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Iconic Wright brothers photo was photographer's first

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wright bros. wikimedia
wright bros. wikimedia

More than a century ago, a man named John T. Daniels photographed the most iconic moment in aviation history, when he captured the Wright brothers' first flight in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. History remembers Daniels as an "amateur photographer," but as PetaPixel explains, that's something of an understatement. Because although his black-and-white image is now widely recognized as the world's first photograph of manned flight, what's lesser known is the fact that it was also the first photo Daniels had ever taken.

In fact, Daniels had never even seen a camera before December 17th, 1903, when he accompanied Orville and Wilbur Wright on their trip to Kill Devil Hills. Prior to launching their Flyer aircraft, Orville perched his Gundlach Korona five-by-seven-inch glass plate view camera on a tripod, focused it accordingly, and prepared the film holder. He then instructed Daniels to squeeze the camera's shutter release bulb once the craft was airborne, and hopped inside the Flyer.

A few minutes later, Orville and his plane were off the ground, leaving Daniels in an understandable state of shock. He was so excited, in fact, that he almost forgot to squeeze the bulb. Fortunately, however, he did trigger the shutter as instructed, capturing Orville's ascent at precisely the right moment, and forever immortalizing one of history's most groundbreaking technological achievements.