I have a short piece over at Hush Kit about the Wright Brothers Patent War (tip of the hat for “Those litigious men in their flying machines”):
Modern military aviation began just as industrialisation began to overtake war. The successful first flight of the Wright Flyer in December 1903 was a magnificent engineering achievement, especially given the limited resources available to the Wrights. The brothers moved aggressively to counter anyone who used anything approaching their system of guidance, which they interpreted broadly to mean anything that changed wing surface in order to affect manoeuvrability (for more, see Lawrence Goldstone’s Birdmen). The Wrights hoped that the United States government would come through with a big cash payment for rights to the machine, and in fact refused to even demonstrate the flight in front of large audiences out of fear of theft.