The Wright Brothers had a prominent presence in my youth as our family lived in Dayton during my father’s years stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and our years in North Carolina where we would venture to the outer-banks and once stayed across the street from the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kill Devil Hills. Also, our hometown of Muncie, Indiana, is in a bordering county to that of Millsville, where the Wright family once lived and where Wilbur was born.

The Wright BrothersThe Wright Brothers by David McCullough
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Most believe the Wright Brothers received their fame due to their first flight which lasted only a matter of seconds, however, McCullough’s biographical account brings to light the depth of their achievements beyond the initial flight.

They performed numerous demonstrations of their “flying machine” for several countries in addition to the United States and accumulated a vast number of flying hours. Wilbur spent an entire year during one visit to Europe. Also, the amount of administrative effort to build their corporation, file anti-patent lawsuits, deal with the incredible amount of publicity (bad and good), and to maintain their close family ties, shows the incredible resilience and persistence of these great American icons.

Just like the invention of the light bulb, the automobile, and wireless radio, there were many others on the verge of the discovery, but the claim of honor goes to only one. In this case, Wilbur and Orville Wright were clearly the front-runners as most of the competition gave up, believing that for man to “fly like a bird” was either impossible or, at least, many years down the road.

Though the shortest work I’ve seen by McCullough, he tells the story as brilliantly as ever.

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Banner image source: Travis on “Four Powered Flights”

Steve D.

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