Each of us has learned in school the names Wilbur and Orville Wright, inventors of the airplane. While lost in history are the names of those, who in the closing years of the 19th Century and the first years of the 20th, who shared that same passion: to develop the first powered aircraft. Some of these spent entire fortunes chasing that dream. Some spent their lives. Men like embitted Augustus Herring; who'd flown a heavier-than-air machine for several seconds in 1898, but who was thought ill of in scientific circles of the time, and who was not above sabotaging those who mocked him. And the pompous Samuel Langly of the Smithsonian Institute; backed by the US War Department, believed to be the man-most-likely to achieve a viable flying machine. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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May 16, 2003
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Excerpt from Dawn Over Kitty Hawk by Walter J. Boyne
She'd been dead these seven years, but the image of Susan Wright still loomed large in the Bishop's consciousness. She had been a good wife: docile, obedient, and handy around the house. And she knew how to take care of her husband's needs -- she had given him pleasure in bed, decorous but spirited, able to take part in God's gift of marriage with a good will and even sometimes with a laugh. She'd delivered seven children and five had survived; he still regretted the loss of the twins and celebrated their birthday every year, just as he did for the other children.
Even at seventy, Milton Wright still had urges, and it was more than a decade since he had possessed Susan. She had been so vital in her youth, so strong, able to work hard all day and still welcome him at night. Sometimes when she was feeling reckless and he was tired, she would seek him out, boldly reaching for him beneath the nightshirt. He never knew how to feel about that, didn't know till this day. He always liked it at the time, but afterward would feel guilty for her. She, however, never seemed to feel guilty. Even later, when the consumption had her, she would sport with him on occasion. But the long years of illness wore her down -- him too, when he was home, which was not often. The church took him away for weeks at a time, sometimes preaching, sometimes fighting to keep the doctrine pure and legal, free of the growing Masonic influence.
Susan had been an invalid for the last part of her life, and the children at home, Wilbur, Orville, and Katharine, had rallied around to take care of her. He was happy that they were such good children, so much alike in their ways that they might have been just one person. He thought about that for a minute -- three people with just one personality. Was that a spiritual quality, sort of like there being three Spirits in the Lord Now the question troubled him -- maybe it was blasphemous to even think like that; they sure didn't show any spiritual qualities. He'd pray on it.
Milton moved around the Sunday parlor, glancing in the mirror over the dark walnut fireplace mantel. The fireplace was built of good wood he had selected and Susan had sanded and stained. Then she had polished it every week all those years so that the grain still gleamed. It was solid like he was solid; both could stand the knocks of time. He passed his hands over his gray-white hair, thinner now, and smoothed the beard that a parishioner had once called "Lincolnesque." He paused as he always did to gaze at the framed photographs of his family, all standing in perfectly straight lines on the mantel. No picture of the twins, of course, they were taken away too soon, but pictures of all the survivors, and of Susan and him. It gave him pleasure to look at the photographs, to see the meld of him and Susan in them, in their eyes, their brows, their noses. Fine-looking children, not handsome nor pretty, but honest looking. Not pious, either, no good Lord, not pious, he'd done something wrong there for sure.