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david leigh-smith
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On This Day…December 17th

December 17, 2018 · in News · · 16 · 2.2K

There is a real beauty in this colourised photo of Wilbur (running along the wingtip) and Orville Wright (piloting) during their historic flight on December 17th, 1903.

Below is a copy of the telegram sent by Orvelle (sic) excitedly confirming their iconic flight.

German infantry troops examine a disabled T-34 Russian tank in Verkhne-Kumsky during operation ‘Winter Storm', 17 December 1942. The German 4th Panzer Batallion unsuccessfully tried to break the Red Army encirclement of the surrounded 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad.

Today in 1944 Richard Ira Bong claimed his last aerial victory of his 40 ‘kills' when he shot down a Ki-43 ‘Oscar' in his P- 38 Lightning, ‘Marge'.

The Douglas DC-3 flies for the first time, December 17th, 1935.

December 17th, 1944 was one of the darkest days of a terrible battle. During the Battle of the Bulge, members of the Kampfgruppen Peiper combat unit (1st SS Panzer Division) systematically and deliberately executed 84 US prisoners of war near the Belgian town of Malmedy. It was an event that led to US reprisals and took the fighting to even deeper levels of bitterness that extended beyond the war into the War Crimes trials in Dachau, 1946.

Bringing us back to Wilbur and Orville, this is a commemorative flypast over the ‘Wright Memorial (pictured in a previous ‘') by F4U-4 Corsair fighters of US Marine Corps squadron VMF-212 - Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, United States. Photo taken 17th December, 1948.

Reader reactions:
8  Awesome

16 responses

  1. It was a banner day, all right!

    Well done, Dave. LoL!

  2. Thanks, Jeff. You are a rock. I mean that in a nice way.

  3. Major Bong P-38 shot had me browsing the web to see just how did he managed to have a large size photo of his wife adorning the plane...turns out he had the favours of the photo lab chaps of the 5th AF, that kept replacing them whenever it flew off the fuselage. According to sources, that happen each month

  4. waifs and strays- harsh reality when you have orphans of war referred to like wayward pets! Different time...

  5. David:

    If you run out of "things on this day" here's a good site to go to:

    Here's a few other items from today, for instance...

    1777: France recognizes the independence of the United States.

    1927: American submarine (S-4: (SS-106) sinks off Block Island after collision with loss of all 34 crew. Commander Edward Ellsberg, in charge of her salvage, writes the undersea classic "On The Bottom" about the event.

    1939: German pocket battleship "Graf Spee" is scuttled off Montevideo, Uruguay.

    1941: Japanese troops land in British North Borneo.

    1957: US finally successfully test fires Atlas ICBM after many failures.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. En 1903 fotos en color? Desde luego la foto está preciosa.Es una fecha memorable para la aviación.
    Cuadro realizado al óleo en 2003. Copia de una ilustración de Time-Life "La conquista del aire"

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  7. A few years ago we did a tour stop in Superior, just up the road from Poplar, which was Bong's hometown. I had some free time so I took a roadtrip to Poplar to take a couple then and nows of photos that were hanging in the terminal at the airport. His grave is right across the street from the town...which is only around 5 small buildings. On his war bond tour he stopped there in a P-38 to visit his family. The Poplar Hardware store was the setting of him talking to the local kids about being a fighter pilot. Just a short year or so later he was buried not far away from the hardware store in the cemetery across the street.

    His family came to visit us at the airport and brought his sister from the nursing home. She was in good spirits and talked about her brother fondly. She could have been his twin. On their request I did a 'fly by' of the Bong family home in Poplar in Betty of the fondest memories I have while on the tour.

    8 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  8. Thanks for the post and especially the great photos, Jim. It’s awful that having survived the worst the war could throw at him that he was lost in such circumstances just days before the conflict ended.

    Appreciate you sharing your memories.

  9. David, you have again made my day... with another wonderful on this day episode. Thank you !

    Wow Jim... You are very fortunate to have been able to touch peoples lives in such a positive manner. Good for you my friend. Those pictures you posted from Poplar are amazing when you compare how they really have not changed too much over the years.

  10. Thanks guys, it's your posts David that make me think of these moments. I really enjoy your posts...the history is always fascinating. One more for the's amazing how different Kitty hawk is nowadays. It had to be really remote back in 1903...I was there in November and even the hotel never got warm. Those guys were fighting the elements as much as trying to fly. Keep 'em coming Dave!


    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  11. Kudos and a fantastic spread this time, David!

  12. These are great, happy I stumbled upon this website!

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