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The Wrong Stuff?

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Overview

This year, America celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' history-making flight at Kitty Hawk. But for those other pioneers whose efforts to fly never got off the ground, there is no celebration. Plenty of people attempted flight before the Wright Brothers and failed. Many others came after the Wright Brothers, hoping they could do better, and also failed. Now aviation journalist Phil Scott gives these glorious (and often hilarious) failures their due in his new book, The Wrong Stuff? Attempts ...
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Overview

This year, America celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' history-making flight at Kitty Hawk. But for those other pioneers whose efforts to fly never got off the ground, there is no celebration. Plenty of people attempted flight before the Wright Brothers and failed. Many others came after the Wright Brothers, hoping they could do better, and also failed. Now aviation journalist Phil Scott gives these glorious (and often hilarious) failures their due in his new book, The Wrong Stuff? Attempts at Flight Before (and After) the Wright Brothers.

With scores of photographs and a wry text, The Wrong Stuff? presents a veritable fleet of failed aircraft, ranging from the inventive to the outlandish to the just plain weird. Scott's dramatis personae include not just obscure inventors but also such celebrated figures as Leonardo Da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Hiram Maxim (inventor of the Maxim Machine Gun), Howard Hughes, and a distant relative of George Armstrong Custer whose luck with planes paralleled his ancestor's luck with Indians.

"For most of history," Scott writes, "people didn't have a clue how to fly. But still they tried, God love 'em." In the 1500s, Leonardo designed a pair of human powered wings. They were never constructed, which is just as well; according to his specs, they would have weighed more than 500 pounds. Subsequent centuries saw equally impractical devices, powered by everything from bicycles to steam engines, and Scott chronicles them all. There were human-driven helicopters and car-plane hybrids. There was the Aerial Steam Carriage, the Vertijet, the Flying Pancake, the Rotabuggy, the Fleep, the Pogo, and the Inflatoplane (yes, it's what you think: an inflatable airplane). There were early, rickety versions of the jet and the stealth plane. There were vehicles with two wings, three wings, seven wings, no wings. They were launched from hilltops, cliffs, horse-drawn carts, catapults, ramps and lakes. And they all had one thing in common.

They didn't work.

In The Wrong Stuff?, these inept inventions all rate an E for effort, and their hapless creators get a well-deserved moment in the sun.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592580446
  • Publisher: Hylas Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/10/2003
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2003

    What's Wright and What's Wrong

    If anyone has ever wondered about the guys who didn't succeed in their attempt at flight this book tells their stories. 'The Wrong Stuff' is filled with facts that range from funny to bizarre. A nuclear-powered airplane. Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose that only flew once. This is a must have for any guy--or gal--that loves stuff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2003

    Be grateful next time you board a jet...

    that the brave, visionary, and sometimes off-kilter souls that populate Phil Scott's The Wrong Stuff took their early misguided steps in getting us off the ground, creatively showing the world how not to fly. This entertaining and informative narrative of aviation 'don'ts' takes nothing away from the bravery of these pioneers, and makes the Wright Brothers' accomplishment all the more remarkable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2003

    An entertaining Read

    Phil Scott make what could be boring material interesting and inviting. I don't normally read history or biographies, but at the recommendation of a friend, I picked it up. And I don't regret it! The subject matter is interesting becuase Phil makes it so!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2003

    Chronic Xmas Gift Problem Solved for 2003!!

    This informative, entertaining, and delightfully browsable book is perfect for those hard-to-shop-for male relatives. Whew! The photos and drawings make the historical anecdotes and facts vivid for lite-history lovers like me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2003

    You can count on this one...

    There's no doubt about how much fun 'The Wrong Stuff' proved to be. Whether you need research information or simply a humorous look at flight, you can count on this one. Phil Scott has proven himself in both book form, magazine columns, and feature articles to know 'his stuff' about the history of flight. This time, the reader can count on Scott's insightful humor based on solid research.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2003

    REFRESHING!!

    Whenever I read something written by 'Phil Scott' I can't put it down! No matter what the subject matter, his thoughts flow so fluently. I read an article he wrote in a magazine that I normally wouldn't pick up while sitting in a doctor's office; and I remembered his name because his writing was so enjoyable and made perfect sense!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2003

    This is an OUTSTANDING book!

    As a part-time flight instructor, I think that teaching at least some of the history of aviation along with the skills and knowledge required to fly an airplane makes for a well-rounded pilot. Not unlike his other two books, 'On the Shoulders of Giants' and 'Pioneers of Flight,' Phil Scott¿s latest book, ¿The Wrong Stuff,¿ is a veritable compendium of aviation history and information that is a must-have for every aviation enthusiast and pilot . Wonderfully written, easy to read, and hard to put down, ¿The Wrong Stuff¿ is a wonderful, warm, and humorous account of all the things that went wrong leading up to the Wright Brothers¿ first flight, and some of the attempts made at flight by others afterward. Scott introduces these history-making people to the reader in such a way that he or she will come to know and befriend them; the reader will empathetically share the frustrations of failure¿and the joys of success¿as encountered by the characters in this book. I would recommend this book to anyone with even the slightest inkling of an interest in aviation; in particular, I¿d recommend the book to anyone getting onto an airplane for a transcontinental flight.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2003

    They Reached for the Stars and Found Cleveland

    Too many histories of aviation take December 17, 1903 as the day aviation sprung fully formed as from the brow of Zeus, ready to strap on the jet engines and fling itself across the seas, serving flat soda and stale peanuts all the way. Phil Scot knows better and show us all the 'roads not taken' in 'The Wrong Stuff,' a worthy compilation of all the various techniques human beings tried on the quest for successful flight Some are laughable, others cannily on-target, if just sufficiently skewed to remain groundbound. Today the concept of 'form follows function' is taken as granted. Back in the early days of flight, no such dictum held sway and the results were entraining and often harrowing. What's truly stonishing is that each design was backed by a dreamer, designer or visionary who truly thought 'this is the one, this is the mahcine that will put me in the history books. Scot's prose is engaging and the photos are nothing short of amazing. A pefect gift buy for this year's bicentennial of flight.    

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