“[Roach] closes a major gap in our understanding of the brothers, drawing on an untapped cache of corporate records and the scattered papers of business associates to produce a history of the Wright Company set in the larger context of American business, labor, urban, and industrial history. His book is a fresh, honest, and well-researched view of Wilbur and Orville’s experience as the president and vice president of the Wright Company, respectively, detailing the rise and fall of a firm that in different hands might have dominated an infant industry.”
Business History Review
“The Wrights were excellent self-taught engineers who achieved success through a process more akin to tinkering than systematic research and development. They were poor businessmen, however, as this fine discussion of their stint as ‘captains of industry’ illustrates.”
American Historical Review
“Roach has produced what will become the standard work on the subject, and The Wright Company deepens our understanding of early American aviation history in several valuable ways. …General readers interested in these aspects of twentieth-century transport and aviation history will benefit from reading Roach’s work, as will specialists.”
Journal of Transport History
“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
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.
Edward J. Roach is a historian at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Ohio. More info →
Save 20% ($18.36)
Save 20% ($55.96)
US and Canada only
Availability and price vary according to vendor.
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
Draws on the unpublished diaries, correspondence, informal memoir, and other personal documents of the U.S. Navy’s only flying “ace” of World War I to tell his unique story.
While the majority of scholarship on early Washington focuses on its political and physical development, in Incidental Architect Gordon S. Brown describes the intellectual and social scene of the 1790s and early 1800s through the lives of a prominent couple whose cultural aspirations served as both model and mirror for the city’s own.When William and Anna Maria Thornton arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1794, the new nation’s capital was little more than a raw village.
Gibbons v. Ogden, Law, and Society in the Early Republic examines a landmark decision in American jurisprudence, the first Supreme Court case to deal with the thorny legal issue of interstate commerce.Decided in 1824, Gibbons v. Ogden arose out of litigation between owners of rival steamboat lines over passenger and freight routes between the neighboring states of New York and New Jersey.
Sign up to be notified when new Ohio and Regional titles come out.
We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.