While conducting research for this book, I came across a picture of an aviation pioneer, a barrel-chested man with a thick beard, standing on the top of a small shed at the summit of a hill. This intrepid soul, embedded in a framework of wood, cotton, and wire that loosely resembled the wings of a bird, was preparing to hurl himself into the sky in an attempt to fly. As I looked at the man and his flying apparatus, I was reminded of the news shorts that used to precede the featured attraction at the movies. The ones that showed those crazy men and their flying machines in fast speed, making them look like comic characters ...

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