ENGLEWOOD — On a winter day in 1903 on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Wilbur and Orville Wright took flight and forever changed the world.
Last month the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill by a vote of 90-0 reaffirming the Wright Brothers as the first to fly. This was in response to a similar measure from the state of Connecticut which endorsed a claim that a Bridgeport resident named Gustave Whitehead actually flew first. Local historian, Timothy Gaffney, also refuted the claim that Whitehead flew two years before the Wright brothers. He said, “In my mind the Whitehead claim surfaces every decade or so, and every time historians look at the claim and find no convincing evidence to support it.”
As the 41st Dayton Air Show takes place on June 20 and 21, let’s take a look at some of the new books that bring us back to the Wrights and their invention of the flying machine.
The Wright Brothers: “It all began with a toy from France, a small helicopter brought home by their father,” writes author David McCullough as he probes deeper into this well-known historical tale. McCullough is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and has narrated numerous documentaries such as “The Civil War” by Ken Burns. McCullough tells the profoundly human story of these two brothers succeeding where others failed. Many thought they were “just a pair of poor nuts.” The book rights have been purchased by Tom Hanks’ production company who plan to air an HBO miniseries based on the book. The New York Times book review stated, “A story of timeless importance told with uncommon empathy and fluency…a story well told about what might be the most astonishing feat mankind has ever accomplished…‘The Wright Brothers’ soars!” By the way this book has been released just in time for Father’s Day — hint, hint.
The Dayton Flight Factory: Author Timothy Gaffney was born in Dayton and has lived in the region most of his life. He worked for various newspapers where he was the aerospace and defense writer for 21 years before his retirement in 2006. He is the author of fifteen books about aviation, space exploration and science, mainly for children and young adults. Currently, he is Director of Communications for the National Aviation Heritage Alliance and a trustee for the United States Air and Trade Show, Inc and Wright “B” Flyer, Inc.
Orville Wright exclaimed, “We propose to have the first and biggest airship factory in the country — to have it here at home!” “The Dayton Flight Factory” uses historical research and today’s aviation heritage sites to retell the story about the first American factory built to produce airplanes. A project to restore the Wright brothers’ factory is underway. The original buildings were completed in 1910. The General Motors’ Inland Division, who acquired the property, hid them from view over the decades. With the GM buildings taken down, the remaining Wright factory buildings now stand alone on bare ground. Gaffney took a plane ride over the site and said it was a magic moment for him to see the factory site the same way Orville would have seen it from the air, more than a century ago.
Dayton Air Show — A Photographic Celebration: Timothy Gaffney and photographer Ty Greenlees have come out with a new keepsake book that will enable Air Show fans to revisit more than 20 years of Ohio’s biggest aviation event. A full-color collection of 200 photographs gives an eagle-eye look at the men and women who have made aviation what it is today. Aviation journalist, Tim Gaffney, gives you a behind-the-scenes look as he traces Dayton Air Show heritage from modern times to the past. In this book, with its stunning photos, you can “take off with the magic of America’s greatest air show in a one-of-a-kind book. You won’t believe your eyes!”
June promises to be an exciting month for flight in the Dayton area with these three books being released and with two jet teams performing at the Air Show — the US Air Force Thunderbirds and the Breitling Team flying seven L39 Albatross jets in formation acrobatics up to 435 mph. This is something the Wright brothers quite possibly could never have imagined. Keep ’em flying…and happy reading, everyone!