This error here is that the Wrights actually started with 600 pounds, and added 200 pounds, and then another 200 pounds.
|Catapult and Hangar reproduction as displayed at Huffman Prairie, Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio.|
"By this time the brothers were routinely making controlled flights in their aircraft of 25 miles or more."
This sentence as written sounded very familiar. Searching my memory, I recalled I had seen this quote from Mark Bernstein's book "Wright Brother's Home Days Celebration, 1909", 2003, Chapter "The Welcome", pg 1, in which Mark wrote-
"By 1905, their aircraft was routinely making controlled flights of 25 miles or more."
|From Aero Club of America, March 12, 1906 statement, flight lengths Huffman Prairie, 1905.|
This perhaps should be worded differently. Flight tests were discontinued in 1905. Engine tests continued, but not flight tests.
Next, chapter Eight, "Triumph at Le Mans", pg 155, McCullough writes about the Wrights returning to Kill Devil Hills in 1908, "Though he had been forewarned that the camp at Kill Devil Hills was in shambles, what Wilbur found was worse than he had imagined. Of the original building, only the sides still stood. The new building was gone, carried off by violent storms or vandals.....Walking among the ruins he kept turning up pieces and parts of the 1901, 1902, and 1903 machines."
The error here, is the mention of the 1903 machine. The 1903 machine (the Wright Flyer) had been crated and sent back to Dayton Ohio, late December 1903. The glider that was used for practice in 1903 was the 1902 glider that had been left behind in 1902. There was no 1903 machine at Kill Devil Hills in 1908 of which to find pieces and parts.
Within the first group of photos within the book, Steele High School and the Main street bridge is shown. David incorrectly identifies the photo as "The Third Street Bridge over the Miami River, with the towered Steele High School on the right..."
Again, these are minor errors within a 267 page book. "The Wright Brothers" is an enjoyable read. David McCullough's positive portrayal of the brothers is refreshing and his book is welcomed as a defender of the Wright Brother's accomplishments.
Another enjoyable read is "Gentleman Amateurs- An Appreciation of Wilbur and Orville Wright" by Mark Bernstein. The pictures depicted throughout this book are a pleasure to view, as they are often full page, or spread across two pages. There are a number of quotes given however that could use correction or clarification, and those are offered here.
Under the section "The Bishop and His Lady", we read "In the mid-1800's Susan contracted tuberculosis, which is a slow death. Hers came on July 4, 1889. Wilbur was 22; Orville, 18. Milton wrote in his diary, "And thus went out the life of my home." Milton actually wrote "And thus went out the light of my home."
In section "A Propeller is a Spinning Wing", we read "Wilbur later wrote: 'Nothing about a propeller, or the medium in which it acts, stand still for a moment. The thrust depends upon the speed and the angle at which the blade strikes the air, the angle at which the blade strikes the air depends upon the speed at which the propeller is turning, the speed at which the machine is traveling forward, and the speed at which the air is slipping backward; (while) the slip of the air backward depends upon the thrust exerted by the propeller, and the amount of air acted upon. When any of these changes, it changes all the rest.'" This was actually written by Orville, not Wilbur, as discussed in McFarland's The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Vol 1, The Wright Propellers, page 596, quoted from Orville's 1913 Flying article.
In section "A Team No Longer", we read "Wilbur died early on May 30, aged 45.......Wilbur had several months earlier provided a sort of epitaph for himself. In a letter to Octave Chanute, he wrote:
"If there be a domineering, tyrant thought, it is the conception that the problem of flight may be solved by man. When once this idea has invaded the brain, it possesses it exclusively. It is then a haunting thought, a walking nightmare, impossible to cast off. If we now consider the pitying contempt with which such a line of research is appreciated, we may somewhat conceive the unhappy lot of the investigator whose soul is thus possessed." Wilbur died in 1912, and Octave Chanute died in 1910, so obviously, Wilbur did not write this in a letter several months prior to his death to Chanute. The quote was written by Louis Pierre Mouillard in his 1881 book "The Empire of the Air". Wilbur quoted Mouillard in an article published by Literary Digest April 27, 1912.
Page 234-235 of Gentleman Amateurs depicts a biplane passing through Tower Bridge, titled "The old meets the new"- In 1912, a Wright airplane made a demonstration flight in London, including a pass through Tower Bridge." The picture however does not show a Wright biplane, but instead shows Frank McClean in a modified Short seaplane.
I'll add to this post over time with other examples.
(1) My intent in writing this post is two fold. First to point out that errors do exist in many of the historical books we read, and that given, we need to be watchful, and careful not to repeat any error. Second intent, is to simply correct the history.
(2) For the errors I mention, I don't know if corrections have been made in later editions. I am simply using the edition within my own library collection.
(3) McFarland "The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright" as recorded in Wilbur Wright's Diary, 1904-1905, pages 13-17, Wednesday, September 7, 1904-
For David McCullough's Miniseries parody script, see "Tom Hanks and the Wright Brothers Miniseries"
Also check out "American Genius- Wright Brothers vs. Curtiss- The True Story"