The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane Critical Essays

Russell Freedman


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Freedman portrays Wilbur and Orville Wright as real people with multidimensional personalities. Each man had strengths, and each had foibles and idiosyncrasies. Wilbur was not concerned with neatness or his dress. He was the visionary of the two, able to see the “big picture” and the entire project. He was quiet and self-assured. Orville was more outgoing, described as having a bubbly personality. He had a reputation as a practical joker and a tease. Mechanical operations fascinated him; he loved taking things apart and putting them back together. Wilbur was the first who dreamed of building an airplane and flying, while Orville’s enthusiasm and dedication carried the project. Yet, each man is presented with respectful realism, and they are both shown as regular people who did not seem to be destined for great things. What the author admires about Orville and Wilbur Wright is their ability to make a dream come true through hard work and dedication.

Freedman emphasizes the partnership between the brothers and their hard work. These men were defined by their work; neither married or had outside interests. It was the challenge of manned powered flight that made their lives exciting. They tried their flight theories first on kites and then on gliders, and then they attempted powered flight. The book documents this methodical progression. The Wrights went to Kitty Hawk in 1900 to fly gliders in the first of three trips. Freedman again shows the...

(The entire section is 487 words.)