The Wright Brothers: Pioneers of Power Flight Critical Context - Essay

Carroll V. Glines

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Author Glines was well qualified to write a book detailing the invention of the airplane. He retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1968 after having logged more than six thousand hours of flying time in some thirty-five different types of aircraft; he also served in the public affairs office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense. Glines has written numerous other books on airplanes and aviators, including a biography of flier Jimmy Doolittle.

Glines’s brief biography of the Wright brothers, with its short chapters and clean writing, is a good starting point for young readers of biography. The book should be of particular interest to beginning students of history, science, and mathematics. As the subtitle, Pioneers of Power Flight, implies, the biography emphasizes United States inventiveness and pioneer spirit. It reinforces values such as hard work, close family ties, self-sufficiency, and getting ahead. For a contrasting approach to the achievements of aviators, readers might turn to Sally Van Wagenen Keil’s collective biography Those Wonderful Women in Their Flying Machines: The Unknown Heroines of World War II (1979); she approaches her subjects from a social historian’s perspective.

The Wright Brothers deserves its place in young adult biography. Interwoven with the carefully researched information and the lessons is the story of the courage of the Wright brothers in flying their experimental aircraft as well as a depiction of their relative modesty in their success. Such stories are relevant to all readers.