Lesson 2.3: Social Studies Connection

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The Sky's the Limit

In 1899, Charles Duell, the head of the U.S. Patent Office, reportedly said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Duell obviously wasn't aware of what was flying around in the minds of Orville and Wilbur Wright. The brothers — bicycle makers from Dayton, Ohio — dreamed of building the world's first flying machine.

First in Flight

Just four years later, the Wright brothers succeeded in changing the world forever. On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright made the first successful airplane flight on a windy beach at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Called the Wright Flyer, the plane the brothers built flew 120 feet. That is less than half the length of a football field. Although the flight lasted only 12 seconds, it steered the course of history in a new direction. The brothers launched the age of aviation.

A Century of Invention

Today, visitors can get a close-up look at the Wright Flyer. It was put on exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibit celebrated the centennial, or 100th anniversary, of the Wright brothers' famous flight.

Across the country, people commemorated the 100th anniversary. Festivals, flight shows, museum exhibits, and reenactments of the Wrights' original flight were held. School children in the Wright brothers' hometown of Dayton, Ohio, celebrated the anniversary by helping to build a replica of the first plane.

First Time Travels

Here are some flight highlights from the past one hundred years.
1903: The Wright brothers successfully fly the world's first powered airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
1927: Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Spirit of St. Louis.
1932: Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1937, she vanishes over the Pacific Ocean in her attempt to fly around the world.
1947: Chuck Yeager pilots Glamorous Glennis, the first plane to fly faster than the speed of sound.
1969: With “one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind,” Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to walk on the moon.
1976: The Concorde, the world's only supersonic passenger jet, begins service. The Concordes, which flew faster than the speed of sound, were grounded in 2003 because they were too expensive to run.
2000: Humans get a place in space aboard the International Space Station.

Word Wise

To start something. Last year, my class launched a school newspaper.

The science of developing and flying aircraft: Ben, an aviation expert, builds model planes.

Honor and remember the life of a person or an event: The parade commemorates the people who have served our country.

A copy, or reproduction: The painting over our sofa is a replica of the work of a famous artist.

Alone: I often make solo bike trips to my friend's house across town.

Disappear without a trace: With a swipe of the magician's wand, the rabbit vanished.

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Many words in the English language come from words in an older language, Latin. Aviaton comes from the Latin word avis, which means “bird”. The word commemorate comes from the Latin word memorare, which means “to remember”.

What other words come from Latin words? Look up each of the words below and write their definitions. Write down the Latin word that each word comes from.

  • aviary
  • terrarium
  • terrace
  • memorandum

Data Hunt

You have read that the Concorde, the world's fastest passenger plane, was grounded in 2003. The chart below compares the Concorde with another fast passenger plane, the Boeing 747.

Name of Plane Cruising Speed (approximate) Flying Time
(New York to London)
mi/hr km/h
Concorde 1,320 2,125 2 h 50 min
Boeing 747 560 900 7 h 15 min
  1. How much faster was the Concorde's cruising speed than the Boeing 747's:

    • in miles per hour?
    • in kilometers per hour?
  2. How much less time did it take the Concorde than the Boeing 747 to make the New York-to-London flight?