Narrated by Joel Godard (announcer from "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"), the fourth... more »
Narrated by Joel Godard (announcer from "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"), the fourth installment of "Little Known Moments in American History" tells the story of the Wright Brothers' secret test subjects used for the first airplane. www.turtlewithlemonade.com « less
NARRATOR In the summer of 1903 Wilbur and Orville Wright were putting the final touches on one of mankind’s greatest inventions, the airplane. But before taking the risk of flying the aircraft themselves, the brothers decided to use animal test subjects just as they had years earlier when they invented the bicycle. First, they used dogs, but encountered problems due to the canine tendency to chase automobiles with the airplane. Next, they turned to another domesticated creature, the kitten, but due to the dramatic weight difference between man and kitten, they compensated with volume and placed over two-dozen kittens in the cockpit. The result was disastrous. (BEAT) Having exhausted their efforts with strays and stolen pets, the Wright brothers decided to use more exotic animals, and raided the local zoo. As their neighbors became increasingly suspicious of their activities, Wilbur and Orville tried a variety of different animals, all of which resulted in failure. (MORE) NARRATOR (CONT’D) The monkey, a seemingly obvious choice, was in fact too intelligent to be a test pilot and instead would take apart the airplane and reassemble it into other things. (BEAT) In fact, the brothers did not find a successful test subject until they turned to the lovable sea-lion. Due to the creature’s playful nature, the sea-lion proved to be more than willing to spend hours flying around in the aircraft and even performed a variety of tricks. Finally confident in the safety of their machine, the Wright Brothers began to fly it themselves and premiered it to the public on December 17, 1903. The airplane would go on to change the world. In later years, as Wilbur spent his days in legal battles over his invention, Orville, repentant over the animal lives that had been lost, 647 in total, would spend his final years drafting formal letters of apology to the surviving relatives of his test subjects and befriending any furry creature that crossed his path.