Synopses & Reviews
A remarkable story filled with dreamers, inventors, scoundrels, and pioneering pilots, First to Fly
recounts North Carolina's significant role in the early history of aviation. Beginning well before the Wright brothers' first powered flight at Kill Devil Hill in 1903, North Carolinians labored at the cutting edge of aviation technology from the late 1800s through World War I.
North Carolina was a launching ground for real and imaginary ballooning adventures as early as 1789. Powered experiments, including what seems to have been America's first airplane, gained momentum in the late nineteenth century. Tar Heel mechanics and inventors also built a dirigible and, arguably, the world's first successful helicopter.
Tom Parramore's account of the Wrights' experiments and turn-of-the-century Dare County provides new information on the crucial role of Outer Bankers in ensuring the Wrights' success. Without this aid, he argues, it is unlikely that the miracle of flight would have first been achieved in 1903--or in America. After 1903, growth in the new aviation industry, spurred by World War I, outpaced North Carolina's ability to play a major role. But the state produced some of the most notable airmen and women of the era, furnishing hundreds of pilots to the war effort.
"Parramore easily achieves his goal of convincing the reader that North Carolina and North Carolinians played a considerable role in the early history of flight. (Thomas D. Crouch, Senior Curator, National Air and Space Museum)"
"A delight of Thomas C. Parramore's First to Fly
is its movement from one good story to another, its lack of aeronautical jargon, and its dependence on character and tale to offer engaging history.
(Clyde Edgerton, Raleigh News and Observer)"
Parramore traces how dreams of flight became a reality in our state around the turn of the 20th century. . . . Thoroughly researched.
"While First to Fly
will certainly appeal to aviation buffs and devotees of North Carolina history, it is also a fascinating tale of American ingenuity, bravery, and determination.
"This remarkable local history begins not with Icarus, but with an Indian conjuror named Roncommock, who was reported to fly in Bertie County in the early 1700s. Parramore continues his eventful account of flight from 1700 till 1930 in his home state with dozens of lesser- and better-known figures and their generally lesser-known aeroplanes. (Leonard E. Opdycke, publisher of WWI Aero and Skyways)"
About the Author
Thomas C. Parramore is professor of history emeritus at Meredith College in Raleigh and author, most recently, of Norfolk: The First Four Centuries.