Experts

 

Eleven of the world’s leading Wright experts contributed their insights and perspectives to this project. Never before has such a renowned group of Wright scholars and aeronautical historians been assembled in this manner. See and hear more of their fascinating commentary below.


Tom CrouchTom Crouch

Tom D. Crouch is Senior Curator of the Division of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum. Since 1974, he has served both the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History in a variety of curatorial and administrative posts. Dr. Crouch wrote the award-winning biography The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville. His many other works on the history aeronautics include Lighter than Air: A Concise History of Balloons and Airships; Wings: A History of Aviation from Kites to the Space Age; Bleriot XI: The Story of a Classic Airplane; A Dream of Wings: Americans and the Airplane, 1875-1905; Eagle Aloft: Two Centuries of the Balloon in America; and several other notable publications. Throughout his career, he has also played a major role in planning exhibitions and managing museum collections. President Clinton appointed Dr. Crouch to the Chairmanship of the First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board—an organization created to advise the Centennial of Flight Commission on activities planned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of powered flight.

 

Nick EnglerNick Engler

Nick Engler is an author, craftsman, pilot, and archaeologist. In 1997, he founded the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company, an educational foundation that draws upon the story of the Wright brothers to inspire young people and to spark youthful curiosity in science and technology. To this end, Engler manages several educational programs, including a traveling museum that brings the story of the Wright brothers to life with a nationwide touring exhibition for schools; an extensive virtual museum and web resource titled Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company and Museum of Pioneer Aviation; and the Centennial Flyer Project, a program through which young people from across the country participated in the construction of an authentic and airworthy replica of the world’s first airplane. Engler also lead a highly-successful archeology expedition to recreate and fly the six earliest Wright brothers’ experimental aircraft. Engler has authored more than 50 popular woodworking books and is a contributing editor to Aero and Popular Woodworking magazines. All the magnificent flying replicas that grace the skies of the Kitty Hawk documentary were meticulously researched and crafted by Nick Engler and his dedicated team of artisans and historians.

A VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF PIONEER AVIATIONBe sure to visit the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company. This superb web museum of pioneer aviation was founded by Nick Engler.

 

 

 

Watch this sample clip of Nick Engler describing what it is like to build replica Wright Brothers' airplanes. Get all the bonus Experts Commentaries included in our Watch It All Now price of $9.98. See all the experts clips on the All-Access Videos page found in the top menu.

 

James TobinJames Tobin

James E. Tobin is an Associate Professor of Journalism at Miami University in Ohio. Tobin is a specialist in the areas of literary journalism and narrative history. Tobin wrote  To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight (Free Press, 2003), which Publisher’s Weekly called a “detailed yet truly exciting tale…extraordinarily well-written and deeply nuanced…stunningly effective in presenting the intertwining lives of the brothers and an amazing cast of friends and competitors….” Tobin's books include  The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency (Simon & Schuster, 2013), for which he was granted a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship. Tobin’s first book, Ernie Pyle’s War: America’s Eyewitness to World War II (Free Press, 1997), won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award in biography. In 2003, Tobin edited and provided commentary for Reporting America at War: An Oral History (Hyperion), the companion volume to a two-part PBS television documentary on war correspondents in the 20th century.

 

Watch this sample clip of James Tobin talking about Orville and Wilbur's personalities both public and private.

 

Fred HowardFred Howard

Fred Howard served as a WWII bombardier and navigator in the B-25 bomb squadron made infamous in Catch 22 . He became aeronautics librarian in the Library of Congress after the war at a time when The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright were being prepared for publication by the Library's Aeronautics Division. His contributions to those two volumes include four appendices: early aviation nomenclature; the Wright wind tunnel experiments; the Wright propeller theory; and Wright airplanes and engines. After leaving the Library, he worked as editor for several publishers and government agencies, retiring in 1980 to devote his full attention to writing Wilbur and Orville: A Biography of the Wright Brothers. Published in 1987, which received a Christopher Award; was cited as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and in 1998 was published in an updated edition (Dover). In addition to appearing in Kitty Hawk, Howard was an indispensable editorial source and influential contributor to the project, and ensured a high degree of historical accuracy. Howard described his participation in the making of Kitty Hawk as “the Indian summer of [his] 50-year association with the Wright brothers' story.”

 

Watch this sample clip of Fred Howard describing the importance of photography for the Wright Brothers and their flying experiments.

 

Darrell CollinsDarrell Collins

Darrell Collins is a native of the North Carolina Outer Banks. For more than 35 years, he has worked with the National Park Service in the division of interpretation and education. The majority of that time has been at the Wright Brothers National Memorial where he serves as the Historian. He has also consulted for NASA in a series of educational programs promoting aviation and the Wright brothers to young children. A popular aviation and aerospace lecturer, Darrell is one of the world’s leading authorities on early aviation and the Wright brothers. He is the author of numerous articles and a frequent consultant for works on early aviation and the Wright brothers.

