30+ quotes from The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Quotes from The Wright Brothers

David McCullough ·  320 pages

Rating: (49.6K votes)


“If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio. WILBUR WRIGHT”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“All the money anyone needs is just enough to prevent one from being a burden on others.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“No bird soars in a calm. WILBUR WRIGHT”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“We learn much by tribulation, and by adversity our hearts are made better.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“The best dividends on the labor invested have invariably come from seeking more knowledge rather than more power.” Signed Wilbur and Orville Wright, March 12, 1906.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“But it isn’t true,” Orville responded emphatically, “to say we had no special advantages . . . the greatest thing in our favor was growing up in a family where there was always much encouragement to intellectual curiosity.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Not incidentally, the Langley project had cost nearly $70,000, the greater part of it public money, whereas the brothers’ total expenses for everything from 1900 to 1903, including materials and travel to and from Kitty Hawk, came to a little less than $1,000, a sum paid entirely from the modest profits of their bicycle business.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“The man who wishes to keep at the problem long enough to really learn anything positively must not take dangerous risks. Carelessness and overconfidence are usually more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the earth. But we were wrong. . . ”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“What had transpired that day in 1903, in the stiff winds and cold of the Outer Banks in less than two hours time, was one of the turning points in history, the beginning of change for the world far greater than any of those present could possibly have imagined. With their homemade machine, Wilbur and Orville Wright had shown without a doubt that man could fly and if the world did not yet know it, they did. Their flights that morning were the first ever in which a piloted machine took off under its own power into the air in full flight, sailed forward with no loss of speed, and landed at a point as high as that from which it started.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“If a boy finds he can make a few articles with his hands, it tends to make him rely on himself. And the planning that is necessary for the execution of the work is a discipline and an education of great value to him.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“When you see one of these graceful crafts sailing over your head, and possibly over your home, as I expect you will in the near future, see if you don’t agree with me that the flying machine is one of God’s most gracious and precious gifts.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“In no way did any of this discourage or deter Wilbur and Orville Wright, any more than the fact that they had had no college education, no formal technical training, no experience working with anyone other than themselves, no friends in high places, no financial backers, no government subsidies, and little money of their own. Or”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“In Le Mans, despite increasingly cold days, Wilbur, having switched to wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket, was busy practicing takeoffs without the use of a catapult. He had decided to compete for the Michelin Cup, a prize newly established by the French tire company, and in the competition such launching devices were not allowed. On the day of the event, December 31, the last day of the year and Wilbur’s last big event at Camp d’Auvours, in spite of rain and cold he was barely able to endure, he put on his most astonishing performance yet, flying longer and farther than anyone ever had—2 hours, 20 minutes, and 23 and one fifth seconds during which he covered a distance of 77 miles. He won the Cup.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Make business first, pleasure afterward, and that guarded. All the money anyone needs is just enough to prevent one from being a burden on others. He made a point of treating”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Wilbur, as George Spratt once told Octave Chanute, was “always ready to oppose an idea expressed by anybody,” ready to “jump into an argument with both sleeves rolled up.” And as Wilbur himself would explain to Spratt, he believed in “a good scrap.” It brought out “new ways of looking at things,” helped “round off the corners.” It was characteristic of all his family, Wilbur said, to be able to see the weak points of anything.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“It wasn’t luck that made them fly; it was hard work and common sense; they put their whole heart and soul and all their energy into an idea and they had the faith.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“From ancient times and into the Middle Ages, man had dreamed of taking to the sky, of soaring into the blue like the birds. One savant in Spain in the year 875 is known to have covered himself with feathers in the attempt. Others devised wings of their own design and jumped from rooftops and towers—some to their deaths—in Constantinople, Nuremberg, Perugia.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“We believed in a good God, a bad Devil, and a hot Hell, and more than anything else we believed that same God did not intend man should ever fly.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Scratching off a postcard to Charlie Taylor, Orville expressed the same spirit in a lighter vein. Flying machine market has been very unsteady the past two days. Opened yesterday morning at about 208 (100% means even chance of success) but by noon had dropped to 110. These fluctuations would have produced a panic, I think, in Wall Street, but in this quiet place it only put us to thinking and figuring a little.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Every mind should be true to itself—should think, investigate and conclude for itself,” wrote Ingersoll.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Of those who had been eyewitnesses at Kill Devil Hills the morning of the 17th, John T. Daniels was much the most effusive about what he had felt. “I like to think about it now,” he would say in an interview years later. “I like to think about that first airplane the way it sailed off in the air . . . as pretty as any bird you ever laid your eyes on. I don’t think I ever saw a prettier sight in my life.” But it would never have happened, Daniels also stressed, had it not been for the two “workingest boys” he ever knew. It wasn’t luck that made them fly; it was hard work and common sense; they put their whole heart and soul and all their energy into an idea and they had the faith.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Included among the ecclesiastical works on his bedroom shelves were the writings of “The Great Agnostic,” Robert Ingersoll, whom the brothers and Katharine were encouraged to read. “Every mind should be true to itself—should think, investigate and conclude for itself,” wrote Ingersoll. It was the influence of Ingersoll apparently that led the brothers to give up regular attendance at church, a change the Bishop seems to have accepted without protest.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, another American born and raised in western Ohio, stepped onto the moon, he carried with him, in tribute to the Wright brothers, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of their 1903 Flyer.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Wilbur would remark that if he were to give a young man advice on how to get ahead in life, he would say, “Pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Nonetheless, as Katharine knew, they were having a splendid time, especially because of their work, but also in good measure because of the “Kitty Hawkers,” whose consistent friendliness and desire to be of help, whose stories and ways of looking at life and expressing their opinions, made an enormous difference. The brothers were now hearing, as they had not before, words like “disremember” for “forget” and such expressions as “I’ll not be seeing you tomorrow,” or smooth water described being “slick calm.” “Hoi toide” was “high tide.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“followed. . . . By merely observing with close attention how the winged tribes perform their feats, by carefully reflecting on what we have seen, and, above all, by striving correctly to understand the modus operandi of what we do see, we are sure not to wander far from the path, which leads to eventual success.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“One ship drives east and another drives west With the self-same winds that blow. ’Tis the set of the sails And not the gales Which tells us the way to go. ELLA WHEELER WILCOX, “WINDS OF FATE”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“But it is not really necessary to look too far into the future; we see enough already to be certain that it will be magnificent. Only let us hurry and open the roads.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


“Learning the secret of flight from a bird,” Orville would say, “was a good deal like learning the secret of magic from a magician.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Wright Brothers


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About the author

David McCullough
Born place: in Pittsburgh, The United States
Born date July 7, 1933
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