John T. Daniels

Last updated
Daniels' first photograph (restored) was the first flight of the Wright Flyer in 1903, the first instance of powered flight. Wright First Flight 1903Dec17 (restore 115).tif
Daniels' first photograph (restored) was the first flight of the Wright Flyer in 1903, the first instance of powered flight.
Daniels' photo was adapted for the North Carolina quarter in the 50 State Quarters program 2001 NC Proof.png
Daniels' photo was adapted for the North Carolina quarter in the 50 State Quarters program

John Thomas Daniels, Jr. (July 31, 1873 January 31, 1948) [1] was a member of the U.S. Life-Saving Station in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, who took the photograph of the first powered flight on December 17, 1903. [2] The flight was by the Wright brothers flying their Wright Flyer. Daniels, who had never seen a camera before, later said that he was so excited by seeing the Flyer rising that he nearly forgot Orville Wright's instructions to squeeze the bulb triggering the shutter. The camera that he operated was a Gundlach Korona V view camera, which used 5-by-7-inch glass-plate negatives. The camera was owned by the Wright brothers, who were careful to record the history-making moment, and also to preserve a record for any future patent claims. The plate was not developed until the Wright Brothers returned to Ohio. [3]


The Wrights made four flights that day; three were photographed: the first, third and fourth. After the Flyer was hauled back from the fourth flight, a powerful gust of wind caught it. Daniels grabbed a strut in an attempt to hold down the aircraft, but he was caught between the wings as the Flyer flipped end over end. Daniels was not seriously hurt, but the Flyer was destroyed with even the engine block split in half. Daniels would tell the story of the day he "survived the first airplane crash" for the remainder of his life. [4] Daniels died January 31, 1948, one day after Orville Wright's passing.

Life-Saving Stations were located along U.S. coastlines to provide emergency rescues for crew and passengers of ships foundering offshore. Members of stations were typically known as "surfmen". The service was merged in 1915 into the new U.S. Coast Guard.

Anniversary events

In 2003, Daniels' granddaughter participated in the 100th anniversary First Flight Ceremonies at Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. [5]

On December 17, 2012, the great-grandniece of the Wright Brothers, Kate Jameson (through their niece Leontine Wright, daughter of their brother Lorin, later Jameson) reunited with the great-grandson of photographer John T. Daniels, also named John Daniels. [6]

Related Research Articles

Wright brothers American aviation pioneers, inventors of the airplane

The Wright brothersOrville and Wilbur – were two American aviation pioneers generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft with the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, 4 mi (6 km) south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904–05, the brothers developed their flying machine to make longer-running and more aerodynamic flights with the Wright Flyer II, followed by the first truly practical fixed-wing aircraft, the Wright Flyer III. The Wright brothers were also the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1903:

The Wright Company was the commercial aviation business venture of the Wright Brothers, established by them on November 22, 1909, in conjunction with several prominent industrialists from New York and Detroit with the intention of capitalizing on their invention of the practical airplane. The company maintained its headquarters office in New York City and built its factory in Dayton, Ohio.

Charlie Taylor (mechanic) American mechanic

Charles Edward Taylor was an American inventor, mechanic and machinist. He built the first aircraft engine used by the Wright brothers in the Wright Flyer, and was a vital contributor of mechanical skills in the building and maintaining of early Wright engines and airplanes.

Gustave Whitehead Aviation pioneer

Gustave Albin Whitehead was an aviation pioneer who emigrated from Germany to the United States where he designed and built gliders, flying machines, and engines between 1897 and 1915. Controversy surrounds published accounts and Whitehead's own claims that he flew a powered machine successfully several times in 1901 and 1902, predating the first flights by the Wright Brothers in 1903.

Thomas Selfridge first person to die in a crash of a powered airplane

Thomas Etholen Selfridge was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and the first person to die in an airplane crash. He was also the first Active Duty member of the U.S. military to die in a crash while on duty. He was killed while seated as a passenger in the Wright Flyer, on a demonstration flight piloted by Orville Wright.

