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Wilbur Wright and Samuel Langley

Irony at its best!


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In 1899, Wilbur Wright wrote a letter to Samuel P. Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, requesting any written material on aerodynamics. Langley sent him 4 pamphlets and a list of other publications.

In fact, Langley had himself been trying to build the first airplane. For 18 years he had solicited contributions toward building a flying houseboat and catapult (the stress of the catapult nearly destroyed a wing and drowned the pilot in this 1903 experiment). Only 8 days later, on 17 Dec. 1903, the Wright brothers, with Orville in the contraption and Wilbur looking on, sent the first manned airplane into flight. 

Neither Langley nor the Wright brothers knew about the research and experiments of the other, but both are remembered today by having air fields named after them, as you can see in the accompanying image. 

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