Only seventeen years elapsed between the Wright brothers' experiments in 1903 and the arrival of the 1920s, yet the airline industry was second only to auto manufacturing in public interest. The industry consisted of a motley collection of poorly financed and, for the most part, poorly managed companies, each firm turning out a few aircraft per month. The entrepreneurs were an eclectic group: Air Corps veterans, barnstormers, a few speculators, a handful of businessmen who simply had some extra money to invest, and the relatively small number of businessmen who had somehow acquired an interest in the flying machine as well as investment funds. Many of the early figures were like the Wrights—small-town mechanics, men experienced in building bicycles—or they were pioneers in the auto industry and others who had no idea of the science of aeronautics.
The Military and the Aircraft Industry.
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