Today is December 17, 2010, 107 years after Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first flight at the beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Needless to say, a lot has happened since then. Just 65 years after that first flight, which saw Orville at the controls of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the maiden sortie could have been accomplished in the span of the wings of the Boeing 747-100.
The Wright Flyer, or at least the nearest replica to the aircraft, is enshrined at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum here in Washington, DC. The aircraft, in fact, did not arrive at the museum until December 1948, at the conclusion of a decades-long feud between the Wrights and the Smithsonian surrounding the brothers' claim of being the true inventors of the airplane.
Aviation is an afterthought for most in the industrialized world, we transit seamlessly from one distant point to another thinking only of the destination or origin. The duration of our journeys are slashed by days, weeks, months, perhaps even years from their original attempt. Today, we are nagged by airport security, bad food, tight economy seats and what we perceive to be long waits. I'll allow comedian Louis CK to put it all in context.
Happy Birthday, Aviation, you don't look a day over 100.