grew wings.
More than a 100 years later, now when we see flying airplanes, we hardly think of Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, who pioneered the aviation technology. They were bicycle mechanics and they had the same dream that mankind had been seeing for ages —a dream of flying like birds. Many people made all sorts of attempts to turn this dream into reality. It was left for the Wright brothers to actually succeed and give wings to wingless creatures.
The first flight lasted just 12 seconds, airplane rose only 120 feet above the surface at a ground speed of merely 10.9 kilometers per hour and was witnessed only by five (lucky) people. John T. Daniels was one of them. Orville Wright had entrusted him to take a photograph of the flight using Orville’s Gundlach Korona box camera with a 5-by-7-inch glass-plate negative. But seeing the plane rising above the ground John became so excited that he forgot to follow Orville’s instructions for operating the camera. However, he managed to take an historically important photograph. We all should be thankful to John for taking the photo despite of his lack of expertise. Otherwise we would have become deprived of seeing a great moment in history.
This famous and iconic photograph is called the First Flight and shows the airplane (named Wright Flyer-I) rising above the ground. Orville was piloting the plane and Wilbur is visible near the wingtip.
Interesting incident: The Flyer took four flights on that day of which three were photographed (first, third and fourth). After the fourth flight when the Flyer was being hauled back a strong gust of wind caught it. All the people present of the sight (i.e. Wright brothers and five others) tried to keep it on the ground but failed. The machine toppled over several times and got completely damaged. The wind gust was so powerful that even the engine of the aircraft was split into two. In the incident John was severely injured and later he mentioned himself as “a survivor of the first plane crash in history“!
John T. Daniels died on January 31, 1948, one day after Orville Wright’s passing. Salute to the efforts of Wright brothers and to that of John T. Daniels.
How did you like this photographs and the story behind it? Please comment and give your feedback as it helps me in writing better content for my readers. Thank you for reading and stay connected with my website as I will continue to bring even more iconic photographs to you.