Flying Bicycles: How the Wright Brothers Invented the Airplane

Philip N. Johnson-Laird

in How We Reason

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551330
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191701580 | DOI:
Flying Bicycles: How the Wright Brothers Invented the Airplane

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The Wright brothers took less than five years to invent a heavier-than-air craft that flew under its own power and the pilot's control. They designed and built their ‘flyer’ and its internal combustion engine. This chapter concentrates on the invention of Wright brothers. Long after they had discovered the principles of flight, others were either stealing their ideas or crashing aircraft with fatal regularity. It is argued that the Wrights succeeded because they were better reasoners than their rivals. In particular, the chapter demonstrates that they were superb in reasoning and in drawing fruitful analogies. Any attempt to reconstruct an individual's thinking is bound to be speculative, but here we have scattered clues from the brothers' writings and a theory of reasoning. The brothers also used five major analogies in their invention of the airplane.

Keywords: Wright brothers; flying; airplane; flight; reasoning; analogy

Chapter.  8078 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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