THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, David McCullough

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by j1b3h0, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. j1b3h0

    j1b3h0 Line Up and Wait

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    Presently on the NY Times bestsellers list, I received this volume as a gift. This well written and illustrated biography will acquaint readers with the dogged work ethic, attention to detail, study habits and the step by stumbled-step of Wilbur and Orville attempting to do what was then impossible. They read everything they could get their hands on - Lilienthal, Langley, Chanute...they spent countless hours watching all manner of birds manuevre. They never doubted that they could build a light enough machine to fly - what consumed them was how to control it...and, not insignificantly, learn to fly it. Many gliders, crashes, injuries, repairs and experiments later, they did it. Almost no one cared (or really believed them). Kitty Hawk was about as remote as Antarctica in 1903. The story becomes much more interesting in the second half of the book, when Wilbur goes to Paris and single-handedly demonstrates the machine to the French. Then it happened. The world knew. The Wright Brothers were rock stars. I enjoyed it.
     
  2. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    To Conquer the Air by James Tobin is also pretty good too. Same subject.
     
  3. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair Pre-Flight

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    Thanks for the book review Doug.

    I saw this title listed recently when I was checking up on one of my books, so I appreciate the insight. It looks like it'll be going on my reading list. :)

    Cheers
     
  4. GWFirstinFlight

    GWFirstinFlight Filing Flight Plan

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    From what I have seen of this book and heard from its author, it was poorly researched. Another book, "The WRight Story" by Joe Bullmer, is more historically accurate. Bullmer is an aeronautical engineer who worked at Wright Patterson AFB in the intelligence sector for 30 years. He analyzed foreign aircraft and designs, and became interested in the Wrights and their airplanes, while there. While we may like a heroic story, it is a fact that the Wrights were pretty unpopular back in their era, with very good reason. Another new book, "Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight" by Susan Brinchman (available on Amazon.com) reveals (through documents and other primary source materials) what was going on in 1901 with early aviation, a true account you rarely have heard. When we examine history, we have to look at facts. Try learning a bit more that isn't filtered through the Smithsonian channels....
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  5. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    He's baaaack...

    We salute you mister one subject internet poster guy..
     
  6. GWFirstinFlight

    GWFirstinFlight Filing Flight Plan

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    I am interested in what actually happened as flight was emerging. It was a fascinating time. I think everyone on this board is likely interested in that.
     
  7. asechrest

    asechrest En-Route

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    Please, tell us more. No. really. :rolleyes2:
     
  8. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    No, you have demonstrated interest only in advancing Gustave Whitehead to displace the Wright Brothers, over a century after everything happened. Where are the original photos of Gustave in flight? Newspaper articles? Eyewitness accounts? Not much was made of him by people who knew him in 1901; why all of the hullabaloo now?

    Go away, ya bother me.
     
  9. JHW

    JHW En-Route

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    yes, people who succeed where everyone else has failed, are often unpopular among their failure-prone peers. Especially when the failures have government sponsorship and the successful inventors are self-made outsiders. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates could also be characterized as unpopular in their era.
     
  10. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Smithsonian curator Tom Crouch has written a few books on the subject as well. I've got pretty much signed copies of all his stuff because my wife when trying to find me a last minute gift hits the bookshop at the museum and then finds Tom to sign them to me.
     
  11. yakdriver

    yakdriver Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'm in the middle of the book right now and find it a good read. Birdmen by Laurence Gladstone is a better book on early aviation. The Wrights got so caught up in defending their patents the rest of the world passed them by. Don
     
  12. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    I am interested in flying. I like flying.
    The wright brothers factor into that interest about as much as Henry Ford factors into my daily driving habits.

    I couldn't care less who is responsible for inventing it, I am just glad it was invented. Stop being a dildo.
     
  13. skyking3286

    skyking3286 Pre-Flight

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    I'm reading it too and I am learning something, which I didn't expect. I've been a fan of the Wrights biography since my youth and thought I knew it all. So I wasn't expecting to find some new wrinkles in the story.
     
  14. Hawker800

    Hawker800 Line Up and Wait

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    It really is a great book!
     
