Airplane: Rewriting Aviation History | 3


It's December eighth and just south of Washington. DC? The weather is terrible. On a large house boat in the middle of the Potomac river. A crew of engineers is putting the final touches on an extraordinary new machine for the last five years. The US war department has been secretly funding. The construction of a full-scale flying craft they've called her the aero Drome and today, they'll see if she can fly. There are just two problems one. It's nineteen three. No one has ever successfully flown in airplane and to they'll only get one shot at it as the boat rolls and sways in the choppy water, the project director, Samuel Pierpont Langley. Paces nervously across the deck at sixty nine years old Langley is among the most eminent scientists in the world. He's published hundreds of scholarly papers. He holds honorary degrees from six universities, and as the director of the Smithsonian Institution. He's advised to US presidents on scientific matters. But Langley's belief in flight has made him something of a heretic in the scientific community some of his colleagues stopped returning his letters others have publicly challenged his papers Langley, still commands much respect as the head of the Smithsonian. But behind his back, many are whispering. There's the man who wasted his good name trying to fight the law of gravity today. After five years of preparation Langley will finally have the chance to prove them all wrong. He'll restore his reputation and cement his place in history as the first man to build a functional airplane that is assuming everything goes according to plan, but why wouldn't it Langley's Bill hundreds of unmanned fine machines over the years and most of them flew successfully one made it nearly three quarters of a mile. This may be is I attempted Amanda craft, but Langley's planning has been meticulous. And he's. Repaired for almost every contingency. The only part of today's test flight that worries him is actually getting the plane in the air for this Langley's designed custom catapult spring loaded to shoot the arrow Drome into the sky. But so far he hasn't gotten it to work earlier in the fall, the catapult launched the plane and the pilot directly into the water. It's four thirty PM. And the winter sky is beginning to darken Langley. Looks up at the roof of the houseboat where the workers are slotting two sets of massive silt covered wings into the aerodromes frame. How's it coming up there? His chief engineer a young man named Charles manly joins him on the deck. The workers are almost done. Langley, smiles warmly and hands compass. It's charmingly optimistic. Gesture Manley will be the pilot for today's test. And then compass will help them keep his bearings. In the event. The aerodrome carries them out of sight. You know, Charles, we only get one shot at this and the conditions are less than ideal postponed again, but we're already so far behind schedule. I suppose it's now or never then crew captain shouts down to the deck all set. Manley turns to Langley and shakes his hand. See you on the other side of history. Professor. The young engineer pulls himself up the railings to the Ruth in quick succession. He opens the aerodromes throttle cranks. The propeller. And takes his place on the small wooden plank that serves as the cockpit with one last night down to Langley. He raises his hand and signals to the crew whole the catapults trigger. Manley survives the crash, but Langley's career like the aero Drome itself is instantly ruined the next morning. The press response is savage. They dubbed the event Langley's folly and wax poetic Langley's presumptuousness for even attempting such a feat as one New York Times that to'real puts it human flight is so far out of reach. It would take mathematicians and mechanics one to ten million years to build the machine that could accomplish it. But that's not exactly right. The rate brothers would fly their plane over Kitty Hawk only nine days later. When Langley returned to his work at the Smithsonian. He was disappointed and demoralized using his own personal funds. He carefully boxed up two pieces of the aerodrome and place them in storage. Certain that someday the parts would attest to what they really represent an engineering accomplishment and this time history would prove him, right? Support for American innovations comes from Capital, One with the spark cashcard from Capital One. You earn unlimited two percent cashback on all of your business purchases. Think about it unlimited. Two percent cashback on everything you buy for your business that cashback can add up to thousands of dollars which you can reinvest back into your business. So you can keep growing. Imagine. What unlimited two percent cashback could do for your business. Learn more at Capital One dot com. What's in your wallet? From wondering this is American innovations. I'm Steven Johnson a decade after Langley's failed flight on the Potomac the youthful aviation industry was in