Growing up in a state where the interstates are littered with car tags claiming “first in flight” the history of the airplane and the Wright Brothers is a story I’ve heard since elementary school.
In fifth grade, I had the opportunity to take a field trip to the Outer Banks and Kitty Halk. At the time, I had no interest in the history behind it and didn’t think much of the sand dunes and museum.
I just completed reading the history of the Wright Brothers by David McCullough and it was a fantastic look at the lives of both brothers, their father, and sister Katherine.
Besides a history lesson, a lot of knowledge can be gained from this book.
The brothers drive and determination was unwavering as they designed, tested, and flew the first airplane. Before this, they spent years studying scientific journals and papers, then spent a great deal of time just watching the birds fly. All to gain more insight into what they were trying to accomplish.
When they put their minds to it they scraped by with the profits from their business never accepting any outside funding. This is in stark contrast to the Langley project:
Not incidentally, the Langley project had cost nearly $70,000, the greater part of it public money, whereas the brothers’ total expenses for everything from 1900 to 1903, including materials and travel to and from Kitty Hawk, came to a little less than $1,000, a sum paid entirely from the modest profits of their bicycle business.
Work ethic was another area that I really enjoyed. Here is a summation of a story when one of the brothers was in France for the first debut of a public flight.
The flyer arrived all torn up and had to be rebuilt. A wealthy man allowed him to use a big room in his business as a workshop and even gave him men to help with the rebuild. These men could barely understand English and were more of a hindrance, however, Mr. Wright kept the same work schedule as the other workers. When the lunch whistle blew he took lunch. When the end of day whistle blew he went home. Neither brother ever worked on Sunday and it seemed like they knew all the pieces would come together at the right time. Unlike many of us today.
Neither brother ever talked about bad about a competitor and was always humble. Even after being ridiculed in the papers as loons, liars, and idiots. A much different world than what we see from leaders today.