Meeting Mr. Wright

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The Wright Story 

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In Their Own Words

art O. Berg was a native of Hartford, CN who had become an agent in Europe for new American technologies and designs of firearms, bicycles, and automobiles. In 1907, he was engage by Flint & Company of New York to sell the Wright brothers' airplane. After meeting Wilbur for the first time on 26 May 1907, he reported back to Flint. Note that Berg betrays a distinct frustration in his inability to pin Wilbur down on any one course of action, but is overall impressed with Mr. Wright.

At 12:30 yesterday I met Mr. Wilbur Wright at Euston Station. I have never seen a picture of him, or had him described to me in any way, still he was the first man I spoke to, and either I am a Sherlock Holmes, or Wright has that peculiar glint of genius in his eye which left no doubt in my mind as to who he was. . . . He arrived with nothing but a bag, about the size of a music roll, but mildly suggested he thought it might be advisable for him to buy another suit of clothes. I fortunately found a shop open in the Strand, for it was Saturday afternoon, and fixed him up, at least for evening wear, as he came to the conclusion that he'd "guess he'd better have a swaller-tail coat." We spent, the entire afternoon together. 

The company idea did not seem to please him very much, as he first wanted to know himself exactly what the attitudes of the several governments were. After a long talk,  I believe – please note that I say distinctly "I believe" – that I made something of an impression as regards the impossibility of getting any sort of action in the near future from any government. He agreed that he did not think the British Government would do any business. He also stated that perhaps it would be very hard to do anything with the French Government, as the French were so chauvinistic that their specialist officers in Commission would probably turn down the suggestions of even the Minister of War. There was only the German Government left, and even there I assured him that the government would do nothing, but we must look to the power greater than the government, that is, the Emperor himself. I proceeded to explain to him that even if the Emperor did recommend a full examination of his apparatus I was fearful that the Aeronautic Officers in the German Army would be apt to put all sorts of difficulties in the way, and I was fearful that it would be a long winded affair. 

About 5 o'clock in the afternoon, I think – you will distinctly note that I say "I think" – I brought about some sort of action in his mind, and think he was on the point – you will note that I distinctly say that "I think he was on the point" – of veering around from the government to company methods. I told him further that I had made an engagement to take him to see Deutsch [de la Meurthe] on Tuesday, and that Deutsch had stated that he wished to see Wright before anyone else saw him. I think he agreed – you will note that I distinctly say "I think he agreed" – to go to Paris with me Monday. I am to see him again at 1 o'clock today, Sunday, and I think I shall be able – you will kindly note that I distinctly say that "I think I shall be able" – to get a more distinct expression from him of what he wants than resulted in my efforts of yesterday. 

He made the argument that if we offered to private individuals at present, and our overtures were refused by them our chances with the governments would be greatly diminished. I could not agree with this. I think just the contrary, that we must not go so far with governments as to get an absolute negative from them, otherwise our chances in organizing a company would be diminished, as we could not offer the hope that the company would get government business. The idea being refused by private individuals would have no influence on governments, but being refused by governments would have a great influence on private individ­uals. I think Mr. Wright eventually looked at it in this light — you will note that I distinctly say that "I think Mr. Wright, etc.” 

I am much pleased with Wright's personality. He inspires great confidence and I am sure that he will be a capital Exhibit A.

Hart O. Berg talking to Wilbur Wright, The two eventually became fast friends. Wilbur gave Berg's wife Edith the honor of being the first woman to fly in a Wright airplane. And when Wilbur adopted a stray dog during his long stay in France during 1908 and 1909, Berg and Edith gave the dog "Flyer" a home when Wilbur returned to America.

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"Aviation is proof that – given the will – we can do the impossible."
 Eddie Rickenbacker



The Wright Story/Showing the World/Hart O. Berg Meets Wilbur Wright

Part of a biography of the Wright Brothers
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