The Wright Brothers
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The #1 New York Times bestseller from David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize—the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly—Wilbur and Orville Wright.
On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two brothers—bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio—changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe that the age of flight had begun, with the first powered machine carrying a pilot.
Orville and Wilbur Wright were men of exceptional courage and determination, and of far-ranging intellectual interests and ceaseless curiosity. When they worked together, no problem seemed to be insurmountable. Wilbur was unquestionably a genius. Orville had such mechanical ingenuity as few had ever seen. That they had no more than a public high school education and little money never stopped them in their mission to take to the air. Nothing did, not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off, they risked being killed.
In this “enjoyable, fast-paced tale” (The Economist), master historian David McCullough “shows as never before how two Ohio boys from a remarkable family taught the world to fly” (The Washington Post) and “captures the marvel of what the Wrights accomplished” (The Wall Street Journal). He draws on the extensive Wright family papers to profile not only the brothers but their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them. Essential reading, this is “a story of timeless importance, told with uncommon empathy and fluency…about what might be the most astonishing feat mankind has ever accomplished…The Wright Brothers soars” (The New York Times Book Review).
seeing my determination”: Carl J. Crane, “Interview with Orville Wright,” University of Dayton Exponent, April 1924; Jakab and Young, eds., The Published Writings of Wilbur and Orville Wright, 60. offering “BIG BARGAINS”: West Side News, March 1, 1889. The editorial content for this: Material taken from various issues of West Side News at the Dayton Metropolitan Library, Dayton, Ohio. “Orville Wright is out of sight”: See McFarland, ed., The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Vol. 2, 695–96,
need to fuss”: Ibid., 38. had been taken for a “nut”: Medina County Gazette, May 1, 1923; New York Times, April 4, 1971. he was a man of strong religious convictions: Root, Gleanings in Bee Culture, September 1, 1904. “Mr. Root seems to be a fine gentleman”: Milton Wright, Diaries, 1857–1917, 618. “If such sensational and tremendously important experiments”: Scientific American, January 1906. “If they will not take our word”: Tobin, To Conquer the Air, 263. An officer of the British Army’s
were seven rooms, three downstairs, four up, all of them small, as was the lot. Only two feet separated the house from Number 5 next door on the north side. To get between the houses required one to turn and walk sideways. The brothers were well into their twenties before there was running water or plumbing in the house. Weekly baths were accomplished sitting in a tub of hot water on the kitchen floor, with the curtains drawn. An open well and wooden pump, outhouse, and carriage shed were out
so loudly and the propellers humming so that after the trip one is almost deaf. A reporter from the Paris Herald took a turn, then another reporter from Le Figaro, then several Russian officers. The “accommodating attitude of this man that we took great pleasure in depicting as a recluse, is inexhaustible,” wrote the reporter from Le Figaro. Clearly Wilbur was having a grand time. “Queen Margherita of Italy was in the crowd yesterday,” he wrote on October 9. “You have let me witness the most
Mexico, and Argentina, in addition to ferryboats, tenders, colliers, all manner of river craft, and the giant luxury liner Lusitania—no fewer than 1,595 vessels. Added to all this was the promise that for the first time New Yorkers were to witness airplane flights over their waters. On Governors Island in Upper New York Bay, half a mile southeast of Manhattan, two hangars had been provided, almost side by side, one for Wilbur, the other for Curtiss. When Curtiss arrived to look things over, he