Recently finished listening to the audio book narrated by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author... Audible is a great resource! Mr. McCullough goes into fascinating detail about their early lives, their supportive sister Katherine and learned father Bishop Wright. Seems David even writes using language that emulates American-speak during the early 1900s.
There is great detail about their academic research, exhaustive and careful experiments, countless prototypes and tests... even building their own small wind tunnel to test wing shapes, which they fashioned after years of watching birds in flight. The book also details their lives after that first flight through continued test flights and constant improvements. And they did it all for less than $2,000. Samuel Langley had about $70,000 of US taxpayer money at his disposal and never did produce a machine that actually flew. Look for a future post about spending money on inventing!
A reproduction of the 1903 Flyer engine the Wrights built themselves.
The brothers Wright did it all themselves too. When they got around to powering their glider, they had to design and make their own propellers. They couldn't find an engine that suited them, so they built their own.
They were singularly focused on flying too. From the book, Wilbur Wright was quoted about the newfangled automobiles that were around at the time: "He could not imagine... how any contrivance that made such a racket and had so many things constantly going wrong with it could ever have a future." However they could certainly imagine a future of powered flight, and persisted until they claimed the ultimate prize.