trouble. The Wright brothers were leveraging their wing warping patent to monopolize the entire aviation industry and ground their competitors. And no one was hit harder than Glenn Curtiss in one thousand nine hundred nine the Wright brothers slapped Curtis with a patent infringement lawsuit so severe it. Pushed him to the brink of bankruptcy to break the suit Curtis tried everything he could think of you tried demonstrating that he didn't use the rights technology. You try showing that the rights weren't the first to invent wing warping? None of it made a difference in nineteen thirteen. Judge Hazel upheld the Wright's patent and ruled against Curtis. The Wright brothers had been the first to build a fine machine. And as far as judge Hazel was concerned. That alone deserve the broadest possible interpretation of their patent Curtis was more or less out of options. But then in early nineteen fourteen when Curtis had all, but given up hope he was presented with a new course of action came in the form of a question. He hadn't even thought to ask. What if the right brothers hadn't invented the first plane that could fly what if that honor actually belonged to Langley this is rewriting aviation history. The third and final episode and our series. It's may sixth nineteen thirteen and in Washington DC, an extravagant affair is in full swing. The Smithsonian is just bestowed Glenn Curtiss with the nation's highest aviation award. The so-called Langley medal named for the institute's late director now that the speeches and formalities are over Curtis's old mentor. Alexander Graham, Bell is hosting the reception. A string quartet plays in the parlour waiters glide between diplomats and socialites carrying silver platters of orders. But despite the festivities, the current director of the Smithsonian. Charles Wolcott, sitting alone staring out a window with a faraway looking. His is bell approaches with a bottle more bubbly Charles. You look a little too pensive for party Wolcott holds out his glass and Bill pores. It's ironic. Isn't it nobody ever celebrated Langley's work like this not while he was alive? Anyway. Seeing Mr. Curtis onstage today accepting his award. Couldn't stop thinking about Langley's last words. What were they are? You sure you wanna know they're heartbreaking. We raid his office. And he placed a small rough object to my hand. And he told me in the saddest voice I ever heard because of this little thing. My life's work is a failure. You can probably guess what? It was a piece of the rear guidepost at a jammed the aerodromes launching mechanism. I tried to comfort him. But what can I say, we both knew the truth the arrow Drome had ruined his career, and it hadn't even gotten a proper chance to fly bell listens attentively. So what happened to that piece? But the piece from the launching mechanism. Oh, I imagine. It's back in the Smithsonian's carpentry shop somewhere with the rest of the aerodrome Langley put every single piece of it in storage from across the room bell watches as Kerr. Curtis. The man of the hour, smiles awkwardly and shakes hands with the party coders bell turns back to Wolcott is it ever occurred to you that we could restore Langley's reputation. If we were to successfully redo the flight that ruined it you already have the machine for at least, it's parts. We don't have the facilities to rebuild it. Or the talent. Frankly, bell looks back at Curtis and Wolcott follows his gaze now. But we both know a man who does. If all had asked Curtis to helm, the restoration of Langley's era drum that night in nineteen thirteen. It's unclear if Curtis would have said, yes. But by the time Wolcott, formerly brought the idea to Curtis in early nineteen fourteen Curtis saw that he had as much to gain from the restoration as the Smithsonian did the month before Curtis had received devastating news. The federal appeals court had finished his review of the rape versus Curtis case. And to the shock of nearly everyone in the industry the court had once again sided with the rights deciding that Curtis's ailerons were too similar to the rights own stabilizing technology working alongside the most famous patent lawyer of the day Benton, crisp Curtis found a temporary work around that would keep his business solvent for the time. Being Chris had found a loophole in the Wright brothers, Pat that other lawyers had missed. The patent specified that a plane's wings needed to be operated simultaneously to achieve lateral stability for Curtis. Disdain business. He just needed to redesign his ill. Ron's. So they could operate independently. It wasn't a legal defense so much is stalling strategy, and it did little to change the facts on the ground after five years battling the rights in court and losing them Curtis's range of options had dwindled to three each of them worse than the last. He could relocate his company to a country that didn't recognize the rights patent claims. He could face such a crippling amount of back royalties. That is company