The Wright BrothersSo as it turns out, Eli 13.9 and the Wright Brothers have something in common.
I'm reading an entirely fascinating book called The Wright Brothers (it's by David McCullough, who is money), and I've reached the point where Wilbur and Orville go to France to demonstrate the airplane. Check out this passage:
Greatest by far was the spectacle of seeing so many -- children, men, and women of all ages -- playing with "diabolo," a simple, age-old toy that had lately become the rage. It consisted of a wooden spool the shape of an hourglass and two bamboo sticks about two feet in length, joined by a string four to five feet in length, and it cost about 50 cents. The player would slip the string around the spool, then, a stick in each hand, lift the spool from the ground and start it spinning and by spinning it faster, keep it balanced in the air. It was because the spool would so often fall to the ground, until the beginner got the knack, that it was called "the devil's game." It had originated in China a hundred years or more earlier, and to the brothers it was irresistible. Apparently the brothers caught on quickly to the diabolo art and become quite good at it.
Finding out that the diabolo was all the rage in France in the first decade of the twentieth century is entirely fantastic.
On the actual subject of flying, let me recommend this book absolutely and completely. It is tremendously well-written and entirely entertaining.