Today, Orville and Wilbur Wright are celebrated as heroes for their revolutionary contributions to science and engineering. They are acknowledged as the first men to successfully achieve powered, piloted flight. But their road to success was far from smooth. The Wright brothers encounter plenty of bumps, bruises, and mechanical failures along their way!
The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving into History takes the reader through the history of flight, beginning with Icarus. While many people made important discoveries about flight, the Wright brothers were the first to learn how to control a flyer and get it off the ground. While most people have heard about the Wright Brothers, the magnitude of their accomplishment cannot be fully appreciated until you have read The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving into History.
The Wright brothers were dedicated and they knew the importance of study and observation. In order to learn about flight, Wilbur reached out to the Smithsonian Institute and was given “any and all research available on aviation and human flight.” While the brothers studied and experimented, Wilbur and Orville also ran a successful business. The two brothers also had some epic failures, including injuries, embarrassments, and accidentally killing someone. Despite this, they persevered and never gave up on their dream. Their success was not based on luck. “It was hard work and common sense; they put their whole heart and soul and all their energy into an idea and they had the faith.”
The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving into History teaches history in an engaging way. Both historical pictures and cartoonish, black and white illustrations appear on most pages. Many of the illustrations are comical, such as when the brothers were “greeted by swarming mosquitoes.” The short chapters, large text, and illustrations that appear on almost every page make the book accessible to readers. Some of the vocabulary is explained; however, readers may still struggle with the difficult vocabulary. The book ends with a timeline of important events in flight history.
The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving into History uses a conversational tone that makes learning about history fun. The Wright brothers and other historical figures prove that failure is part of the process of achieving one’s dreams. Instead of looking at failure in a negative light, The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving into History shows that every failure can be a learning experience. The book highlights the importance of perseverance, dedication, and education. The Wright brothers “never let their failures get the better of them, never let anyone tell them something couldn’t be done, and never gave up on their dreams.”
- In 1808, two men went up in hot air balloons and “started shooting at each other’s balloons with their muskets.” The loser “tumbled hundreds of feet to his death.” Of course, the argument was about a lady.
- In 1861, Union soldier Thaddeus Lowe used a hot air balloon in battle. “While he was taking notes on troop positions the balloon broke away from the rope holding it to the ground. . .” The Confederates captured him.
- While playing ice hockey, Wilbur “took a hockey stick to his face, smashing out most of his teeth, laying him out, and injuring him so badly he had to drop out of school to recover.”
- Otto Lilienthal created a glider, but he “lost control of his glider, fell fifty feet, and broke his back on impact with the ground. He died the next day.”
- During a flying demonstration, Orville and Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge went up in the air. The flyer “plummeted several hundred feet, then smashed hard into the dirt, crumpling into wreckage and sending bits of plane scattering in every direction. [Selfridge] became the first person in history to die in a plane crash.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- When Charles Manley attempted flight, he landed in icy water. After he got out, he “slammed down a shot of whiskey.”
- Heck is used twice. For example, when humans first learned to fly in hot air balloons, they had to figure out, “How the heck do we land this thing?”