The First Photograph John T. Daniels Ever Took Was One of History’s Most Famous

David McCul a great book, but for reasons I wasn’t expecting.

I’m reading (and listening to) David McCullough’s wonderful new book, The Wright Brothers.

This isn’t a review, as I’ve only read about one-third of the book. But I’ve read enough to know that anyone who has ever has faced adversity and challenge and ridicule will recognize something familiar in the story. These brothers were from Dayton, Ohio, and funded the venture themselves. And besides, everyone know that no one would ever fly. Why? Because all of the big thinkers of the day said so.

The American press had absolutely no interest in — nor belief in — the Wright Brothers. No one believed they had flown at Kitty Hawk or had continued to fly when they got back to Dayton. Who “broke” the story? A beekeeper with a “blog.”

From a Nova episode on the Wright Brothers, comes this explanation:

Almost as astonishing as the fact that a pair of bicycle shop owners invented the airplane is the fact that the first accurate reporting about some of their earliest powered flights appeared not in the New York Times or Scientific American but in an obscure journal for beekeepers. How did this happen? For one thing, the Wright Brothers were publicity shy and fiercely secretive about their invention and did not invite reporters to witness their historic first flights. For another, the press and the general public had a cried-wolf-too-often dismissiveness about any claims to have achieved sustained flight. In the end, however, it really came down to the fact that A. I. Root, who wrote three entries about the Wrights’ accomplishments in his journal Gleanings in Bee Culture in 1904 and 1905, happened to be at the right place at the right time, with a burning fascination for what the “two Ohio boys” were up to.

And if that’s not enough, the story behind the photo of the first flight. Equally amazing. From Wikipedia:

John T. Daniels had never seen a camera prior to using the Gundlach Korona view camera with a 5-by-7-inch glass-plate negative to take the famous photo. The plate was not developed until the Wright brothers returned to Ohio. The camera was owned by the Wright brothers, who were careful to record the history making moment, and also to preserve a record for any future patent claims.

This is a great book, but for reasons I wasn’t expecting.