First to Fly: How Wilbur and Orville Wright Invented the Airplane


It started with a toy. As boys, Wilbur and Orville Wright loved making their helicopter fly. As adults, the brothers made their living taking things apart and putting them together again: printing presses, bicycles, planes. . . . Through trial and error, these two boys from Dayton, Ohio, built the plane that would change the world forever.
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Craig, David, Dr. 2003 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 32 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: Children/juvenile.

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It started with a toy. As boys, Wilbur and Orville Wright loved making their helicopter fly. As adults, the brothers made their living taking things apart and putting them together again: printing presses, bicycles, planes. . . . Through trial and error, these two boys from Dayton, Ohio, built the plane that would change the world forever.
With an inspiring text, original paintings, period photographs, and detailed diagrams, First to Fly recreates the story of the Wright Brothers, from their earliest challenges to their final triumph.

From the Hardcover edition.

A look at the lives of the Wright brothers, from their childhood interest in flight, through their study of successful gliders and other flying machines, to their triumphs at Kitty Hawk and beyond.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
First to Fly, with oversized pages filled to capacity with archival photos; lucid boxed essays on topics like wing-warping and wind tunnels; and diagrams that explain such mysteries as pitch, roll and yaw, is also to be commended for going beyond Kitty Hawk. Busby makes clear the pleasure that came with roughing it on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in pursuit of a lofty goal, then moves on to the refining process back home in Dayton, which produced a version that could stay up in the air until its fuel ran out and then land safely, ready for the next go-round. The last painting shows the 81-year-old Bishop Wright in 1910, in the air for the first time, shouting in his son's ear, ''Higher, Orville! Higher!'' — Abby McGanney Nolan
Publishers Weekly
First-time children's author Busby's (Exterminating Angels) detail-rich biography of Wilbur and Orville Wright will hook aviation buffs from the first soaring sentence ("Let her go, Orv!"). With clear analysis ("The Wright Brothers had one great advantage over other pioneers of aviation: they built bikes") and a fluid writing style, Busby recounts the brothers' early research and, vividly, their experiences in Kitty Hawk, N.C., where on December 17, 1903, Wilbur was aloft for 59 seconds. The book also explores the Wrights after Kitty Hawk, as they battled for public recognition, eventually becoming the "First Heroes of the New Century," and continued to design airplanes. Tangential topics-a profile of 19th-century aviation innovator Otto Lilienthal; technical explanations of wing warping, the 1903 Flyer, etc.- are placed in cogent sidebars that provide bonus information without slowing the story. A large square trim (approximately 11.5" x 11.5") shows to advantage the marvelous array of illustrations, ranging from Craig's (Attack on Pearl Harbor) active, in-the-moment paintings imagining the Wrights' lives, to diagrams, postcards and historic photographs, including sepia-toned shots of the first flight. A superlative mix of visuals and text. Ages 8-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature
It is hard to imagine a world without the airplane. These extraordinary machines shape our lives in so many ways. They also shaped the lives of two remarkable and visionary young men. The Wright brothers came from a happy and lively family. Their mother encouraged their tendency to tinker with and take apart machines. It really could not have been a surprise to anyone that the brothers ended up running and owning a store that built and repaired bicycles. The brothers were soon able to pursue their boyhood interest in "the problem of mechanical and human flight." They began simply, working with kites, and then moved up to gliders. The brothers understood that they had to fully understand the physical concepts of flight before they could build a flying machine. Once they had a glider that worked they tried putting a man in one, and soon they achieved this goal. From there they added a small engine to the equation. What the author of this attractive book gives his readers is a very personal look into the personalities of the Wright brothers. They were quiet and determined, unwilling to give up when things went wrong. There were numerous crashes and setbacks, which could very easily have put these young men off, and yet they kept on going, always hopeful they would one day succeed in their efforts to build a flying machine. Filled with wonderful photographs, illustrations, and full-page paintings, this is a truly impressive tribute to the Wright brothers and their extraordinary achievements. 2003, Crown Publishers,
— Marya Jansen-Gruber
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Blending attention-grabbing visuals with a satisfying text, this oversized volume explains how two brothers turned their boyhood dreams into reality through dedication, determination, and resourcefulness. With its glorious paintings, period photos, and informative diagrams, this title soars. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A lavishly illustrated picture book joins archival material, diagrams, and original paintings to tell the story of how the Wright brothers invented the airplane. The text briefly covers their lives before Kitty Hawk, focusing narrowly on the period from 1899 to 1903 as they experimented and refined their designs in pursuit of a self-propelled flying machine. The sprightly, lucid text takes the brothers back and forth from their Dayton, Ohio, bicycle shop to Kitty Hawk, quoting from their letters and from the recollections of witnesses to give a terrific sense of immediacy. Sidebars and diagrams explain the various innovations the brothers tried: from the wing and rudder controls on the actual Flyers to the wind tunnel they built in their workshop to test aerodynamics. One further chapter and an epilogue detail the brothers' activities subsequent to that history-making flight: their efforts to patent and market their invention and the founding of the Wright Company, which designed aircraft for both military and civilian uses. Busby's text, his first for children, deftly combines technical detail with narrative thrust; Jack McMaster's diagrams complement the technical descriptions beautifully, while Craig's (Attack on Pearl Harbor, not reviewed) lush oils add dramatic flair. One significant flaw is that many of the primary sources are quoted blind, with no indication in the text or back matter where the observations came from (a stellar exception to this is the citation of Orville's letters home from Kitty Hawk). Two pages of back matter provide a chronology, select glossary, bibliography (which includes books for younger and older readers as well as Web sites), picture credits, and index.(Picture book/nonfiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375812873
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/11/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 9 - 13 Years
  • Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.84 (w) x 11.16 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Busby, author of two novels, is a former teacher.
David Craig’s paintings have illustrated many books, posters, plates, and coins.

From the Hardcover edition.
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