The Wright Brothers’ First Successful Flight at Kitty Hawk

Gibraltar - Scott #932 (2003)
Gibraltar – Scott #932 (2003)

The earliest years of aviation is an immensely popular subject in philately — not only as a thematic topic on stamps but also the associated postal history of those fledgling flights. As a child, I was initially more interested in ocean liners than airplanes but became fascinated with Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean around the time that the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp marking the 50th anniversary of that event; that particular stamp graced the initial first day cover I received after my mother enrolled me in the Postal Commemorative Society as a gift for my 11th birthday. I also remember pasting a copy of the stamp into my paperback copy of Lindbergh’s The Spirit of St. Louis.

It wasn’t until far into my adult life that I paid much attention to the Wright Brothers and their early attempts at man-powered flight on the North Carolina shore. A year or two ago, I found a copy of David McCullough’s excellent book on the subject and that generated my interest in obtaining stamps portraying the brothers and their Flyers. They aren’t hard to find; I believe there are more Wright Brothers stamps than Lindbergh ones. I’ve previously used three of them here on the ASAD blog in articles about National Aviation Day in the United States, last year’s anniversary of the first flight at Kitty Hawk and in my country profile of the Republic of the Congo . I also plan to include more on next year’s birthdays of each of the brothers. So, I am not going to write much today beyond giving the details of the beautiful stamp pictured above.

Gibraltar released a set of six stamps on March 31, 2003, to mark the centennial of powered flight (Scott #932-937) with the Wright Flyer appearing on the lowest denomination, 30 pence, in a Smithsonian Institute-copyrighted photo. The other stamps in this set picture Charles Lindbergh and The Spirit of St Louis in the first transatlantic flight on May 21, 1927 (40 pence); the Beoing 314 Clipper with the first transatlantic mail service on May 20, 1939 (40 pence); the Saunders Roe SARO-21 Windhover Amphibian on the first scheduled service from Gibraltar to Tangiers in September 1931 (42 pence); the British Airways Concorde, the first supersonic passenger airplane from January 1976 (44 pence); and NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia, the first space shuttle to fly into Earth orbit in April 1981 (66 pence). The stamps were designed by Anselmo Torres and printed by Cartor Sec Printers of France using 4-color offset lithography.

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