When the Wright brothers made their momentous first ever manned powered flight at Kittyhawk in North Carolina on 17 December 1903, the event heralded the birth of one of the most far-reaching inventions in the history of mankind. Peter Cooksley opens his narrative account with an overview of mankind's fascination with flight, in fact and in legend, before examining in the first half of the book the early lives and background of the Wright brothers. He proceeds to review their early trials with gliders and the steps that led them to building and flying the world's first powered aircraft. The success of the Wright Flyer is described and the granting of manufacturing licences for the aircraft around the world. The second half of the book explores the development of flight by other aviation pioneers, presented in chronological order of their greatest achievements. The reader can compare men like Cayley, Lilienthal, Maxim, Pilcher Santos Dumont, Cody and Bleriot with the Wrights and with one another. A comprehensive selection of archive photographs, illustrations, line drawings and maps complements the author's informative narrative.
Peter G. Cooksley was a training officer in the RAF/ROC, and is the author of over twenty books on aviation subjects including Sutton's VC's of the First World War: The Air VC's and RAF/RNA'S Handbook 1914-1918. A former vice-president of Cross and Cockade International, the Society of First World War Aviation Historians, and an associate member of the Royal Historical Society, Peter lives in Surrey.