Friday, June 12, 2015

The Wright Brothers

Who has not heard of Orville and Wilbur Wright and the exciting very short flight on the sandy mounds of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina? It was the beginning of man's flight through the skies.

I am sure had not the Wright Brothers been successful in their attempts, some other ingenious soul would have figured it all out but that is not what happened.

The book club, to which I belong, chose "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough as this month's read. I just finished it and I was captivated. I highly recommend this book. The story is a part of our history and continues on in the way we travel for pleasure and to fight wars.

The book is well written as you might expect coming from David McCullough. It is well researched and holds a large number of wonderful photographs of both the Wright family and of their trials and tribulations of their invention.


Orville and Wilbur (Wilbur was the eldest) were very quiet, unassuming young men who ran a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. But, they had a dream, a dream of flying through the air like the birds. Both were high school graduates with no formal training to suggest that they had special abilities except for this strong desire. They were dogged in their pursuit of that desire. They were honest, steadfast and devoted to the cause.

America did not embrace these young men as they grew more and more adept at getting off the ground. So, Wilbur went to France where soon great crowds gathered to watch every time his machine took off and gained altitude, circled the field, sometimes crashed. They cheered and went mad with delight. Soon the Wright Brothers were famous in Europe. Finally the U. S. caught on and welcomed them home with the largest celebration Dayton had ever seen.

The role that their father played in their lives, as well as that of their sister, Katherine was interesting to learn. The struggles to be recognized as great inventors, to be accepted as such, were great. So much of what was in that book I had never heard so it was an education to me as well as an enjoyable read. The book tells of the people who were huge supporters and of those who tried to discredit them.

I've been to Kitty Hawk to the Wright Brothers Museum but it's been years. I've eaten many times at the Black Pelican Restaurant near the Museum where one or maybe both ran to send a wire after that first successful flight. It was a small building then, I think a life saving station. It had the only wire anywhere around so that he could send a telegram to alert the world that yes, Wilbur had actually flown, a few feet, but flown nevertheless. Oh what a feel of accomplishment that must have been.

I hope you will add this to your reading list. I don't think you will be sorry.


  1. I will add that to my list indeed, always great to read stories of accomplishment. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great review, Mom! I was surprised you were finished with the book this quickly, and I am so anxious to read it myself! Glad your book club chose this one. It is a new work by McCullough, and he is a wonderful writer. I love histories like this!

  3. I will look forward to finding this one. I have read some of his other books and had the pleasure of hearing him speak in 2003 at my daughter Emily's commencement at Dartmouth.


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