Unlocking the Sky: Glenn Hammond Curtiss and the Race to Invent the Airplane

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9780060956158: Unlocking the Sky: Glenn Hammond Curtiss and the Race to Invent the Airplane

Unlocking the Sky tells the extraordinary tale of the race to design, refine, and manufacture a manned flying machine, a race that took place in the air, on the ground, and in the courtrooms of America. While the Wright brothers threw a veil of secrecy over their flying machine, Glenn Hammond Curtiss -- perhaps the greatest aviator and aeronautical inventor of all time -- freely exchanged information with engineers in America and abroad, resulting in his famous airplane, the June Bug, which made the first ever public flight in America. Fiercely jealous, the Wright brothers took to the courts to keep Curtiss and his airplane out of the sky and off the market. Ultimately, however, it was Curtiss's innovations and designs, not the Wright brothers', that served as the model for the modern airplane.

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In the American imagination, Wilbur and Orville Wright are "earnest, young bicycle builders who attacked an age-old technological problem with fresh, ingenious thinking and dedication." There is plenty of truth to this, writes Seth Shulman, but it also obscures an important fact: The first flyers were so secretive and desperate to cash in on their invention that their behavior actually "retarded" the development of aviation. One of their most brutish acts involved a punishing legal fight with Glenn Hammond Curtiss, the inventor of the aileron (wing flaps that stabilize an aircraft in flight), retractable landing gear, pontoons, and much else. Unlocking the Sky suggests that Curtiss deserves at least near-equal billing with the brothers from Dayton. He performed the first public flight in the United States, sold the first commercial airplane, and piloted the first flight from one American city to another. "Curtiss surely belongs in the pantheon of America's greatest entrepreneurial inventors," writes Shulman. Yet he's virtually forgotten today, except by aficionados of aviation history. He comes across as a pioneering hero on these pages--and the Wright brothers as thuggish would-be monopolizers. This may be revisionist history, but it's a history that perhaps could stand revising. --John J. Miller

About the Author:

Seth Shulman has worked for two decades as a writer and editor specializing in issues of science, technology, and the environment. His work has appeared in Nature, Discover, Smithsonian, Rolling Stone, Technology Review, and the Atlantic Monthly, among many other publications. He is the author of three books, most recently Owning the Future. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Unlocking the Sky tells the extraordinary tale of the race to design, refine, and manufacture a manned flying machine, a race that took place in the air, on the ground, and in the courtrooms of America. While the Wright brothers threw a veil of secrecy over their flying machine, Glenn Hammond Curtiss -- perhaps the greatest aviator and aeronautical inventor of all time -- freely exchanged information with engineers in America and abroad, resulting in his famous airplane, the June Bug, which made the first ever public flight in America. Fiercely jealous, the Wright brothers took to the courts to keep Curtiss and his airplane out of the sky and off the market. Ultimately, however, it was Curtiss s innovations and designs, not the Wright brothers , that served as the model for the modern airplane. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060956158

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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Unlocking the Sky tells the extraordinary tale of the race to design, refine, and manufacture a manned flying machine, a race that took place in the air, on the ground, and in the courtrooms of America. While the Wright brothers threw a veil of secrecy over their flying machine, Glenn Hammond Curtiss -- perhaps the greatest aviator and aeronautical inventor of all time -- freely exchanged information with engineers in America and abroad, resulting in his famous airplane, the June Bug, which made the first ever public flight in America. Fiercely jealous, the Wright brothers took to the courts to keep Curtiss and his airplane out of the sky and off the market. Ultimately, however, it was Curtiss s innovations and designs, not the Wright brothers , that served as the model for the modern airplane. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060956158

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