Before you can walk you have to crawl, before you can space you have to plane.
Kerbals have long dreamed of travelling in space, gazing up at the stars and their two moons, but between them and space was the atmosphere and that had to be conquered first.
So it was that two brothers embarked on a project that would one day put their kind closer to their ultimate goal. They believed that it was possible to build a machine that, with enough speed, could raise a kerbal off the ground in a controlled manner and bring him back in (more or less) one piece.
Their first attempts where crude at best as they had not yet understood the concept of lift.
As AV1, which was more of a rocket car on skids, shot down the runway terrified bystanders rushed for cover. Jebediah, with grim determination fought to keep it going straight and tried to pull up. As the craft neared the end of the runway and still showed no signs of leaving the ground everyone feared the worse. At the last second the nose lifted up and Jebediah sailed into the air.
However, it was a short lived flight as a failure in the second engine resulted in a hasty abort. Two parachutes where deployed which ripped the engine clear of the cockpit which was safely deposited in the ocean.
While this flight was short, a great many things were learnt. As well as scaring all Kerbals within 2.1km, the roar of AV1's explosive engines also frightened the elusive birds around KSC into taking flight. The Kerbals had heard the birds before, but this was the first time they'd ever seen them fly.
“If birds can glide for long periods of time, then… why can’t I ?” said Jeb and shortly later the first ever wing was created.
The flight of AV1 had gained some interest from the scientific community and they agreed to provide some funding if the next flight would also carry a couple of experiments into the air. So AV1 was modified and this time left the ground with ease and soared into the air. Some experiments where done mid flight and other results where gained when she later splashed down several km from the shore line.
The Wrong Brothers where still not satisfied as they had not yet managed sustained flight and so far only the cockpits had survived. After many variations, some more viable than others, they finally arrived at a craft that will forever be remembered as the first craft to cross the water and land on the nearby island.
The SSthiswontlandwell surprised those who'd named it by landing (mostly intact) at the island runway.
Their next triumph was a smaller craft that was both the first craft to not use exploding engines for its initial thrust and was also the first craft to land intact and be able to take off again. The Herring could land on her front skids and (so long as the landing was level and gentle) would skate along the ground before coming to rest and flopping onto the runway like an exhausted fish. The sequence shows the Herring's iconic landing style;
With this aircraft it was finally possible to make trips to the nearby areas, perform experiments and (sometimes) return.
Several larger variants where made that slightly increased the range of the Herring but there was a limit to how big she could be and still land safely. Here is Jeb standing proudly next to one of the larger versions;
More funding became available as people realised that these lunatic brothers might actually be onto something and the first Jet engine was conceived. It had the advantage of a much lighter fuel and greater range and for the first time the kerbals where able to fly over the mountains and across to other continents.
Landing was however still quite an issue and touching down was only possible on the smoothest terrain, like in the deserts. Often the pilot and experiments had to eject in order to land in new terrain.
It was believed that the terrain at the North Pole would be smooth enough for a safe landing. So it was that an expedition to fly to the north pole begun. Still believing that moar was better the Wrong Brothers built the high-five; a 5 engined triplane which became the first craft to fly above 20km and also set the record for longest flight.
The expedition was scheduled to land at 2 sites, the tundra surrounding the pole and then to proceed on to the north pole itself.
He barely made it. Perhaps it was the beauty of this seldom seen land which distracted Jeb, or perhaps it was the weight of the craft, but as he came into land a wing clipped the ground.
The high-five tumbled and flipped over. By shear luck (or as Jeb would argue, good piloting) the rear of the craft took the heaviest impact and he survived (the experiments however did not). As the smoke cleared Jeb was left with some indistinguishable rubble, a load of wings and the most stunning view of the moon he'd ever seen from the ground.
Every detail of it was clearly visible and Jeb took this as a sign to not give up.
While none of the experiments made it, he did return a couple of interesting soil samples which was enough for the scientific community to fund the development of a jet that could carry materials for analysis.
One of its missions was to study the mountains and so it was designed to separate into a small lander section which could parachute into the awkward terrain. It took several attempts but did eventually yield some discoveries. One discovery was during a failed landing; Jeb found himself tumbling over and over in his cockpit as he and bits of experiments made a hasty hillside descent. As he rolled along he realised that something that could roll would be a far more effective landing solution. The first ever wheel had been invented!
Now the scope of destinations had really opened up and SciJet2 (funding for names had dried up at this point) was commissioned.
This was the first craft to be able to land almost anywhere on Kerbin and made several successfully trips to other continents and returned, each time bringing back a little more understanding.
A second attempt at reaching the north pole was made and this time it was a success and both the tundra and pole where landed at. On the way Jeb passed some truly beautify landscape and discovered a new type of tree that he'd never seen before.
It was then modified to have a single rocket engine in conjunction with two jet engines (instead of 3 jet engines) and became the first craft to reach the upper atmosphere. However due to a tragic laminating accident in which three kerbals lost their lives, no photos of this craft remain.
Still space was out of their reach. That is until the development of their latest jet, the SO1 which made the first suborbital trip and Jebediah became the first kerbal to leave the atmosphere and touch the inky blackness.
Fuelled by the excitement of being in space and a substantial amount of funding this trip brought in, it was all the others could do to stop him making further attempts. He believes that one day a plane will be able to leave the ground and orbit the planet, he even believes that it is possible for such a plane to fly to the moons, land and return. No-one really believes him, but he's determined to prove them wrong.
“If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance”
- Orville Wright
So that's been my last week in career mode, trying to do it with aircraft alone. Like Jeb I'm sure is possible to work my may up to SSTO level but its been hard work! To anyone who is finding career mode too easy, I invite you to try doing it the "Wrong" way!
Thanks for reading,
There are more updates to this in the comments, here are the links to the other chapters;
Chapter 2 - Circumnavigation of Kerbin
Chapter 3 - Higher Orbit
Chapter 4 - First Mun flyby and First Minmus encounter
Chapter 5 - Super fast SSTO followed by first Mun orbit, an almost fatal mission (plus the first VTOL)
Chapter 6 - Jebs encounter with Mt. Villain, a Mun Orbit without incident and the First off world landing, on Minmus.
Chapter 7 - The Oddity, the first craft to land on Mun
Chapter 8 - Multi-stage science mission to 8 Mun biomes
Chapter 9 - Construction of GammaLeo, the first orbital station
Chapter 10 - The Duna Glider, first interplanetary mission.
Chapter 11 - Mission to Laythe and the completion of the tech tree. Plus some bonus craft and the introduction of some mod based ground support craft.
download all the craft from this career
Chapter 12 - The story continues, but with the addition of mods. Jeb builds some sea worthy planes and a floating house to chill in.