The Wright Brothers, First Flight, History of Airplanes
Lyanne Wescott
(Eastern Acorn Press)

Their time in North Carolina wasn't just a winter of fun experiments with the first motorized airplane. They spent a total of eleven years being eaten alive by mosquitoes, begging money from the family, and painstakingly experimenting with gliders, then, later, gliders with motors.

What was unusual was that the two of them, with no scientific background, used the scientific method: rigorous experimentation, elaborate notes, and --- so important for this grand book --- extensive photographs.

After the epochal flight of December 17, 1903 --- they returned to Dayton where over the next few years, they continued to fly around a small local field, totally ignored by newsmen, journalists, and writers of the time. The sole exception was one Amos Root, editor of Gleanings in Bee Culture. Orville's letters and journal entries are art in their own, unh, Wright:

    During the time the engine was being built we were engaged in some very heated discussions on the principles of screw propellers. We had been unable to find anything of value in any of the works to which we had access, so that we worked out a theory of our own on the subject, and soon discovered, as we usually do, that all the propellers built heretofore are all wrong, and then built a pair of propellers 8-1/8 ft. in diameter, based on our theory, which are all right! (till we have a chance to test them down at Kitty Hawk and find out differently.) It's astonishing that all those secrets have been preserved for so many years just so that we could discover them.

Orville, obviously, shared the view of Thomas Edison: all important answers grow, solely, from important questions.

--- A. G. Peters

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