Unlocking the Sky by Seth Shulman

I brought a book with me to a work assignment I had in Redding CA. The smokey environment near the Carr fire during the weeks I was there and my long work hours made escaping by reading a book in my room at the Inn I was staying at an interesting pastime and distraction. I read Seth Shulman’s “Unlocking the Sky” . The reason I’m posting my thoughts here is that this book explains the rivalry between the Wright brothers and Glen Curtis at the beginning of the 20th century. Though the Model T is not mentioned, the Model T era is the back drop of the story and Henry Ford is mentioned a couple of times as offering his aid to Glen Curtis, as the author suggests, Ford’s motivation was due to the sympathies he had from his own experiences fighting the Seldon automobile patent battles. It’s a fascinating story, though fans of the Wright brothers might not appreciated the pro-Glen Curtis leaning of the story. Glen Curtis is portrayed as a counterpoint and equal to the Wrights with the Wrights being obsessed with wanting to monopolized and control the American Aviation industry through their patent suits and Curtis as being an open promoter of the emerging technology. The conflict between the two sides is told through the story telling of a series of Curtis’ flying creations and participation in aviation events of the period verses the Wright Brothers attempts to stop him claiming he owed them royalty payments. Glenn Curtis is presented in heroic fashion in as near to the way the Wright Brothers typically are other books on early aviation. Seeing the Wright brothers framed more as villains is an interesting change of pace. If you like the Model T and the state of technology during the Model T era I recommend this easy to read book.