would go bankrupt. Or he could close down shop completely. The Smithsonian's proposal offered a Fourth Way forward if Curtiss could restore Langley's plane and prove it capable of flying. He could chip away at the claim that the Wright brothers built the very first working airplane undermining their claim would be stabilized. They're patent and by extension their entire monopoly and the spring of nineteen fourteen Curtis. Didn't yet know if Langley's ERO Drome could fly he didn't know what condition it was in. He didn't know what it would take to rebuild it. But for the sake of his company, he knew he had to try. It's April nineteen fourteen at the Curtiss aeroplane company in Hammond sport, a crew of delivery men are stacking wooden crates one by one in the center of the courtyard creates arrive here almost every day. But today's delivery sent from Washington DC feels different. It's eerily silent most workers have set their tools down to watch the delivery. But they keep their distance is if the crates contained religious artifacts not airplane parts. Nobody says it, but everyone knows the fate of their company depends on what's inside finally Curtis and the shop. Former Henry clicker make their way toward the courtyard center as a worker's let them through the mood begins to shift from all and fear to something closer to excitement Curtis vase the crates then turns to his foreman Henry. You want to do the honors? Yes. But I need a hammer. Does anyone have a hammer a worker sprints forward deliver one to Curtis Curtis hands? It pick clicker just so everyone knows Henry will be my right hand man for the duration of this project. Critics doesn't need to explain why if anyone can fix the aero Drome the workers know it will be clicker over the past decade. He's proven himself to be a man of limited vocabulary. But infinite resourcefulness, no matter how badly broken apart is you can hand it to clicker and expect the same response he'll grin and pronounce his Dutch accented English, I fix and he always does. Now, everyone watches collectors broad confident face is he prize off the crates big wooden top with the back of the hammer. He looks inside then begin slowly pulling out pieces of tangled metal his expression becomes more inscrutable as unspools along rotten chief silk next he pulls out several pieces of wood and lays down on the factory floor beside the silk. He crouches over its findings and shuffles them around like bones at an archaeological. Gig until they start to form the shape the workers, recognize the arrow drums broken wings. All forty eight feet of Curtis is the first to break the silence. Well, Henry can you fix them? The line gets a laugh from the factory workers. But clicker doesn't answer for the first time that Curtis can recall clicker looks on easy Curtis puts a reassuring hand on his form shoulder. Henry, you know, we don't have to make all the original parts fly. We're allowed to rebuild them. Clicker remained silent. It's not until Curtis bins down to examine the parts himself that he sees why? At first glance. It's clear that the crates contents are torn broken, but declared her in Curtis's well trained is that isn't the real problem? Each part is also shockingly expensive the wings wooden ribs have been painstakingly hollowed out to make them as light as possible and the forty eight foot wings are covered inexpensive silk, not the industry's to fault canvas. Muslim clicker locks is Curtis. And they both know what the others thinking. What exactly have we gotten ourselves into restoring Langley's aerodrome was supposed to save the company from bankruptcy? Instead, it might end up bleeding them dry Kurdistan's backup tries to rally. Don't you worry? Everyone will make it work soon enough you'll see her flying. But everyone including Curtis knows. It's more of a wish than a promise. Thanks to the art of shaving for sponsoring American innovations view been listening to our show for a while. You've probably noticed that life in the past could be pretty rough. Hence, our constant need for innovation shaving is no exception in the art of shaving is here to make sure that you enjoy close comfortable shave today and every day the art of shavings dedication, to using high quality essential oils in botanical ingredients in their award. Award-winning products has now evolved into a collection that will help with all your grooming needs from head to toe. Now is your chance to see what the four elements of the perfect shave really feel like listeners of American innovations are invited to get fifteen percent off their first order by using the promo code AI at checkout online or at any the art of shaving stores again that's code AI to get fifteen percent off your first order and start enjoying your shave again. It's a crisp spring morning in nineteen fourteen. The couple of days after Langley's arrow Drome arrived in Hammond sport, New York, Glenn Curtiss is sitting down for breakfast with professor Albert Zam the Smithsonian's liaison for