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About the book
Unlocking the Sky tells the extraordinary tale of the race to design, refine, and manufacture a manned flying machine, a race that took place in the air, on the ground, and in the courtrooms of America. While the Wright brothers threw a veil of secrecy over their flying machine, Glenn Hammond Curtiss -- perhaps the greatest aviator and aeronautical inventor of all time -- freely exchanged information with engineers in America and abroad, resulting in his famous airplane, the June Bug, which made the first ever public flight in America. Fiercely jealous, the Wright brothers took to the courts to keep Curtiss and his airplane out of the sky and off the market. Ultimately, however, it was Curtiss's innovations and designs, not the Wright brothers', that served as the model for the modern airplane.
Journalist Shulman (Owning the Future) gives readers a jumbled but compelling revision to accepted aviation history in this study of American aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss. A bicycle builder like the Wright brothers, he was second into the air (1908), but invented more of modern aviation technology and built better airplanes. This did not keep the Wrights (particularly Orville) from suing Curtiss on the questionable ground that their patent gave them a monopoly of airplane building in the U. S. Shulman's account presents Curtiss as the Little Guy vs. the Corporate Monopolists and uses "non-fiction novel" techniques (e.g., assigning Curtiss present-tense internal dialogue) in a way that calls unnecessary attention to them. It also tries to cram too many subjects into a modest length, but in the end it succeeds in offering the general reader an up-to-date overview of Curtiss's remarkable achievements. 8-page b&w photo insert (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved