“It takes only nineteen seconds to walk the distance of the first powered flight. But when I was there the wind was up and cold on my face, and I felt as if I’d entered the black-and-white photograph I’d been seeing all my life. The sand is light gray, there’s a spill of surf in the distance. Wilbur, running at the right of the plane, and Orville, the pilot, are in dark suits. The propellers blur against the sky as the machine rises…”
So begins Noah Adams’s adventure in search of Wilbur and Orville Wright, a journey that takes him across the country as he follows in the footsteps of the famous brothers in an attempt to know them more deeply, not just as inventors and pilots but as individuals as well.
To understand the aerodynamics of lift and drag and how the famous 1903 plane was constructed, he visits Ken Hyde, a Virginia pilot and vintage aircraft builder who is creating the world’s most accurate reproduction of the 1903 Wright Flyer. Adams goes to the prop shop and handles the tools and materials that the Wrights used to build their gliders and planes, and later he visits the wind tunnel at Langley Air Force Base where Hyde’s reproduction was tested for the first time.
In Adams’s book we encounter the Wright brothers in a way that no writer has introduced them before. Through the lens of his own experiences as well as original reporting, letters, diaries, and other primary source material, he helps us understand the talent and intensity of the brothers and their family, including the fascinating, deeply complex, and at times tragic bond between Orville and Katharine, his younger sister.
The Flyers is a wonderfully rich narrative that brings an unprecedented spirit of immediacy to one of history’s most dramatic stories. Download and start listening now!