“A Machine Of Practical Utility”

While lauded for their 1903 flight, the Wright brothers were not convinced of their airplane’s reliability to sustain long, controlled flights until October 1905

On the morning of October 5, 1905, Amos Stauffer and a field hand were cutting corn when the distinctive clatter and pop of an engine and propellers drifted over from the neighboring pasture. The Wright boys, Stauffer knew, were at it again. Glancing up, he saw the flying machine rise above the heads of the dozen or so spectators gathered along the fence separating the two fields. The machine drifted toward the crowd, then sank back to earth in a gentle arc. The first flight of the day was over in less than 40 seconds. Read more »

The First Season at Kitty Hawk

What the Wright brothers did in a wild and distant place made its name famous around the world. Their biographer visits the Outer Banks to find what remains of the epochal outpost.

Wilbur Wright boarded a Big Four train at the Union Station in Dayton, Ohio, at six-thirty on the evening of Thursday, September 6, 1900. Thirty-three years old, he was setting off on the first great adventure of his life. Other than a trip to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago with his younger brother, Orville, in 1893, Wilbur had ventured no farther than a bicycle ride from his home in more than sixteen years.Read more »

“The Air Age Was Now”

As well as being geniuses, the Wright brothers were methodical craftsmen of astonishing persistence. An aeronautical expert supplies the fascinating technical and personal details of their legendary achievement.

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The Intrepid Mr. Curtiss

America has long been celebrated as a nation of inventive tinkerers. As President Grant’s patent commissioner remarked a century ago, “our merchants invent, our soldiers and sailors invent, our schoolmasters invent, our professional men invent, aye, our women and children invent.” On occasion one of these tinkerers among us is touched with enough genius to influence history. Glenn Hammond Curtiss is a case in point. Read more »