Race to the Sky: The Wright Brothers Versus the United States Government

Front Cover
McFarland, Jan 1, 2003 - History - 222 pages
Everyone knows that the Wright brothers were the first to fly, but few people know that they were engaged in a David and Goliath struggle with their own Federal Government. President McKinley's administration decided to dedicate an unprecedented amount of money and to tap such men as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Samuel P. Langley to make sure that the first flyers would be American. The Wright brothers refused financial support from the government for fear of the strings that might be attached to it, and resolved to go it alone.
This book tells the story of the struggle between the Wright brothers and the Federal Government, and the raw ambition, high ideals, greed, and cloak and dagger tactics of each side. By 1903, the Federal venture was in its seventh year and the Wright brothers had been working nights and weekends often in secret for four years, but everything came to a head in eight tense days in December when the battle--and the fame and fortune that would follow--was decided and the Wright brothers emerged victorious.
 

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Contents

Acknowledgments
1
The Primal Urge
14
A Critical Mass
35
The Chanute Factor
52
No Simple Matter
76
The Clock Ticks On
89
The Invitation
110
Grudging Acceptance
145
Aircraft for Sale
159
Epilogue
177
Notes
203
Index
217
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Stephen B. Goddard teaches history at Trinity College.

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