In a span of 12 seconds on December 17, 1903, two men near the town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, changed the course of history. This photograph shows the first powered, controlled, sustained flight. Orville Wright at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright running alongside to balance the machine, has just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing. Today, we fly using technological advances that the Wright Brothers only could have imagined. Millions of people board airplanes, confident that pilots will guide them safely to their destinations. But safe navigation begins well before the pilot even touches the plane's controls; it begins with the runway. That's where NOAA comes in.