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Public Papers - 1991

Proclamation 6391 -- Wright Brothers Day, 1991


By the President of the United States

of America

A Proclamation

They were quiet men of modest means, but in an extraordinary display of talent, imagination, and teamwork, Orville and Wilbur Wright changed the world. Less than a century ago, on December 17, 1903, these enterprising brothers launched the age of aviation with the first controlled, manned flight in a heavier-than-air, mechanically propelled airplane. Although their handcrafted ``Flyer'' covered just 120 feet on its maiden voyage over the windswept beach near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright brothers helped lead mankind on a great journey of discovery and progress that continues to this day.

Given the routine nature of air travel today -- as well as the increasing frequency of shuttle missions and other forms of spaceflight -- it can be difficult for us to fathom just how remarkable the work of the Wright brothers was. When they began to experiment with airplane models and wind tunnels at their small workshop in Dayton, Ohio, many people believed that human flight would never be possible. At that time, even the automobile had not yet appeared on the American scene. Defying the skeptics, Orville and Wilbur Wright persevered through months of careful study, calculation, and design.

Indeed, long before they began constructing their first flying machine, the Wrights immersed themselves in the study of existing texts and papers on fundamental aerodynamics. They also conducted exhaustive research, moving far beyond previously accepted data and theories, many of which had proved to be unreliable. The Wrights' achievement of three-axis control in flight, inspired by watching birds of the air, laid the foundation for their success at Kitty Hawk and for the future development of all aviation.

More than a tribute to their mechanical acumen and collective genius, the Wright brothers' triumph at Kitty Hawk stands as a shining example of the power of intellect and determination over seemingly insurmountable odds. It is an example we do well to remember. Today many frontiers still stand before us. Every problem and question we face, both as individuals and as a Nation, represents new challenges and opportunities. Like Orville and Wilbur Wright and like all those Americans who have used their freedom, resources and skill to reach high goals, we, too, can rise on the wings of industry and learning.

The Congress, by a joint resolution approved December 17, 1963 (77 Stat. 402; 36 U.S.C. 169), has designated the 17th day of December of each year as ``Wright Brothers Day'' and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation commemorating this day.

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 17, 1991, as Wright Brothers Day. I invite all Americans to observe that day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of December, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.

George Bush

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:10 a.m. December 13, 1991]

Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on December 16.

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