It’s December 17th — the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first machine powered air flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In remembrance of that date 109 years ago, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries is featuring The Wright Flyer: An Engineering Perspective by Howard S. Wolko and John David Anderson. The online version of this 1987 Smithsonian Institution Press book is available via the Internet Archive. Continue reading
Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
Dedication of the Wright brothers home and shop in Greenfield village, Dearborn, Michigan, April sixteen, nineteen hundred thirty-eight. 1938? The photographic print is from the original negative of the only picture taken of man's first flight, Kitty Hawk, N.C . . .
Today, August 19, is National Aviation Day, as well as being Orville Wright's birthday. He was born in 1871. The Libraries has many titles in its collections centering on Orville and his brother, as can be determined from a quick search. Some highlights:
Honoring Mr. Orville Wright on the fortieth anniversary of the first flights of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, 17 December 1903. Hotel Statler, Washington, D.C., 17 December 1943.
The relations between the Smithsonian Institution and the Wright brothers, by Charles G. Abbot.
The Wright family genealogies: excerpts from the Andrews, Clapp, Stokes, Wright, Van Cleve genealogies : compiled with Ainsworth, Black, Crowe, Dickey, Elston, Garibaldi, Heller, Patterson, Ross, Scott, Sanford, Urbine, and Wilson family connections. by Alfred Stokes Andrews ; graciously assisted by Estelle Garibaldi Andrews.
Les frères Wright et leur oeuvre, par Geo. Bia … Rapport présenté à la Section aéronautique de la Société belge des ingénieurs et des industriels. Illustré par Fox …
Touching the sky: the flying adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright Louise Borden & Trish Marx ; illustrated by Peter Fiore.
Happy birthday, Orville!
Albert Francis Zahm, The Smithsonian Report for 1914, 1915, Langley Aeroplane (Built 1898-1903) Ready for Launching at Hammondsport, N.Y., May 28, 1914.
This image, from The first man-carrying aeroplane capable of sustained free flight: Langley's success as a pioneer in aviation, by A. F. Zahm, Publisher: Washington : G.P.O., 1915, depicts the Langley Aeroplane, ready for launching on May 28, 1914, six years after the death of Samuel Pierpont Langley.
The background history of this photograph is fascinating, highlighting the Smithsonian/Wright Brothers feud, as outlined on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) website:
Langley Aerodrome A
The remains of the Aerodrome A were left with the Smithsonian Institution by the War Department. In 1914, the Smithsonian contracted Glenn Curtiss, a prominent American aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturer, to rebuild the Langley Aerodrome A and conduct further flight tests. With significant modifications and improvements, Curtiss was able to coax the Aerodrome A into the air for a number of brief, straight-line flights at Hammondsport, N.Y. After the tests, the airplane was returned to the Smithsonian, restored to its original unsuccessful 1903 configuration, and put on public display in 1918. Smithsonian officials misleadingly identified the Aerodrome A in its label text as the world's first airplane "capable of sustained free flight." The Aerodrome A had, indeed, existed before the Wright brothers' successful 1903 Flyer, but it only flew much later and even then in heavily modified form, making the Smithsonian claim inappropriate at best. This action was, partly, what prompted Orville Wright in 1928 to lend the 1903 Flyer to the Science Museum in London as a gesture of protest regarding the Smithsonian's seeming unwillingness to give him and his brother, Wilbur, full credit for having invented the airplane. The Smithsonian finally clarified the history of the Aerodrome A and its later flight testing in its 1942 annual report, satisfying Orville, and thereby clearing the way for the return of the Wright Flyer to the United States and its donation to the Smithsonian in 1948. The Aerodrome A continued to be displayed in the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries building with a revised label until 1971, when it was removed from public exhibition and restored again by the NASM restoration staff.
History, made and revised.—Elizabeth Periale
Samuel P. Langley, third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, began his experiments with flight by designing models powered by rubber bands. He went on to almost beat the Wright Brothers in inventing the first airplane, according to the Smithsonian online exhibition, Samuel P. Langley, Aviation Pioneer.
S. P. (Samuel Pierpont) Langley, Langley memoir on mechanical flight. pt. 1-2, 1911, Rubber pull model aerodrome
On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers were the first men in history to make powered, sustained and controlled flights in an airplane. The machine, engine and propellers were all of their own design and construction. It was bitterly cold that morning and a gusty 27 mile-per-hour wind scoured the sand dunes. It seemed unsafe to try their flying machine but Orville and Wilbur Wright decided to start from the level ground before their camp. As was typical of all of their efforts, the Wright brothers carefully and methodically made their preparations.
The Flyers: In Search of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Adams, Noah. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2003.
Inventing Flight: the Wright Brothers and Their Predecessors. Anderson, John David.Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
Gentleman Amateurs: An Appreciation of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Bernstein, Mark and Ron Rollins (Editor). Dayton, OH: Dayton Daily News, 2002.
The Bishop's Boys: A Life of the Wright Brothers. Crouch, Tom. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2003.
First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane. Crouch, Tom. Harpers Ferry, WV: National Park Service Division of Publications, 2002.
Kitty Hawk and Beyond: The Wright Brothers and the Early Years of Aviation – a Photographic History.Geibert, Ronald et al.Lanham, MD: Roberts Rinehart Publisher, 2003.
First to Fly: The Unlikely Triumph of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Tobin, James. London: John Murray, 2003.
To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight.Tobin, James.Riverside, NJ: Simon & Schuster, 2004.
How We Invented the Airplane: An Illustrated History. Wright, Orville and Wilbur Wright. Minneola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1998.
Miracle at Kitty Hawk: The Letters of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Wright, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Fred C Kelly. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, Inc., 2002.
A short film of Wilbur Wright in 1909 can be viewed here.—Elizabeth Periale