Do you care about whether the Wright brothers were the first to perform powered flight?

On Santos-Dumont: his first flights were in airships. He translated to heavier than air after 1904 (inspired by Ader, Lillienthal and the Wright bros). In November 1906, he won the price of the International Aeronautic Federation for a flight of more than 100m (220m in 21s).
So not the first, but one of them.

For New Zealand, specifically, isn’t first flight one of those chips?

True but I don’t think it has a generally high sense of self importance.

Richard Pearse’s flight is significant, and I think it’s been proven to be before September 1903, but apparently Pearse himself didn’t count it, as there are records of him (a letter printed in a newspaper I think it was) accepting the Wright Brothers’ flight as officially first, with seemingly no doubts or animosity.

Would anyone buy the story of the first powered flight being in St. Joseph, Michigan in 1899 by Augustus Moore Herring?

I care in as much as I care about historical accuracy. If we’re talking hundreds and hundreds of years, I’m willing to cut some slack in terms of historical precision because records kept were imprecise to say the least. I do expect precise historical records from the 20th century, however.


Gotta raise an eyebrow at an article that refers to the Wrights as “William and Orville”.

For a long time they did not get along with the Smithsonian because they were skeptical the brothers were first. Eventually they got along but it took a few decades.

It seems like every other week I read a article about how “something famous was really invented by someone else”. I find the articles interesting but generally forget the details and it just kind of takes up a little space in the back of my mind. The reality is that I probably wouldn’t care.

I “care” in the sense that attempts to rewrite history with the aid of falsehoods bother me.

One of the sleazier attempts to divert credit from the Wright brothers came many years later when adherents of Samuel Langley managed to get his Aerodrome into the air with a pilot aboard, and claimed that it showed Langley had truly pioneered powered flight. What they left out was considerable work they had done to re-engineer the Aerodrome, previously known for its spectacular failures (including a flop into the Potomac days before the Wright brothers’ Kitty Hawk success).

The Wright brothers were inspired, hard-working inventors who deserved and continue to deserve recognition as pioneers. It’s too bad that time has to be devoted to rebutting cranks, something they faced during their lifetime.

Exact reproductions of the Wright Flyer do fly. ‘Exact’ meaning the same in every detail. Re-engineering the designs of false claimants to fly may be fun to do, but any claim that these prove the designs could have flown is offensive.

“Skeptical” isn’t really the right word for the position the Smithsonian took. As Jackmannii has noted, they wanted to push their own guy (Langley - Smithsonian Secretary until his death in 1906) as the first. In pursuit of this, in 1914 they gave the remains of Langley’s failed “Aerodrome” to Glenn Curtiss, and paid him to make a bunch of changes, fly it briefly, then restore to near original it for display as the “first man-carrying aeroplane in the world capable of sustained free flight”.

Curtiss’s motives were the money he was paid, but much more significantly the effect he hoped this might have on the legal struggle he was then engaged in with the Wrights’ patent on aircraft control. He was a highly capable engineer and pilot who made significant contributions to aviation, but this was a notably sleazy piece of work.

My experience is that the usual reason is the conspiracy theorist wants to be the smartest person in the room. But they don’t want to (or can’t) put in the work to acquire knowledge the conventional way. So they take a shortcut and dismiss everything they don’t know as being a lie. That means what little they do know is the only knowledge that’s counts.

A few years ago there was a minor twitter kerfuffle when somebody (probably trolling) claimed “White people eating spicy foods is cultural appropriation because everyone knows hot sauce was invented by Africans” and Twitter being Twitter immediately splits into two sides of the issue, the people properly calling this a wrong and dumb take and the other side claiming all these theories on the African or African-American origins of hot sauce. Apparently spicy food were invented in Louisianan in the 1700’s.

My mom actually met Orville Wright in 1926, when she was 13. Somewhere there’s a photo of them shaking hands. Am I to believe that instead of meeting an honest-to-goodness celebrity, she just met some random mustached dude in a 3-piece suit and a pocket watch? Creepy!

I know a CT true believer in real life and he spends a huge amount of time watching YouTube videos reinforcing his viewpoint. I refuse to get sucked into his discussions but a colleague will. What he can’t do is debate it because he can only repeat back the talking points. He believes the rest of the world has swallowed the Kool-Aid but he can’t articulate why his position is so much better. It’s simply better and your stupid to ask why.

I don’t care which state gets credit as long as I get to keep some version of “First in Flight” on my license plate. Otherwise, I’ll be paying extra for a vanity or special interest plate to avoid the “In God We Trust” plate that seems to have become the alternative standard.

Yes, I care. Only because I’m curious about the first times historic things were done.

Yes, I care if someone is lying about history. The Wright Brothers achievements are probably one of the best documented series of events in history.

Your question doesn’t make much sense in any context beyond your disinterest in history in general.

I wounder how the the Wright Brothers would have reacted if someone told them cloth from one of their planes would eventually fly on mars.