|One of aviation's most widely reproduced photographs.
Orville Wright lying prone on the lower wing, makes the world's first successful, controlled powered flight at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, 17 December 1903. The figure on the right is Wilbur.
|A farmer looks up at the Flyer on a
1909 flight from Pau in southern France. The previous year the aeroplane
had flown for 2 hours 20 minutes.
|The Wright family. From left: Wilbur, sister Katharine,
mother Susan, brother Lorin, father Bishop Milton Wright, brother
|7 Hawthorn Street, the Wright Brothers' Dayton, Ohio
|Wilbur (left) and Orville Wright at the height of their celebrity
|[Wright Brothers biographies]
The Remarkable Story of
the Aviation Pioneers who Changed the World
here to buy
Little, Brown (Time Warner Books) UK, London: November 2003
ISBN: 0 316 861448
The conquest of the air at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on 17 December
1903, was one of the supreme achievements of the 20th Century. Two unknown
American bicycle mechanics, Wilbur and Orville Wright, launched that day
the first successful powered aeroplane, changing the world for ever.
On the centennial of the historic first flights Ian Mackersey produced
a revealing new study of the lives of these eccentric geniuses. Wilbur
and Orville were brothers who never smoked, drank or had a vestige of
interest in women, but whose exceptionally close relationship bound them
into one uniquely inventive power. Their brilliance unlocked the secrets
of mechanical flight to realise one of mans oldest dreams. But it
would be five years before they lifted the veil of secrecy with which
they untrustingly cloaked their revolutionary machine.
Ian Mackersey brings to life a Midwest family swept up in the fame, jealousies
and law suits that exploded around these famous brothers: the extreme
measures they took to conceal the details of their invention which
led to failure to sell their magnificent machine to the world; the domineering
figure of their father, Bishop Milton Wright, whose United Brethren Church
wars raged distractingly alongside the process of invention; their feisty
adoring sister, Katharine, whose marriage late in life led Orville never
to speak to her again; the miseries of the public adulation and bitter
legal battles that brought Wilbur to the verge of collapse. Drama and
tragedy never ceased to punctuate their lives.
The result of four years new research, this rare Wright Brothers biography
from a British author, explains accessibly the aerodynamic breakthrough
that had defeated inventive minds for centuries. And from a trove of previously
unpublished Wright family correspondence Ian Mackersey throws new light
on tragic events that cast a dark cloud over the last twenty years of
An American film producer has acquired the feature movie and TV drama rights to the book.
What the critics said
of the Wright Brothers biography:
Sunday Telegraph (London): Many aviation historians can
be classified as anoraks. Ian Mackersey is in a different league
. . . He explains the science with such clarity that even your reviewer
could understand it. This is a wonderful human story.
Guardian (London): His biography turns their heady
science into a gripping intellectual thriller, and recounts a family
saga on a par with the Magnificent Ambersons . . .
Independent (London): Mackersey, an excellent writer
as well as a keen flyer, handles his subject with the assurance
of long familiarity, painlessly easing the tyro into basic aerodynamics
and the history of early flight . . . reads like a particularly
Financial Times (London): Its hard to imagine
who wouldnt find it absorbing to read.
Fred Howard (author of the major 1987 biography, Wilbur and
Orville ): What a feast of words! Ive spent
53 years immersed in the brothers story. In that time it has
acquired a fixed, familiar surface. Your fresh look at it has blown
the whole thing wide open. It will never be the same again.
Birmingham Post: . . . a gifted storyteller, his biography
keeps you on the edge of your seat, searching in vain for the seat-belt
that the daring Wright Brothers never bothered with when they first
conquered the skies.
York Evening Press: Mackerseys authoritative
style and penchant for research breaks through the myth surrounding
the brothers. This is the definitive book on the Wright Brothers
and the birth of powered flight.
History Today: 'Mackersey constructs a narrative of
considerable dramatic power.'
Aeroplane Monthly: A carefully compiled and well assembled
work . . . meaty value for money.'
Oxford Times: 'Mackersey has reached for the sky in
his prose to match the epic, offering as exciting a story as we
are ever likely to get on those early years of flight.'