The Wright Brothers

Joe Guilbeau, Humorist

It is easy for me to write this column since I have a background in aviation.

In 1936 the piper aircraft corporation began producing the immensely successful J-3 piper cub. Well over 14000 J-3s were built. I was privileged to own one of them. I have good pictures of it. I owned a flying service, pulling banners at public events and barnstorming.

In the 1930s and 1940s tens of thousands of private pilots learned to fly in the cubs.

On a winter day in 1903, on the remote outer banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Dayton, Ohio, Wilbur and Orville Wright, changed history. The age of flight had begun with the first heavier-than-air-powered machine carrying a pilot.

For more than a couple of Dayton bicycle mechanics who happened to hit on success, the wright brothers were men of exceptional ability, unyielding determination, and far-raining intellectual interest and curiosity, much of which they attributed to their up bringing.

When the brothers worked together, no problem seemed insurmountable. Wilbur, the older of the two was unquestionably a genius. Orville had such mechanical ingenuity as few people had ever seen. They lived with the reality that every time they took off in one of their experimental contrivances. They stood a good chance of being killed.

Early on, the brothers decided they must never fly together. That way if one were killed, the other could still carry on with their work.

The picture of the first flight on Dec. 3, 1903 with Orville at the controls and Wilbur in his dark suit watching from the right is one of the two or three most famous, historically-iconic pictures of the 20th century.

Orville died of a heart attack at the age of 77 in Dayton’s Miami valley hospital in the evening of January 30, 1948 and was laid to rest at Woodland Valley Cemetery with his father, mother, and sister Katharine.