. Success in Business

The Wrights offered to build airplanes for the U. S. Army, but the army turned them down until 1908, when it agreed to pay $25,000 for an airplane that could carry a passenger and fly for an hour. Soon after, the Wrights struck a deal to license the plane to French investors as well. They designed and tested a new airplane with a passenger seat. On May 14, 1908, Wilbur took mechanic Charles Furnas into the air in the world’s first passenger plane.

In 1909, the brothers opened the Wright Company in Dayton to build air­planes. They also started a flying school. The brothers became unpopular, how­ever, when they brought several lawsuits charging other aviators with taking their ideas. Although law courts typically found in their favor, the brothers’ actions struck the public as mean-spirited.

In 1912, Wilbur died of typhoid fever, and Orville took over running the business. He spent much of the rest of his life vigorously promoting the brothers’ achievement. In 1948, at the age of seventy-seven, Orville died of a heart attack.

THE GRANDEST SIGHT "When it first turned that circle, . . .

I said then, and I believe still, it was. . . the grandest sight of my life. Imagine a locomotive that has left its track, and is climbing up in the air right toward you-a locomotive without any wheels, we will say, but with white wings instead. . . . Well, now, imagine this white locomotive, with wings that spread 20 feet each way, coming right toward you with a tremendous flap of its propellers, and you will have something like what I saw."

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