I knew the Wright brothers spent years building castles in the sand at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to give birth to aviation; I just had no idea they spent almost as much time defending and protecting the patents to their aeronautical designs once their dreams were realized; or that the U.S. government contributed significantly to that struggle.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Wilbur wrote: “From the time we were little children my brother Orville and myself lived together, worked together and, in fact, thought together. We usually owned all our toys in common, talked over our thoughts and aspirations so that nearly everything that was done in our lives has been the result of conversations, suggestions and discussions between us.”
The National Park Service certainly went the distance in providing the details of the contributions of the Wright brothers;
I’m sure you’ve heard of Charles Lindberg; he made the first non-stop solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927.
It didn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see the leap from early hang-gliders to powered plane. It was an impressive leap of faith, indestructible in the face of such determination (the Wright brothers created their own wind tunnel at Kitty Hawk to hone their efforts), commitment (they were married to their work), and sacrifice (they had no financial backing).
The U.S. government would never do that, right?
It took decades and a public apology for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to secure the 1903 Wright Flyer used in those historic first flights at Kill Devil Hills in Kitty Hawk.
Apparently former Smithsonian secretary Samuel Langley was part of that race to be the first to fly at the turn of the century. When his experiments with his Langley Aerodrome ended in failure nine days before the Wright’s historic Kitty Hawk flight, the Smithsonian later altered the Aerodrome aircraft and then tried to pass it off as the first machine “capable” of flight. You don't say!
A furious Orville instead loaned the Wright Flyer to London’s Science Museum in 1925 (Wilbur died in 1912 of typhoid fever at the age of 45), waiting almost two decades for the Smithsonian Institute to admit their culpability in misrepresenting the Langley Aerodrome. Only then would Orville consent to donating his aircraft to the Smithsonian. Orville died before his plane arrived at the Smithsonian in 1948.
History is quite often disturbing! Some might liken it to turbulence.
Call me a Pollyanna, but I’d just as soon focus on the big picture, on the gravity-defying miracle of flight on an infinite highway of thin air; and on the unimaginable possibilities . . . such as a seat in First Class!