Monday, December 07, 2009

On My Nightstand: Conquering the Sky

Conquering the Sky, The Secret Flights of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, by Larry Tise, is an interesting read about the early history of powered flight and the journalistic standards of the day.

Much of the insight isn't necessarily about the flights by the Wright Brothers during May 1908, when they proved that their flight control systems worked and that they could carry passengers, but how the media circus developed based on the hearsay evidence of those who didn't even witness the reports. Moreover, it shows the lengths to which newspapers went to create news and relied upon wildly inaccurate reports without even so much as a whisper of veracity.

What we do know is that the Wright Brothers were secretive about their efforts at Kitty Hawk in 1908, and that they were intent not on setting records there, but to confirm that their flight systems worked as intended. It was only incidental that one of their flights - a two-person flight - was observed by reporters, confirming that the Wright Brothers had mastered the problem of flight.

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