David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers


I’ve done my share of reviewing of books and music on Amazon’s site, but I’ve been giving more attention lately to my site.  I’ve also been busy writing my own book.  This book was a gift, so I’ll give it a brief review here.  I also see that the author has gotten a large number of well deserved great reviews Amazon.

David McCullough does a great job bringing alive the world of Dayton, Ohio at the turn of the last turn of the Century.  He tells what it was like to be a middle class, middle American in a medium size city during that time.  It was a time of transition from a mostly agrarian life to the machine age.

Wilbur and Orville Wright were bicycle salesmen and mechanics with a high school education who had a burning desire to build a flying machine.  They did research both in the library; about others who had flown, such as the glider pilot Otto Lileanthal.  Like Lileanthal, they went into the field to watch  birds fly.  They made notes on the differences in soaring and gliding technique between hen hawks and buzzards.   They came to an understanding of the principles of lift.

Then, they assembled a glider, and sent letters to the Smithsonian Institution to find a place where the winds were strong enough, with the properly designed wings, to lift their light gliders without an engine at first.  The Smithsonian recommended the outer shore of North Carolina.  Thus, they found Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  Later, they returned to Kitty Hawk with an airplane, including a four cylinder engine designed by their bicycle mechanic, Charlie Taylor.

It is a fascinating story and McCullough does a great job of telling it.  He also tells the downside of  fame as it effected them and the dangers of flying, which nearly killed Orville.  My mother, would have loved to read this book.  You can get it at Amazon.  Updated and improved.

About Richard Rollo

I am a retired Community College Instructor. I taught Political Science 1 American Government for 22 years in Southern California. I am originally from Northern Minnesota. My earliest years were spent in the living quarters of a rural Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific Railway Depot. Then my family joined the great 1950's migration to Southern California where I joined up with fellow baby boomers in overcrowded schools.
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