This Week's Story

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Orville and Wilbur Wright are ready for a new challenge. Pioneer aviation!

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

The Only Escape, part one

“Father, you built this maze for the king.  How do we escape from it?”

“Son, there is only one way.  We must beat the law of gravity and fly.”

Daedalus was used to inventing extreme measures. With twigs and branches from willow trees and wax, he made gigantic wings for himself and his young son. He taught Icarus to move his body and wings so that he could catch wind currents and fly.

He warned Icarus, “Keep away from the sun, or its heat will melt the wax on your wings and you will plunge to death.”

Flight school finished and Icarus and his father soared away successfully.  As Icarus flew, he became a stunt pilot, saluting the sun and diving towards the sea below.  Higher and higher Icarus flew.  The wax on his wings began oozing out. Daedalus shouted repeatedly, “Son, fly lower.”  Icarus plummeted from the skies into the sea below, drowning.

Was this the first time man beat the law of gravity?  The problem was it was not historical record. It was a marvelous tale in Greek mythology; and a wonderful dream for centuries.

In 1878, Orville and Wilbur Wright knew insects, birds, and some reptiles could fly, but could the brothers learn to fly?  They were given a toy helicopter made of cork, bamboo, paper, and a rubber band.    What if it were bigger?  They needed tools.

When their family moved, Grandpa Koerner’s tools were available.  Designing and building kites for friends soon absorbed them and became a business.

Another family move took the boys  to Dayton, Ohio.  Sports and  a printing press became new fascinations. Wilbur’s life abruptly changed, when in a hockey game several of his front teeth were knocked out.  As he recovered he began caring for his mother, who was dying of tuberculosis.

He also built a large printing press, which could print a thousand sheets of paper in an hour.  Each day he was also seeing his mother die.   He dropped out of school as a senior.  He began publishing and printing a weekly community paper with a circulation of 400.  Then he and his brother switched to producing a daily newspaper and opening a printing business. Neither brother was satisfied with his work.  When the new safety bicycle came on the market, they were captivated!

People all over the country wanted a safety bicycle in the 1890’s. The bicycles were expensive!  Orville paid $160.00 for his and Wilbur purchased a secondhand one for $80.00.  Previous bikes had a large front wheel and a small back wheel.  Riders had bumpy rides, which often ended in accidents.  The new bicycle was designed for comfort, quickness, and safety.  It had a continuous chain, wheels of equal size with wire spokes and inflatable rubber tires.  Soon the Wright brothers were repairing, selling, and designing their own bicycles for the Wright Cycle Company.

Six years passed.  Orville got typhoid fever and for six weeks was in a world of fever and misery.  As he recovered, Wilbur sat beside him and told him what aviation pioneers were discovering with gliders and aerodromes.  The question remained:  Is it possible to construct a heavier-than-air flying machine?  The Wright brothers were ready for a new challenge.  Might it be in aviation?

This is Barbara Steiner.  In our next story we will investigate more of the discoveries of the Wright brothers. Please check out thisweeksstory.com.

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