the restoration project. They make a funny pair Zam, whereas a carefully pressed suit straw boater. Hat Curtis sits across from him in wrinkled oil splattered button-down. This leaves rolled up under the table Curtis. Tries to keep his leg from bouncing creating the aerodrome left Curtis with several pressing questions at the top of the list. How on earth will Curtis be able to build the arrow Drome on the Smithsonian's limited budget. I have to admit professor. We were surprised by waiter. Waiter. Do you have any more biscuits? I mean to say we didn't expect the parts to be so expensive. And also, we need more coffee. Just just mine. Thank you budget. You proposed won't be renamed to please. So you received our delivery. Yes. And and I don't understand how Dr Langley built the aerodrome on the budget. You're proposing. Simple. He didn't the US war department pumped tens of thousands in the Langley's project. They wanted a secret weapon for reconnaissance. So how do we restore it to its original condition without the US war department? Also simple. We don't Curtis is temporarily stunned into silence Sam continues talking. I know invested everyone is in this project. I know how much it means to the Smithsonian, but the budget just isn't there? We can't set out to make the aerodrome as good as new the best. We can aim for is. Well, new enough. Are you suggesting we make substitutions use cheaper materials, but that will change how the machine flies. I know it will. But what's the real goal here to finally prove that Langley's aerodrome can fly and just as importantly to conduct our restoration in such a way that no one can doubt our results. So the absolute worst thing we could do is to make the aerodrome better than it once and by the same logic. The best thing we could do is make the aerodrome worse. If we weigh it down with canvas instead of silk or solid spruce instead of hollowed out, hardwood, and it still flies. Well, then we'll prove beyond a shadow of doubt that it could have flown back in nineteen. Oh three and no one could ever say, we cheat. It. On this point Zam could not be more wrong without morning over breakfast Curtis. Reluctantly concedes the point Sam briskly moves onto the next items on this agenda. Have you Mr. clicker finished your examination of the engine? We have it's a thing of beauty fifty two horsepower rotary designed water cooled completely had of its time. But but what it's waterlogged rust? We can only get it to hit two thirds of its original horsepower. I just don't think we can call it Langley's aerodrome without the original engine. So somehow two-thirds we'll have to work, and what about the issue of the catapult? I've been thinking about that as you know, the original was badly broken. But we have all of Wang these notes we could rebuild it from scratch unless you'd like to propose a different line of attack. I would my line of attack is anything, but the catapult. We still don't know if Langley's aerodrome can fly, let's not rebuild the one thing. We know that can make it crash. One by one the two men address the conditions of each item in the Smithsonian's crates each piece required the same difficult decisions should Curtis fix it. Replace it try to use it as it's every answer would inevitably create a new problem like a high stakes game of pick up sticks. Each move. No matter how well thought out threaten to topple the structure around it by choosing to forgo the catapult Curtis would need to find another way to launch the arrow dro- a water launch made the most sense, but pond tunes would add hundreds of pounds in require additional bracing the choice to keep the original engine would be equally challenging Langley's notes stipulated that the propellers had to turn nine hundred fifty revolutions per minute. The original motor was far too damaged to generate that much power to compensate Curtis would have to trim the original propeller blades. So. Could spin faster but day by day Curtis. Zam managed to find their way forward, balancing, the three. Sometimes contradictory priorities cost Stoorikhel fidelity and safety. By the time. The restored era Drome was ready for its tesla. They were confident that they'd stayed as faithful as possible to the originals design given their many constraints, but not everyone would share in that assessment. In Dayton, Ohio Orville Wright was following the restoration project with much less sympathetic. I. Orrville had always been the more caustic of the Wright brothers. But after Wilbur died in nineteen twelve Orville had grown, downright hostile. It's February twenty seven nineteen fourteen Orville Wright is sitting straight back in his chair across from him. A reporter from the New York Times is looking very confused, the reporter leans in. I think I may have misunderstood you. Are you suggesting the lawsuit with Glenn Curtiss killed your brother? Yes. I laid it out quite clearly Mr. Curtis's patent infringement and the necessary lawsuit that followed pushed Wilbur into a