"They were considered cranks because everyone knew that flying was impossible." Untrue....[LANA: take rest of text from print sidebar]
"They were simple bicycle mechanics who got lucky." Untrue. Although self-taught, they added "felicitous strokes of inventive talent" (to borrow a phrase from Sir Peter Medawar) to technical skill and rigorous research and development.
"They cheatedtheir flyers didnt take off under their own power." Untrue. Their 1903 flyer took off unaidedalthough it used a launch track and a wheeled carriage instead of attached wheels and a runway. Later versions used a catapult as a launching aid. This argument is true only by narrowly defining an airplane as a machine that takes off with attached wheels.
"They werent the first to fly." True. They were the first to fly a powered, heavier-than-air machine in controlled, sustained flight; "it flew forward without losing speed and landed at a point as high as that from which it started." [can cut from here] The first heavier-than-air flight was a short glide made in 1849 by an unnamed boy in Englishman George Cayley's glider. The first powered flight was by Jules Henri Giffard, who flew a balloon propelled by a steam engine over the city of Paris in 1852.
"They were 20 years ahead of anyone else." Untrue. The runner-up in the race to fly, Alberto Santos-Dumont, worked independently of them and made his first flight only three years after the Wrights did.
"They gave the world the airplane." Untrue. They invented it, then kept it under wraps until they could sell it. Alberto Santos-Dumont, on the other hand, refused to patent his inventions and gave away his results for free. --D.S.