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1908:

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1905:

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1901:

<i>Wright Flyer</i> First powered aircraft built by the Wright brothers

The Wright Flyer was the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft. It was designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903, near Kill Devil Hills, about four miles (6.4 km) south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Today, the airplane is exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The U.S. Smithsonian Institution describes the aircraft as "the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard." The flight of Flyer I marks the beginning of the "pioneer era" of aviation.

The Wright Flyer III was the third powered aircraft by the Wright Brothers, built during the winter of 1904-05. Orville Wright made the first flight with it on June 23, 1905. The Flyer III had an airframe of spruce construction with a wing camber of 1-in-20 as used in 1903, rather than the less effective 1-in-25 used in 1904. The new machine was equipped with the engine and other hardware from the scrapped Flyer II and—after major modifications—achieved much greater performance than Flyers I and II.

Wright Brothers National Memorial Located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, commemorates the first successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine.

Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, commemorates the first successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine. From 1900 to 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright came here from Dayton, Ohio, based on information from the U.S. Weather Bureau about the area's steady winds. They also valued the privacy provided by this location, which in the early twentieth century was remote from major population centers.

Wright Model A 1906 aircraft by the Wright brothers

The Wright Model A was an early aircraft produced by the Wright Brothers in the United States beginning in 1906. It was a development of their Flyer III airplane of 1905. The Wrights built about seven Model As in their bicycle shop during the period 1906–1907 in which they did no flying. One of these was shipped to Le Havre in 1907 in order to demonstrate it to the French. The Model A had a 35-horsepower (26 kW) engine and seating for two with a new control arrangement. Otherwise it was identical to the 1905 airplane. The Model A was the first aircraft that they offered for sale, and the first aircraft design to enter serial production anywhere in the world. Apart from the seven machines the Wrights built themselves in 1906–1907, they sold licences for production in Europe with the largest number of Model As actually being produced in Germany by Flugmaschine Wright GmbH, which built about 60 examples.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park National historical park

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio, United States that commemorates three important historical figures—Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright, and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar—and their work in the Miami Valley.

Wright Glider

The Wright brothers designed, built and flew a series of three manned gliders in 1900–1902 as they worked towards achieving powered flight. They also made preliminary tests with a kite in 1899. In 1911 Orville conducted tests with a much more sophisticated glider. Neither the kite nor any of the gliders were preserved, but replicas of all have been built.

Harry Aubrey Toulmin Sr. was the American lawyer located in Springfield, Ohio, who wrote the "flying machine" patent application that resulted in the patent granted to Dayton inventors Wilbur and Orville Wright on May 22, 1906.

History by Contract is a book by early aviation researchers Major William J. O'Dwyer, U.S. Air Force Reserve (ret.) and Stella Randolph about aviation pioneer Gustave Whitehead. The book focuses on an agreement between the Smithsonian Institution and the estate of Orville Wright, which stipulates that the Smithsonian, as a condition of owning and displaying the 1903 Wright Flyer, must recognize and label it as the first heavier-than-air machine to make a manned, powered, controlled and sustained flight.

Eugène Lefebvre French aviation pioneer

Eugène Lefebvre was a French aviation pioneer. He was reportedly the first "stunt pilot", the first person to die while piloting a powered airplane, and the second person to be killed in a powered airplane crash.

Several aviators have been claimed as the first to fly a powered aeroplane. Much controversy has surrounded these claims. It is most widely held today that the Wright Brothers were the first to fly successfully. Brazil regards Alberto Santos-Dumont as the first successful aviator because the Wright Flyer took off from a rail and, after 1903, used a catapult. An editorial in Jane's All the World's Aircraft's 2013 edition supported the claim of Gustave Whitehead.


  1. John T. Daniels 1873-1948 courtesy of
  2. Crouch, Tom D. (February 2002). A dream of wings: Americans and the airplane. W.W. Norton & Co. pp. 300–305. ISBN   0-393-32227-0.
  3. "Capturing History". Vintage Aircraft. EAA. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  4. Crouch, Tom D. (April 2003). The Bishop's Boys . W. W. Norton & Company. pp.  264–267. ISBN   978-0-393-30695-8.
  5. "Wright Flyer made its historic first flight"
  6. "Reunion for Wright brother's descendant."