 

Leonard BrunoLeonard Bruno

Leonard Bruno was the science manuscript historian for the Library of Congress. A career civil servant, Dr. Bruno is the author of two major Library of Congress publications, The Tradition of Science: Landmarks of Western Science in the Collections of the Library of Congress (1987) and The Tradition of Technology: Landmarks of Western Technology in the Collections of the Library of Congress (1995). He was also the curator of two major exhibitions for the Library and has written five other books in the science reference field. The papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright are one of the many scientific and technical collections in the Library's Manuscript Division for which he was responsible. Dr. Bruno also worked as special assistant to Marvin W. McFarland who, years before, had edited the Wright papers. Bruno was instrumental in the digitization and exhibition of the Wright Brothers' papers and the acquisition of Carl Sagan's Papers. After more than 40 years of service at the Library of Congress, he retired in 2012.

 

Watch this sample clip of Leonard Bruno talking about a series of "provocative" letters from a woman to Orville that he found among the Wrights' correspondence at the Library of Congress. Get all the bonus Experts Commentaries with Watch It All Now.

 

Peter JakabPeter Jakab

Peter L. Jakab is an Associate Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs & Curator of Early Flight, World War I and Vietnam War Aviation at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. One of his exhibits is The Wright Brothers & the Invention of the Aerial Age, an exhibition on the Wright brothers invention of the airplane and its cultural impact in the first decade of the twentieth century. Dr. Jakab is author of The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age (National Geographic Society, 2003); Visions of a Flying Machine: The Wright Brothers and the Process of Invention (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990); and editor of The Published Writings of Wilbur and Orville Wright (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000).

 

Gary BradshawGary Bradshaw

Gary L. Bradshaw is a Professor of Psychology at Mississippi State University. A psychologist, he has long studied creativity in science and invention and has published numerous articles and books in these areas. He has performed an extensive case study of the invention of the airplane—seeking to identify the methods and techniques that distinguished the Wrights from their many competitors. Dr. Bradshaw maintains one of the world’s largest websites about the invention of the airplane, titled To Fly is Everything.

 

Watch this sample clip of Gary Bradshaw talking about three airplane experimenters who preceded the Wight Brothers—Sir George Caley, Otto Lilienthal, and Octave Chanute.

 

Ann HoniousAnn Honious

Ann Honious served as Chief of Education and Resources Management at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. As the park historian, she conducted extensive research on Wilbur and Orville Wright, especially on their lives in Dayton, Ohio. Her research was used to assist with park planning and the development of exhibits throughout the park. She is the editor of Wilbur and Orville Wright: A Handbook of Facts (Eastern National, 2001). She is currently the Chief of Museum Services and Interpretation at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

Watch this sample clip of Ann Honious talking about Orville's and Wilbur's private sides versus their public persona.

 

Stephen KirkStephen Kirk

Stephen Kirk is the author of First in Flight: The Wright Brothers in North Carolina (John F. Blair Publisher, 1995). His fifteen years' experience as editor for a North Carolina book publisher aided him in identifying local sources and stories that had previously received scant attention. Kirk’s book seeks to describe the full range of the Wrights' experiences and acquaintanceships on the Outer Banks—their experiments, their leisure pursuits, the lifesavers and other locals they met, the outsiders who came hoping to fly with them or cover them in the press. The work also presents the Wrights' trips eastward in the context of what was happening on the Outer Banks at the turn of the twentieth century. As such, the book is as much a social history as it is an account of the two original men who gave the world the gift of flight. He is also the author of Scribblers: Stalking The Authors Of Appalachia (John F Blair Publisher, 2005). Kirk's writings have also appeared in Best American Short Stories and Literary magazines.

 

Watch this sample clip of Stephen Kirk describing Orville's response when he was asked about the destructive uses of his invention during World War II.

 

Larry TiseLarry Tise

Larry E. Tise is a historian and the author of Conquering the Sky: The Secret Flights of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Due to his unique research on the lives of the Wright brothers, he was appointed Wilbur and Orville Wright Distinguished Professor at East Carolina University in 2000, a post he continues to hold. Tise is the author of more than 50 articles and books including Hidden Images: Discovering Details in the Wright Brothers' Kitty Hawk Photographs, 1900-1911 (History Press, 2005). Dr. Tise is also the founder of World Aloft, a website dedicated to the Wright Brothers.

David GarrigusDavid Garrigus

David Garrigus is a critically-acclaimed producer, writer, and director of documentary and educational programs. In his over 20 years of expert storytelling, he has received numerous awards for outstanding achievement in nonfiction programming, including Cindy Awards, Telly Awards, and the New York Festival’s Gold Medal. Garrigus is currently at work on a historical documentary series about the United States Constitution.

 

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