state of chronic nervousness and then into a physical fatigue which made them easy prey for typhoid fever. If not for Mr. Curtis theft. I believe my brother Wilbert would still be alive today. That's I didn't accusation. It's not an accusation. It's an opinion based on verifiable facts Orville saw the recent. Appeals court verdict in his favor, not just as a validation of his broad patent. But as vindication of his view that Curtis was guilty of stealing his technology and causing his brother's death. But if ova was angry with Curtis before the restoration. He was apoplectic. Once he got word of the plan to rebuild Langley's era. Drome the restoration quickly became an obsession for Orville and its sister, Catherine friends who visited the right household during this period reported that they talked about little else an expected visitors to take sides without any hesitation, Catherine. I thought I'd stop by just heading to my mother's. How are you? How's Orrville as well? As can be expected, given the vile news Vert about this myth Sonian collusion with Mr. Curtis to rewrite history. I I have. But if you don't mind me asking, you're not the least bit curious to see what happens when Langley's folly gets a second chance. I have. No interest in whether a fake can fly. If they wanted to partial restoration. I promise you they wouldn't have put Mr. Curtis in charge. But only two men in the country could take on a restoration of this size. Mr. Curtis and your brother and your brothers conflict of interest would be even greater than I'm sorry holding. But I'm not feeling. Well, sudden it's best you leave. Now. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset. You goodbye. Mr. Richardson and don't call again. I don't think it'll be feeling well for some time. Even the chief engineer of the right company noticed the shift in mood that the rights household as he would later write in his memoir. The arrow drum restoration was preying on the minds and characters of both Orville and Katharine the obsession quickly evolved from leaving room gossip to real world action soon after the restoration began or vote would even send his older, brother. Lauren to him and sport to spy on Curtis's factory. And search for evidence Curtis was making secret upgrades to the era drum Lauren checked into a hotel nearby town of Baff under the pseudonym of w L Orhan to evade detection, the next day armed with a camera and Benach yours. He began exploring hangers Curtis's factor. Unsurprisingly a worker quickly spotted him and demanded he either handover some identification. More the film from his camera. Lauren wisely. Ended over the film and retreated to his hotel in bath. Where he wired news of his mission's failure to Orval. I was afraid to send a telegraph from Hammet sport in case. It might be intercepted. Meanwhile, reporters from across the country were wandering those same hangers in droves Curtis had opened his factory to the press from the start of the restoration process precisely to avoid any charges of secrecy. At one point. There were literally enough journalist to field a baseball team. And they took advantage of that fact by organizing a game against Curtis's workers much to the chagrin of the workers, the journalists one Curtis took pains to explain each modification to the press and walked them through the Smithsonian's updated to phase restoration plan. I understand supervision Curtis's team plan to restore the arrow drum to it's a regional condition as best as it could to finally settle the question of whether Langley's craft was airworthy. The second phase would include more significant changes, including swapping out the damage motor for brand new one the goal of this phase would be detest. The air dynamics of Langley's unique tandem wing. Zayn back in Dayton, though. Orval remained furious about the entire project desperate for more information. He hatched another plan this time involving a man named Griffith. Brewer brewer had worked for the right company in Great Britain. And now he was staying in Dayton researching a book on the early years of aviation. One night over dinner Orville makes an interesting suggestion. Mr. brewer, I'm thrilled that you think there's room for yet. Another book about the early days of flying. I'm sure Americans know your story, quite well. But in England that certainly interested at least one more recounting, but how many more readers, do you think you'd get? If you hit upon a fresh new aviation story in this day and age is that even possible, perhaps if you were to turn your attention away from the history of aviation and towards present day attempts to falsify that history. Brewer was intrigued with the help of a colleague he rustled up a false set of press credentials and boarded the train from Dayton to Hammond sport to investigate further once they're brewer turned out to be a much better spy than Lauren rate had been. Created an itemized list of every change Curtis's team was making the aero drum. And that list was long