Science: Grandfather of Flight

When they built the first airplane that carried a man, the Wright brothers were inspired tinkerers, not original thinkers; they did not concoct the theories on which their contraption was based. That job had largely been done by a British baronet who published a lengthy paper on aerodynamics in 1809, nearly a century before Orville Wright made his historic 120-ft. hop. In a new book, Sir George Cayley (Max Parrish, London; 425.), Aeronautics Historian J. Laurence Pritchard, former secretary of the Royal Aeronautical Society, has put together an astonishing catalog of the accomplishments of that prolific genius.

The leisurely world of Cayley's...

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