Wright Articles

While the Wright brothers were featured in quite a few newspaper articles from the time they made their first treks to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1900—mainly in local newspapers at Dayton and around Kitty Hawk—the first national and international coverage they got did not come until their first powered flights at Kitty Hawk in December 1903.  Many of the articles appearing after 17 December 1903 were fanciful and often quite erroneous.   The only reliable articles on them appeared in the popular American science and technology journal Scientific American—in articles usually written by themselves.  And though the brothers flew extensively at Dayton during 1904 and 1905 they deliberately shied away from the press and photographers who they feared might easily discover their secrets of controlling a flying machine.

Interest in flight from 1903 to 1908 grew dramatically as the innovators in flight and informed observers of technological innovation began to sense that manned flight would suddenly emerge almost any day—most likely in France, perhaps in Germany or Italy, or less likely in Great Britain or the United States—despite many rumors about the capabilities of the Wrights. 

As gigantic airships, balloons, and zeppelins began to be launched in all of these nations and as a few aeronauts in France began to achieve short flights in fixed wing aircraft, the world’s press turned euphorically toward any small step in flight.   The press became vitally interested in world records in all types of flight and the race among nations to establish a position of leadership in aerial navigation. 

Every new step was followed assiduously by the Scientific American in 1908.  We have thus scanned and included on this page all articles during 1908 relating to flight in the United States or abroad. 

When dispatches began to emerge from North Carolina at the end of April 1908, the world’s press began to publish everything about the Wright brothers’ flights—erroneous and wrong-headed the articles might be.  Many articles about fantastic flights appeared before the brothers even got their plane out of its shipping crate.  These articles caused so much sensation that the world’s press descended on Manteo, NC, in early May to get the real story.   During seven days in May 1908 (8th to 14th) there were journalists on the scene from New York, Washington, Chicago, and London who wrote and telegraphed eyewitness and rumored stories about the Wrights to the ends of the earth. 

Thus, in addition to the over view provided by articles from Scientific American throughout 1908, we have also included on this page many of the so-called news stories that appeared in the press prior to 8 May and a good selection of those articles that went forth during the historic seven days of observed Wright activities and flights.  Included are the Norfolk Virginian Pilot,  the New York Herald, and the London Daily Mail.

Available Articles