NOON INTO TWILIGHT
THE YEAR 1908 BROUGHT dramatic new life to aviation. In January the Wrights had not flown for over two years. The big news came from Paris, where Henri Farman stayed in the air for less than two minutes, though he did fly a complete circle. In September Wilbur shattered all records as he flew before a cheering crowd of ten thousand people for an hour and a half. He was ready for more, for his upright seating meant that he could fly at will without straining his neck. He could install a larger gas tank and stay up until his fuel ran out.
André Michelin, a wealthy industrialist, had offered a prize of 20,000 francs for the longest flight of the year. Farman was hardly in the running, holding a personal record of only forty-five minutes, but Wilbur was sure that he could fly for over two hours. He came close to that mark on December 18 and then on December 30, wearing a coat, cap, and gloves to stay warm. A day later, with the new year only hours