The Wright brothers inaugurated the aerial age with the world's first successful flights of a powered heavier-than-air flying machine. The Wright 1903 Flyer was the product of a sophisticated four-year program of research and development conducted by Wilbur and Orville Wright beginning in 1899. After building and testing three full-sized gliders, the Wrights' first powered airplane flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, making a 12-second flight, traveling 36 m (120 ft), with Orville piloting. The best flight of the day, with Wilbur at the controls, covered 255.6 m (852 ft) in 59 seconds.
Harry P. Moore was a marine reporter for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot who had been following the Wrights' work at Kitty Hawk based on a tip he overheard in a restaurant in September 1903. Moore asked several contacts in the U.S. Coast Guard to keep him apprised of any developments. Less than an hour after the Wrights' first successful flight on December 17, 1903, C. C. Grant, assistant weather observer at Norfolk, dispatched a message to Moore from a Coast Guardsman at Kitty Hawk about the flight. Moore worked with editor Keville Glennan on a draft of the story and began offering it to various news outlets, although only five ordered the story.