Fresh from successful flights before royalty in Europe, and soon after thrilling hundreds of thousands of people by flying around the Statue of Liberty, in the fall of 1909 Wilbur and Orville Wright decided the time was right to begin manufacturing their airplanes for sale. Backed by Wall Street tycoons, including August Belmont, Cornelius Vanderbilt III, and Andrew Freedman, the brothers formed the Wright Company.

The Wright Company trained hundreds of early aviators at its flight schools, including Roy Brown, the Canadian pilot credited with shooting down Manfred von Richtofen the Red Baron during the First World War; and Hap Arnold, the commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces during the Second World War. Pilots with the company s exhibition department thrilled crowds at events from Winnipeg to Boston, Corpus Christi to Colorado Springs. Cal Rodgers flew a Wright Company airplane in pursuit of the $50,000 Hearst Aviation Prize in 1911.

But all was not well in Dayton, a city that hummed with industry, producing cash registers, railroad cars, and many other products. The brothers found it hard to transition from running their own bicycle business to being corporate executives responsible for other people's money. Their dogged pursuit of enforcement of their 1906 patent especially against Glenn Curtiss and his company helped hold back the development of the U.S. aviation industry. When Orville Wright sold the company in 1915, more than three years after his brother's death, he was a comfortable man but his company had built only 120 airplanes at its Dayton factory and Wright Company products were not in the U.S. arsenal as war continued in Europe.

Edward Roach provides a fascinating window into the legendary Wright Company, its place in Dayton, its management struggles, and its effects on early U.S. aviation.

Editorial Reviews
  • "Edward Roach's work "The Wright Company: From Invention to Industry" examines one of the least studied time periods in the brothers' careers. Wilbur and Orville may have been brilliant intuitive engineers, but they were not brilliant intuitive entrepreneurs. their inexperience with the world of big business, plus their energy-draining defense of their patent, left them behind as others pioneered the aircraft industry. This book is a valuable addition to the literature on the Wright brothers and the early history of the aircraft industry in the United States."--Janet R. Bednarek, University of Dayton
  • "A well-researched and fascinating look into an often forgotten chapter in aviation history.... This detailed biographical, corporate, and industrial history is nicely illustrated with historical photos and advertisements."--Library Journal
  • "The book explores the one area of the career of the Wright brothers that remains least well known. It casts new light on the business career of the Wright brothers, and on the history of the Wright Company and the men who led it.... Taken as a whole, the book offers a concise and readable history of an important topic that has received all too little attention." --Tom D. Crouch, Senior Curator, Aeronautics, Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum, and author of "The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright
  • "Roach's chronicle of the birth, growth, and subsequent marginalization of the Wright Company adds a new and critical piece to the story of America's most famous sibling inventors. Recommended."--Choice 
About the Author

Edward J. Roach is a historian at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Ohio

Product Details

Author:  Edward J. Roach
ISBN:  082142050X
Publisher:  Ohio University Press
Publish Date:  January 21, 2014
Pages:  218 pages
Dimensions:  0.7" H x 8.9" L x 5.9" W (0.65 lbs) 

The Wright Company: From Invention to Industry

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