in brewers opinion. Curtis wasn't restoring the aerodrome. He was flat out redesigning. It would many of the changes brewer pointed to as evidence for his claims were actually part of the restorations second-phase which called for aggressive upgrades. Still. The battle lines have been drawn over the summer of nineteen fourteen Curtis and his team geared up for their test-flight. Brewer began drafting a letter to the New York Times about his findings now not one but three questions loomed over the restoration head Langley's original era. Drome been airworthy would restored version with its heavier materials be capable of flying. And if Curtis and his team did manage to get it in the air. Would anyone believe their results? American innovations is brought to you by wicks dot com. The prospect of building a website can be overwhelming you feel like you need all those skills. You don't have coding design SEO the list goes on. That's how I felt. 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And the playlists all you have to do is unwind and enjoy visit came in Jack's how to Cinco guide at Cinco dot Cayman. Jack dot com. Please drink responsibly premium beverage American vintage beverage corporation, Chicago, Illinois. It's early morning on may twenty eight nineteen fourteen a dozen men enrolled up shirtsleeves and knee high rubber boots carry the gangly aero Drome into lake Cuba, gently they set it down on its pontoons over the years lake. Cuba has been the site of so many fun memories and triumphs seven years ago. Critics was standing in this very spot when the tested the red wing and saw an airplane. Fly for the very first time three years later. Curtis used league, Cuba to practice landing Albany flyer. The first plane to ever fly from one American city to another today. He's testing plane that could claim an even greater I the first plane to be truly capable of flight reporters edged the lake ready with questions. Mr. Curtis is is this really an exact replica of the era drum. Well, with the help of professors, m here, I can tell you that we have made us as few changes to Langley's original design as possible, and none that enhance its ability to fly if the aerodrome does fly, do you think the right company will lose fatten only the courts can decide that. But the rights patent is based on them being the very first to build an airplane. If they weren't actually the I think we all have the right to know that Mr. cardis are you confident you'll succeed today. I honestly have no idea. I will say that. I'm certainly hoping to have better luck than Dr Langley did. And with that closing line Curtis Wade's over to Langley's era. Unlike most of Curtis's past demonstration flights. This one is silent the reporters and onlookers don't say a word their time traveling to nineteen three and no one wants to break the spell Curtis. Retraces? The original pilots every step. He opens the aerodromes. Throttle cranks propeller and pulls himself aboard the ear. The arrow Drome against skim across the water, and then headed into the wind rises gracefully for one hundred and fifty feet before gently touching back down on lake Cuba. The next day's headlines were raptures, nothing like the headlines Langley endured in nineteen three around the world. Reporters pronounced Langley's folly a success. Editorials were also quick to tease out the flights implications. As one piece in the New York Times argued the rights lawsuit had been one based on their claim that no other airplane had ever maintained itself in the air with human freight, and in French -ly could not what effect Mr. Curtis's demonstration with the Langley era drum will have in modifying. The recent decision in favor of the rights patent. No one can now tell receiving the news Curtis's old mentor. Alexander Graham, Bell wired at once. Congratulations on your successful. Vindication of Langley's aerodrome. He wrote this really is the crowning achievement of your career at least so far in hindsight. Bells pronouncement would prove to be ironic by restoring the aerodrome and finally settling the question of whether it could fly Curtis had redeemed Langley's reputation, but also set in motion a series of events that would undermine his own when we. We began this series on the early years of flying. We framed it with one simple question. If Glenn Curtiss was the father of modern aviation. Why don't more of us know his name? At the beating heart of the answer. We find Langley's aerodrome. Before the restoration, the right brothers already viewed Curtis as a fief is refusal to pay royalties on its airplanes, rob them of money that was rightfully theirs and snubbed their role as pioneers, but by restoring Langley's aerodrome Curtis was waging an even more direct attack on the brothers legacy. He was attempting to rob them both they're patent and their place in history. Orville would hit back with everything he could soon after the aerodromes first test flight, he directed brewer to publish a scathing letter in the