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on 25 April 2009
Unlike Fred Kelly's attempt to write the sanitized "official biography" at Orville Wright's behest, John Walsh tells the real story, warts and all. It was through this book, that I learned that it was John R. McMahon who told the real story based on his revision of an original manuscript by Earl Findley. Orville had first turned to Findley to write the official Wright Brothers biography; but it was too near the truth; too personal; and he nixed the project after reading the manuscript.

But the truth came out, when McMahon wrote a series of articles on the Wright Brothers in "Popular Science," January 1929. When he came to write his book, still based on the Finley manuscript, Orville protested and was able to get several passages, on threat of court action, changed in the book. For example, Orville didn't want the years Wilbur spent at home as an invalid, revealed. Orville also has himself elevated above Wilbur, as the creative driving force in the airplane's invention.

If you want to investigate the real story, take the Kelly book with a grain of salt, and read instead, this excellent book by John Evangelist Walsh, "One Day at Kitty Hawk," published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1975. Even better, wouldn't it be good to have the unpublished Finley manuscript published, instead of suppressed.

But don't look for the Walsh book at the Wright Brothers Memorial National Park Service Visitor's Center. In a recent interview with a National Park Service Ranger there, he told me the Park Service regularly reviews all books before being put on sale in their facility, and the Walsh book was not one they would put out for sale. After I explained to him my credentials, he freely admitted that the information in the Kelly book was Orville's attempt to "re-write" history. But he stated that the Park Service didn't want to ruffle feathers of Wright family members, by putting out the more correct John Walsh biography, which he admitted, was more accurate.

I had always wondered why Orville, the more out-going of the two, would, in later life, say very little...he refused to give speeches, interviews, and said next to nothing at celebrations in honor of the Brothers.
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on 18 December 2014
Great history
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