  15. RalphInCA

    RalphInCA Cleared for Takeoff

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    I just finished counting: there are now 172,300 books on the Wright brothers.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  16. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Neither railroads, aviation or the computer industry would have amounted to a rats azz without tremendous helps from the U.S. Government. It provided the money and the incentive for them and many others to get off the ground. The airmail Lindbergh flew was paid for by the government as were the scientists who developed the Internet. Jobs and gates were indeed talented and took advantage of underdeveloped uses. Same goes for major medical breakthroughs, etc.
     
  17. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    What help did the U.S. Government give to the Wright brothers?
     
  18. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Answer: the government gave the wright bros. Plenty of help. Better study more.
     
  19. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The Wrights practically LIVED on military contracts for years.
     
  20. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    Restating the assertion does not answer the question.
     
  21. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    Please be specific.
     
  22. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The Wright Brothers had an unhappy time trying to get any commercial or government paying interest in their achievements until the Wrights caught the eye of Frank Lahm in the Army. This led to the first solicitation that went out in 1907 and was awarded to the Wrights in 1909. They supplemented that with a bit of flight training (also primarily with the Army) and a Navy contract followed in 1911.

    Essentially unless the Army had issued that contract, they'd have been in dire straights. Others like Curtiss were building aircraft at the time and enjoying more success. There was the famous patent battle with Curtiss, but even that the Wrights didn't vigorously pursue keeping interlopers out of the market space.
     
  23. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Don't help him, let him make a bigger azz of himself.
     
  24. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Maybe my memory of history timelines is fading but it sounds like this "help" came several years after they had taken flight.
     
  25. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    So this help that the U.S. Government gave to the Wright brothers began about four years after they had achieved sustained, controlled, heavier-than-air-flight and was solely in the form of airplane purchases? No government funding of any research or development?
     
  26. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Never said otherwise. I was responding to Jimmy Cooper's theory that aviation wouldn't have progressed without Government assistance and YES that appears to be true. Absent the military's involvement with both the Wrights and Glenn Curtiss would not have made the subsequent advancements. WWI moved things along furhter.
     
  27. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I bought the book today. Haven't opened it yet though.
     
  28. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    Jimmy Cooper asserted the government provided the money and the incentive for aviation to get off the ground. He's wrong. The Wright brothers achieved flight without any government funds.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2015
  29. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If you meant his words of "off the ground" to literally mean getting to the point of first flight, perhaps. I took them in a more figurative sense in line with his intial statement about not amounting to a ratz azz, that the industry would not have become overly successful without such support.
     
  30. Mutts

    Mutts Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What a wonderful movie their story would make. But I guess we need Ant Man instead.
     
  31. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Can we merge these, and the Dumas or Dumont or whomever the other dude is is pushing threads and get a good battle royal, chair throwing, match going? :popcorn:
     
  32. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    True, but some of the first rides given were to secure military contracts.
     
  33. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Just downloaded a sample from iBooks. If it's halfway decent I'll spring for the whole book.

    Thanks again.
     
  34. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    You can't seem to stop being wrong. I stated that without the government, their career would have come to grief. They were up against the wall until the government stepped in. Grow up, get a grip.
     
  35. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    The first government act of support extended to the Wrights, the patent granted for what was essentially a discovery, served to stifle aviation development for years.
     
  36. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    Prove it.
     
  37. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    When did the Wrights 'get out of trouble'? They did not really come out ahead with their 'shut down all ops and sue' strategy of trying to capitalize on aviation.
     
  38. tinerj

    tinerj Cleared for Takeoff

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    A discovery in the scientific sense belongs to the one who makes the discovery available to the world at large. Those who fail in that task don't and shouldn't get credit for a discovery.

    Controlled powered heavier than air flight was as much a discovery as an invention.
     
  39. Gsxrpilot

    Gsxrpilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Meanwhile... I went and bought the kindle version of the book. Looking forward to reading it.
     
  40. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    Just got back from a trip that involved some very long airline flights, and I downloaded the book to my iPad to help pass the time. I'm about halfway through it now (just past the Selfridge crash) and am enjoying it.

    By modern standards the brothers would be considered "boring" characters -- disciplined, principled, hard-working. I'd think it would be tough to make a successful mass-market movie about them without taking a lot of literary license.