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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index W > Wilbur Wright Quotes

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Wilbur Wright
(16 Apr 1867 - 30 May 1912)

American inventor and aviator.


Science Quotes by Wilbur Wright (5 quotes)

By the death of Mr. O. Chanute the world has lost one whose labors had to an unusual degree influenced the course of human progress. If he had not lived the entire history of progress in flying would have been other than it has been.
— Wilbur Wright
Writing in Aeronautics in Jan 1911 about Chanute's death, collected in Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright, The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright: Volume Two 1906-1948 (1953), 1013.
Science quotes on:  |  Octave Chanute (3)  |  Course (57)  |  Death (270)  |  Degree (48)  |  Entire (29)  |  Flying (18)  |  History (302)  |  Human (445)  |  Influence (110)  |  Labor (53)  |  Life (917)  |  Loss (62)  |  Progress (317)  |  Unusual (13)

For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life.
— Wilbur Wright
Opening line his first letter (13 May 1900) to Octave Chanute. In Marvin W. McFarland (ed.) The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright: 1899-1905 (1953), Vol. 1, 13.
Science quotes on:  |  Affliction (6)  |  Belief (400)  |  Cost (31)  |  Disease (257)  |  Flight (45)  |  Increase (107)  |  Life (917)  |  Money (125)  |  Possibility (96)  |  Severity (5)

I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years...Ever since, I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions.
— Wilbur Wright
...
Science quotes on:  |  Avoid (34)  |  Brother (16)  |  Confess (9)  |  Distrust (7)  |  Fifty (15)  |  Fly (65)  |  Myself (22)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Say (126)  |  Year (214)

It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge & skill.
— Wilbur Wright
From his first letter (13 May 1900) to Octave Chanute. In Marvin W. McFarland (ed.) The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright: 1899-1905 (1953), Vol. 1, 13.
Science quotes on:  |  Fly (65)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Motor (10)  |  Possibility (96)  |  Skill (50)

Man, by reason of his greater intellect, can more reasonably hope to equal birds in knowledge than to equal nature in the perfection of her machinery.
— Wilbur Wright
In The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright: 1899-1905 (1953), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Bird (96)  |  Equal (53)  |  Hope (129)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Machinery (25)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Perfection (71)



Quotes by others about Wilbur Wright (4)

In honoring the Wright Brothers, it is customary and proper to recognize their contribution to scientific progress. But I believe it is equally important to emphasize the qualities in their pioneering life and the character in man that such a life produced. The Wright Brothers balanced sucess with modesty, science with simplicity. At Kitty Hawk their intellects and senses worked in mutual support. They represented man in balance, and from that balance came wings to lift a world.
Speech, quoted in Leonard Mosley, Lindbergh (2000), 347. In 1949, Lindbergh gave a speech when he received the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy.
Science quotes on:  |  Balance (43)  |  Biography (227)  |  Character (82)  |  Contribution (49)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Life (917)  |  Man (345)  |  Modesty (9)  |  Pioneer (23)  |  Progress (317)  |  Represent (27)  |  Science (1699)  |  Scientific Progress (12)  |  Sense (240)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Success (202)  |  Support (63)  |  Wing (36)  |  Orville Wright (6)

Progress may have been all right once, but it went on too long;
I think progress began to retrogress when Wilbur and Orville started tinkering around in Dayton and at Kitty Hawk, because I believe that two Wrights made a wrong.
From poem 'Come, Come, Kerouac! My Generation is Beater Than Yours', in magazine New Yorker (4 Apr 1959).
Science quotes on:  |  Kitty Hawk (2)  |  Progress (317)  |  Tinkering (2)  |  Orville Wright (6)  |  Wrong (116)

The gentleman [Mr. Taber] from New York says [agricultural research] is all foolish. Yes; it was foolish when Burbank was experimenting with wild cactus. It was foolish when the Wright boys went down to Kitty Hawk and had a contraption there that they were going to fly like birds. It was foolish when Robert Fulton tried to put a boiler into a sail boat and steam it up the Hudson. It was foolish when one of my ancestors thought the world was round and discovered this country so that the gentleman from New York could become a Congressman. (Laughter.) ... Do not seek to stop progress; do not seek to put the hand of politics on these scientific men who are doing a great work. As the gentleman from Texas points out, it is not the discharge of these particular employees that is at stake, it is all the work of investigation, of research, of experimentation that has been going on for years that will be stopped and lost.
Speaking (28 Dec 1932) as a member of the 72nd Congress, early in the Great Depression, in opposition to an attempt to eliminate a small amount from the agricultural appropriation bill. As quoted in 'Mayor-Elect La Guardia on Research', Science (1933), New Series, 78, No. 2031, 511.
Science quotes on:  |  Agriculture (62)  |  Ancestor (35)  |  Bird (96)  |  Boat (13)  |  Boiler (6)  |  Cactus (3)  |  Christopher Columbus (13)  |  Contraption (2)  |  Employee (3)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Flight (45)  |  Foolishness (8)  |  Robert Fulton (7)  |  Government (85)  |  Hand (103)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Kitty Hawk (2)  |  Loss (62)  |  Men Of Science (97)  |  New York (14)  |  Politics (77)  |  Progress (317)  |  Research (517)  |  Researcher (17)  |  Scientific Progress (12)  |  Stop (56)  |  Technology (199)  |  Orville Wright (6)  |  Year (214)

My own lifetime spans the Wright Brothers' Kitty Hawk flight and manned-satellite orbiting.
In 'The Wisdom of Wilderness', Life (22 Dec 1967), 63, No. 25, 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Flight (45)  |  Lifetime (19)  |  Orbit (58)  |  Satellite (22)  |  Space Flight (21)  |  Span (4)


See also:
  • 16 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Wright's birth.
  • To Conquer the Air : The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight, by James Tobin. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Wright Brothers History.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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