New York Times detailing all of the aerodrome secret modifications, it didn't matter than most of the modifications weren't really secret Curtis had talked about them extensively in the press. And it didn't matter that brewer had completed the restoration projects. Two distinct phases. From that point on a whiff of scandal attached itself to the entire affair over the next seven years brewer would give lectures on both sides of the Atlantic stirring up doubts about the integrity of the restoration process in nineteen twenty one he delivered in a specially incendiary paper to the Royal Air nautical society in London, he declared that the restoration had been a fraud from start to finish perpetrated on the public simply in order to diminish the Wright brothers reputation the Smithsonian shot back that such. Accusations were unjust and offered to retest the era Drome, according to Orrville specifications four volt declined the offer, but the trumped up charges. Stuck even today? Most history books except Orville and brewers charges of fraud and collusion. Well, Curtis was live the public door them, even as he lost in court to the rights. He somehow always one in the court of public opinion. But in the years following Curtis's death, his good name became paired with the scandal of the restoration Orville outlived Curtis by nearly two decades. And dedicated those years to shaping how the history of aviation would be told in just one example of many Orville promise to quest the original right flyer to the Smithsonian Institution. But only if thirty four years after the fact, they formally apologized for their role in the restoration of Langley's era drum in a confidential deal. The museum also vowed to never publish or display any statement that suggested an aircraft prior to the right flyer might have been capable of flight. But back in the nineteen tenth Curtis was about to experience a long overdue reversal of fortune World War. One was underway and a nineteen seventeen. The United States would step into the fray, the US government forced the rights and other aviation patent holders to cross licensed their technology to aid the war effort almost overnight the Curtis company found itself flooded with contracts, including a six million dollar order from the British government freed from litigation Curtis was finally able to take advantage of his company's superior technology by nineteen eighteen the Curtiss aeroplane company was the nation's largest airplane manufacturer. You're the end of World War Two Curtis and the Wright brothers companies merged and became the Curtiss Wright corporation, given the success of Curtis's company. There was no question of which name would get top billing in the history books. Of course. The right brothers are still considered aviation's headline act. There's some irony in. That fact, the men who worked in secrecy and refuse to fly in public for five years after Kitty Hawk the ones whose names are most deeply etched in the public imagination in the end the story of Glenn Curtiss. And the Wright brothers is also a story of secrecy versus collaboration. Monopolies versus open source technology in two very different types of legacy. Curtis often told his colleagues that is long legal battles with the Wright brothers had convinced him that the best approach was to forget about patents and look for the business. It was an approach Curtis. Live by his innovations are notable for the way, they have so often endured and flourished on their own merits is airplanes introduced many features from rigid wings wing, flaps to retractable landing gear and pontoons that continue to be time-honored elements of air. Vehicle design more than a century later, these accomplishments live on even as Curtis's story has been largely forgotten and given the choice. He'd no doubt be fine without outcome. If you like our series, please give us a five star review until your friends to subscribe. We're available on apple podcasts. Spotify NPR one. And every major listening as well as at wonder dot com. If you're listening on a smartphone tapper swipe over the cover art of this podcast. You'll find the episode notes, including some details, you might have missed and a quick note about those historical recreations you've been here. Most cases, we can't know exactly what was said. So those scenes are dramatization, but they're based on real historical research, you can find some of the books and articles we found useful. In the episode news. American innovations is supposed to me, Stephen Johns. For more information on my books about the history of innovation. You can visit my website at WWW. Steven Berlin, Johnson dot com sound design on the Sepah suit. Is by spoke media. This episode was written by science writers, Seth Schulman based on his book on locking the sky from HarperCollins with editing by Natalie Cheech, our producers 'em lend executive produced by marshal Louis and her non Lopez for one.

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