“FOOLISH” BELIEF: Orville Wright no longer expects aeroplanes to supersede trains or even automobiles


The Los Angeles Times reports on an interview with Orville Wright, who made history as the first aeroplane pilot just ten short years ago. With “a note of regret,” Wright discussed how “[t]he United States is lagging behind other modern nations of the world in the use of the aeroplane.”  Wright also downplayed what he termed the “many extravagant prophesies and many unjust expectations as to the development of the aeroplane,” indicating that his view is that aeroplanes will be used mainly “for military purposes” and “for sport.”  The reporter observed that there was little “evidence of prosperity about the Wright home.”

The article concludes with this quote from Wright:

The belief that the aeroplane would supersede automobiles and even railway trains, which was freely circulated when the aeroplane first came into public knowledge as a practical thing, was, of course, too foolish for serious consideration.

One hopes that Orville Wright’s powers of prediction are no better than those of his brother Wilbur, who in 1901 — just two years before Orville’s successful flight — told Orville that man will not fly for fifty years.  At least Wilbur was closer to the mark than the New York Times, which on October 9, 1903 ( just two months before Orville’s successful flight), apparently not having considered the possibility of exponential technological change, predicted that an operable flying machine (other than, of course, a balloon)

might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years — provided, of course, we can meanwhile eliminate such little drawbacks and embarrassments as the existing relation between weight and strength in inorganic materials.

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One Response to “FOOLISH” BELIEF: Orville Wright no longer expects aeroplanes to supersede trains or even automobiles

  1. Pingback: EARLE OVINGTON: The Aeroplane of the Future | Retropundit

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