Orville in Country Life in America, January 1909
The exhilaration of flying is too keen, the pleasure too great, for it to be neglected as a sport. It seems to me that its use will be somewhat similar to the automobile, as far as pleasure goes; that is, that people will have aeroplanes for pleasure runs, for fresh air, and for sight-seeing—perhaps even for touring, when starting devices are either carried along, or to be found readily at stopping points. There will be races, I suppose, and contests, and many of them will be beneficial as stimulative to inventive progress, just as races and contests have improved the automobile. But the greatest development in a sporting line, as I see it, will be for the pure pleasure of flying.
Wilbur in the Cairo, Illinois, Bulletin, March 25, 1909
No airship will ever fly from New York to Paris. That seems to me to be impossible. What limits the flight is the motor. No known motor can run at the requisite speed for four days without stopping, and you can’t be sure of finding the proper winds for soaring. The airship will always be a special messenger, never a load-carrier. But the history of civilization has usually shown that every new invention has brought in its train new needs it can satisfy, and so what the airship will eventually be used for is probably what we can least predict at the present.
Wilbur in Scientific American, February29, 1908
Considered as a sport, flying possesses attractions which will appeal to many persons with a force beyond that exercised by any of the similar sports, such as boating, cycling, or automobiling. There is a sense of exhilaration in flying through the free air, an intensity of enjoyment, which possibly may be due to the satisfaction of an inborn longing transmitted to us from the days when our early ancestors gazed wonderingly at the free flight of birds and contrasted it with their own slow and toilsome progress through the unbroken wilderness. . . .
Once above the tree tops, the narrow roads no longer arbitrarily fix the course. The earth is spread out before the eye with a richness of color and beauty of pattern never imagined by those who have gazed at the landscape edgewise only. The view of the ordinary traveler is as inadequate as that of an ant crawling over a magnificent rug. The rich brown of freshly-turn earth, the lighter shades of dry ground, the still lighter browns and yellows of ripening crops, the almost innumerable shades of green produced by grasses and forests, together present a sight whose beauty has been confined to balloonists alone in the past. With the coming of the flyer, the pleasures of ballooning are joined with those of automobiling to form a supreme combination.
The sport will not be without some element of danger, but with a good machine this danger need not be excessive. It will be safer than automobile racing, and not much more dangerous than football. The motor flyers will always be somewhat expensive, as the best of materials and workmanship will be required in their construction, but there is a possibility that men will eventually learn to fly without motors, after the manner of soaring birds, which sail for hours on motionless wings. In such case the flyer would be so small and simple that the original cost would be very moderate, and the fuel expense done away with entirely. Then flying will become an every-day sport for thousands.
Orville to C. M. Hitchcock, June 21, 1917
When my brother and I built and flew the first man-carrying flying machine, we thought that we were introducing into the world an invention which would make further wars practically impossible. That we were not alone in this thought is evidenced by the fact that the French Peace Society presented us with medals on account of our invention. We thought governments would realize the impossibility of winning by surprise attacks, and that no country would enter into war with another of equal size when it knew that it would have to win by simply wearing out its enemy.
Nevertheless, the world finds itself in the greatest war in history. Neither side has been able to win on account of the part the aeroplane has played. Both sides know exactly what the other is doing. The two sides are apparently nearly equal in aerial equipment, and it seems to me that unless present conditions can be changed, the war will continue for years.