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The Wright Brothers

February 18, 2016

I read a lot but I can’t read everything I want to and I don’t always get to a book right away.  I finally got to The Wright Brothers by David McCullough and I highly recommend it.

One of my special interests is entrepreneurship and I look for this in everything I read, although that is not why I choose to read something.  However, this book was about two extraordinary inventors who were also extraordinary entrepreneurs.

The book is also a travelogue of the Mid-Eastern Coast of the United States and Paris and has vignettes of many formidable and legendary people of early aviation and others such as Alexander Graham Bell, Edith Wharton and William Howard Taft.

First, the inventor part:  Powered manned flight is one of Humankind’s most extraordinary feats.  The author shows how this was accomplished in a page-turning story with much detail that is far from tedious to follow.  You want to know what they observed, how they thought, performed their research and worked.  They had enviable family relationships with an always encouraging sister and a father who seemed to know just how to support his children, particularly the brothers Wilbur and Orville.  Wilbur and Orville were no doubt of above average intelligence, but their work ethic with directed focus, concentration, perseverance and ability to not only not get discouraged but to eagerly grab the lessons from continuous mistakes sets them apart from most people.

While they were inventors without peer, they were also businessmen.  They made their living from various business pursuits, the most well-known being the bicycle shop.  However, their fortunes were made from making and selling airplanes.  To do so they rented premises, hired people, kept tweaking improvements, promoted their business, defended their patents and maximized their opportunities.  This is what entrepreneurs do.

They had their feet on the ground; knew their capabilities and limitations; kept their humility and knew where they came from; and accomplished something that has been imagined since the dawn of civilization.  A touching last sentence in the book tells about Neil Armstrong carrying a small swatch from the plane the Wright Brothers flew in 1903 when he stepped on the Moon in 1969.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 6hawthorne permalink
    February 18, 2016 12:21 pm


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