The Story Behind the Iconic Photograph of the First Flight of an Airplane
Yesterday marked the 109th anniversary of the first aviation photograph ever snapped. Back on December 17th, 1903, an amateur photographer named John Thomas Daniels Jr. captured the now-iconic photograph above showing the Wright brothers’ first flight.
“Amateur photographer” is used quite loosely when discussing Daniels’ role in creating this particular photograph — it was actually the very first photograph Daniels’ had ever taken!
When the Wright brothers traveled to the small town of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina to test their glider, Daniels was one of three men from the Life-Saving Station (think “coast guard”) in that town to help out with the test.
The camera, a Gundlach Korona 5×7-inch glass plate view camera, was actually owned by the Wright brothers. Prior to launching the Flyer, Orville Wright set up his tripod, focused the camera to the correct distance, and prepared the film holder. He then gave Daniels instructions on how to trigger the camera’s shutter by squeezing the shutter release bulb.