by Erin K. | | 4 Comments | Tags:

Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club!

In case you’re just joining us, this month we’re reading the Big Read book, The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough.

In the second section, chapters five through eight, the story really gets interesting. In chapter five, the brothers finally have success and are able to fly. Wasn’t it so interesting to see the text from the telegram that Orville sent home to his sister and father? I couldn’t believe that the telegram misspelled his name and misstated the length of the flight.

The last page of chapter five contained one of the most fascinating facts from the book, for me. McCullough claims that in the three years that the brothers were working on their plane, they only spent $1,000. That figure includes the materials and the traveling between Dayton and Kitty Hawk. Can you believe that they were able to achieve such a great historical achievement with so little money—and without borrowing any money? McCullough notes that the money they spent on flight was just money that came from profits of their bike shop.

Were you surprised that most of the early interest the Wright brothers had with their planes was from France? Before reading this, I just assumed that when the Wright brothers first flew, everyone in America immediately took notice. But, as the book notes, the first interest in the plane came from the British government, not the American government. Why do you think that the American government was so uninterested in the Wright Brothers? I guess it makes sense that they were careful to get too excited about flight since so many others had promised exciting airplanes, but still, it seems like the Wright brothers were so consistent and successful, so I am surprised that people weren’t more excited when they heard about the planes the brothers were constructing.

One thing I have really enjoyed about reading this book is the fact that it has encouraged me to look the archives of some local papers and read some old articles about the Wright Brothers. I’ve found so many great articles by looking at the newspaper databases on the Greene County Public Library website. If you type in the Wright Brothers in the search box on the Dayton Daily News database, you can find so many cool original articles. I highly recommend that you take a little time to explore the databases and articles. It’s just really fascinating to see firsthand accounts about the feelings surrounding the Wright Brothers.

If you’re interested in seeing a video showing a test flight made by the Wright brothers, check out this video on the History Channel’s website.

I hope you enjoyed this section. Please let me know what you thought by leaving a comment. And I hope to see you next week as we talk about the final chapters!

4 Responses to “The Wright Brothers: Week 3”

  1. Carrol

    The book continues to keep me interested and involved. I enjoy learning the specifics about these two incredible men.

    I like reading the letters that were sent back and forth to family members. The ones at home don’t want to miss out on anything even though they are so far away.

    I am so challenged by all of the hard work of Wilbur and Orville. These men made great use of every minute they had. It is hard to imagine that they would have any regrets about the way they lived their lives. They persevered through the hardships and setbacks.

    I also was surprised by the Americans reaction to what these men were achieving. I still can’t believe they spent so little money and were using their own money. That should have told the American gov’t something very special about these men. It took a long time for the people in Dayton to realize the “history” that was taking place in their own backyard.

    One of the funniest parts of this section was when Wilbur went after the reporter who was taking pictures even though he was tod it was forbidden. Wow! He actually took the guys plates and camera. Wilbur wasn’t messing around!

    Thanks again for the additional sites you have provided. They are always so helpful. Just watching that short video got me excited.

    • Erin K.

      I, too, can’t get over the work ethic of these two guys. I felt so guilty as I was reading because I don’t work nearly as hard as they did! They were able to accomplish so much!

      Can you imagine what would happen to Wilbur now if he went after a paparazzi? Wilbur would get in trouble if he were to destroy someone’s camera now! But, I appreciate how he just wanted the man to follow the rules.

      I am so glad that you enjoy the extra videos and links, Carrol! Thanks for taking the time to check them out! I hope to hear from you next week!

  2. Jane Engle

    Having had problems last week with posting, I realized part of my comments got omitted. Among them were the fact that my husband also was employed by Wright Patterson Air Force Base and that his grandmother graduated from Steele High School. In reading this weeks section of the book, his family also had more connections with what took place. When arrangements were made for the French contingent to meet with the Wrights they stayed at the Beckel Hotel. My husband’s grandfather was the desk clerk there when it became a housing facility too and his great uncle lived and died there.

    When looking at the telegram that Katherine and her father received from Orville in which his name was misspelled and the length of his flight inaccurate, I was interested in finding out what would have been entailed in sending and receiving it. Thomas A. Edison wrote a description of various telegraph systems that was published in Appleton’s Cyclopedia of Applied Mechanics in 1880. Along with information included in Samuel F. B. Morse’s writings, it is surprising that the message was received in any form whether accurate or not. It reminded me of the game of telephone in which one person whispers a message to another, which is passed through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group.

    During the late 19th and early 20th centuries many inventions came about as a result of necessity, hard work and trial-and-error methods. Many inventors like the Wright Brothers had limited funds which meant things had to be done inexpensively by the person or persons who came up with the ideas. Anything that required outlaying of funds was extremely limited. It is not surprising to discover the Wright Brothers with their upbringing and personal values, despite their desires, considered expenses for the luxury of testing their flying machines to be a low priority.

    Since Americans had become used to the failures of others to produce a flying machine, I am not surprised that they were not interested in what the Wright Brothers were doing. If well-known and respected professionals had not been successful, how could these two “amateurs.” Many people accepted the situation by thinking and saying, “God doesn’t intend people to fly.” That ended any further discussion or thought on the subject as far as they were concerned. Little did they realize what was going to happen.

    I enjoyed watching the video of the 1909 Test Flight and knowing we can watch what originally took place so many years ago. I also look forward to reading and seeing more information that is available online.

  3. Erin K.

    Jane, I am just so impressed by all of the family connections you have to the Wright Brothers! How cool! I am so interested to learn more about Steele High School. I bet it was just so cool looking. I wish it had been able to be saved.

    I loved your comment that the telegram was like a game of telephone. It’s true–they got some of the info right, just like in the game, but everything wasn’t completely right.

    Thanks for your comment about why the Americans might not have been too interested in their accomplishments. It makes sense that people would be wary since they were just “amateurs.”

    Thanks for commenting and telling about your own personal connections! I hope to hear from you next week!

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