William Hazelgrove on Wright Brothers, Wrong Story

Thecuriousmanspodcast | 19 March 2019 | 1h 03m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with William Hazelgrove about his book Wright Brothers, Wrong Story: How Wilbur Wright Solved the Problem of Manned Flight. Discusses the evidence from archival material that it was Wilbur, rather than Orville and Wilbur, that was the mastermind behind the first powered flight.

2 thoughts on “William Hazelgrove on Wright Brothers, Wrong Story

  1. William,
    Commentary on Wright Brothers, Wrong Story, Hazelgrove

    Biographies of Wright brother’s accomplishments and patent wars create a lopsided view of aircraft development:
    To his credit, Wilbur did a brilliant job of taking existing data on flight from past work of Lilenthal, and refining and testing each element of flight, lift, control and power. However, to give full credit to him and his patent claims on flight, and little to none on the contribution of others was wrong and in fact was a great detriment to further development of the aircraft. Lilenthal’s tests with flxed wing gliders and documented data, and information from the Smithsonian were the foundation for Wrights work; without it and the consultation and mentoring dialog with Chenault, Wilbur would not have progressed as he did. Technology in all fields evolves as a progression from prior work, and continues as others, such as Glen Curtis did with contributions which were stymied by Wrights ongoing patent suits. Curtis took Wrights work and improved it, as in the invention of the aileron which was is used today in all aircraft, not wing warping. Wrights mechanic designed and built the power plant that enabled the powered flight not Wilbur. Curtis took the development of lightweight engines far beyond the Wright engine capability, a key technology in flight. Its disingenuous to all for historians and authors, such as Hazelgrove to focus credit for powered flight to Wright and his patents alone. The covetous litigation that the Wrights imposed on aircraft pioneers takes credit for their work to a low point in aircraft development.
    A lesson that we should all consider.

    Gary Vollinger,

    1. I’m sympathetic to your points. Matt Ridley in “The Evolution of Everything” has a lot to say about the autocatalytic nature of innovation – how it builds on what has gone before – and how often multiple people make the same invention, because the time has become right for it, once the key ingredients are available.

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