Rivals Of The Wright Brothers: Samuel Pierpont Langley In the first of a series on competitors to the Wright Brothers to be the first to fly, host Liane Hansen speaks with James Tobin, author of "To Conquer The Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight" (The Free Press; ISBN: 0684856883).They discuss Samuel Pierpont Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and one of the most esteemed scientists in the country. Langley was the only flight experimenter to get government funding. His "aerodrome" was tested twice, launched from a catapult atop a houseboat in the Potomac River -- the last test coming just days before the Wright Brothers' flight. (13:56)
NPR logo Rivals Of The Wright Brothers: Samuel Pierpont Langley

Rivals Of The Wright Brothers: Samuel Pierpont Langley

In the first of a series on competitors to the Wright Brothers to be the first to fly, host Liane Hansen speaks with James Tobin, author of "To Conquer The Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight" (The Free Press; ISBN: 0684856883).They discuss Samuel Pierpont Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and one of the most esteemed scientists in the country. Langley was the only flight experimenter to get government funding. His "aerodrome" was tested twice, launched from a catapult atop a houseboat in the Potomac River — the last test coming just days before the Wright Brothers' flight. (13:56)