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   Vol. 18 No. 79
Wednesday December 18, 2019
A Kick In The Teeth At Wright Time
Wilbur and Orville Wright

      President Truman said that the only news is history you don’t know.
      Maybe the best argument for continually paying attention to history, is so that we might learn from what we missed.
      No doubt some direction as to how to set history straight is included in the opening words Thomas Jefferson chose while writing the American Declaration of Independence:
      “When in the Course of human events,” Jefferson wrote.
      Everything we do or have done connects us as humans, and is part of the history that got us where we are today.

The Wright Track

      Take the Wright Brothers as example.
      This week as we recall man’s first powered flight in an airplane by the Wright Brothers, we think, that those two brothers who changed the world were certainly in real life much more than people in some flinty black and white film and pictures.
      We mark that event 116 years ago on December 17, when the Ohio Brothers were at the beach in North Carolina with plenty of high winds and soft sands as they took off and landed in a tiny bi-plane, an event that changed the world forever.

Taking For Granted

      Today in a world as you routinely direct or load cargo onto an airplane that takes off and soars up to seven miles above the earth landing somewhere around the world within a few hours, it is good to discover news about what led up to these two guys making that first flight.

Bishop Wright Award & Path Forward

David McCullough      I was looking at a plaque hanging in my office that was presented to me at a lavish luncheon held at JFK International Airport in 2002 when I was given The Protestant Chapel at JFKIA, New York City Council of Churches Bishop Wright Award as “Man of the Year” for advocating for aviation and air cargo with our publication, Air Cargo News.
      Thinking about the Protestant cleric, who was Orville & Wilbur’s father, and for whom the award was named, being bestowed the award was a great honor for me.
      Recently Bishop Wright came into full memory and focus again when I discovered a speech that popular historian David McCullough (left) delivered at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston.
      Mr. McCullough said that he discovered some writings about Wilbur in Bishop Wright’s diary while researching for his epoch 2015 book titled “The Wright Brothers” that was published by Simon & Schuster.

Something New A Century Old

      What was revealed just a few years ago is the “news” here.
      “Wilbur was a genius,” McCullough contends.
      “Orville was also quite capable but Wilbur was the one.
      “Both had only high school educations.
      “However today their home, now a museum, remains filled with many books, including great classics of modern literature and science indicating a family of avid readers.
      “We found a diary kept by Bishop Wright.
      “It was the first time that we uncovered original material that had not already appeared in one form or another elsewhere,” the two-time Pulitzer Prize (Truman/John Adams) winner revealed.

Wilbur Gets His Teeth Knocked Out

Wilbur Wright       What the author discovered in the Bishop Wright diary is news from another time that sheds light on the true human nature of history.
      “When he was about 18 years old, Wilbur (right) was hit in the teeth with a hockey stick during a pick up game with some neighborhood friends, that knocked out all of his upper teeth,” McCullough said.
      “Aside from primitive dentistry and excruciating pain, Wilbur, a handsome young athletic young man was so disfigured, his face was hard to look at.
      “Wilbur retreated into a self-imposed isolation at home in Dayton, Ohio.
      “He gave up plans to attend Yale University, preferring to stay at home to look after his Mom who was dying of tuberculosis, and it was then he began to read in this self-imposed isolation that lasted three years.
      “The time caused a terrific swerve in his life’s direction
      “Wilbur set off on a pursuit of knowledge, writing to the Smithsonian asking for information and the rest is history.
      “This was the time that set Wilbur Wright on the path that led him to the invention of the airplane,” Mr. McCullough said.
      “The question is who hit Wilbur in the teeth and was it intentional?”, David McCullough wondered.
      “In Bishop Wright’s diary there is an entry post Wilbur’s death, after he died tragically in 1912 at age 40 of typhoid fever.
      “He writes to explain who the boy was that hit Wilbur and later what happened to him.
      “His name was Oliver Haugh,” Mr. McCullough explains, “a boy who lived right around the corner from the Wrights in the same neighborhood.”

Ultimate Expression of Evil

      “Haugh later became the most notorious murderer in the State of Ohio.
      “He killed his father, his mother, his brother and an estimated 12 others or more.
      “Isn’t is fascinating,” David McCullough marvels, “that one of the geniuses in our story of the history of flight grew up in the same neighborhood with the ultimate expression of evil?
      “Haugh was executed in 1906 but we still don’t know if he hit Wilbur on purpose but maybe someday we might find out,” McCullough said.
      “The point here is that throughout history there is no mention anywhere of this crucial turning point.
      “What a thrill it is to have discovered this diary entry,” David McCullough concluded.

A Postscript

      History is just past the moment and always alive, with more to be learned because in some way or another we learn the way forward, seems to be the message here.

Orville Carried Legacy Forward

      As time moved on, brother Orville Wright who was a personal friend of Paul Garber at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., loaned that first Kitty Hawk airplane to the museum in thanks for the information and support that helped get the first flight off the ground.
      How The Smithsonian, as Paul Garber told me in 1987, also received Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” placing both aircraft above glass cases filled with airplane models and then attracting three million visitors a year, led to creation of The National Air & Space Museum, is another story.
      Sharing a great discovery is always welcome news.
      “The Wright Brothers” is available on Amazon.

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Vol 18 No. 78
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