by Erin K. | | 4 Comments | Tags:

Welcome to Week 4 of the Online Book Club!

Well, we did it! We made it to the end of the Big Read book, The Wright Brothers.

In chapter nine, we find that Orville had a really serious plane crash in 1908. This plane crash left Orville with a broken leg, hip, and some broken ribs, but, unfortunately, it took the life of his passenger, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge. The death of Selfridge was the first fatality of an airplane passenger—it’s interesting to think that the Wright Brothers were responsible for the first successful manned airplane flight and the first fatality of an airplane passenger. I found this New York Times article about the crash, 100 years later, to be really interesting. Be sure to check it out if you want to read more about the repercussions of the crash.

I really enjoyed how Katharine was talked about more in this last section. I was so glad that she was able to go to France with her brothers. It was really cool to see that other people enjoyed seeing her, and she kind of became famous in her own right.

I think I was most surprised by the fact that the brothers set so many records for flight. I had no idea that Wilbur won the Michelin Cup for flying for over two hours. It was really interesting for me to learn more about all of the flying they did after Kitty Hawk—I must have missed those lessons in history class.

Finally, I really loved the part where Wilbur attached a canoe to the bottom of his plane, just in case he crashed into the Hudson River. What a straightforward solution to a problem—that seems so indicative of both brothers. They were able to think of solutions to most any problem, and they were able to rig contraptions to suit their needs. I loved the picture of Wilbur flying around the Statue of Liberty. Make sure to look for it in the last group of pictures in the book, if you haven’t already.

If you’re interested to see more of each brother’s personality, you should check out this interview by Kate Carew. Kate Carew worked for The New York World, and she was famous for her interviews and caricatures. This article was hilarious, and I especially liked the cartoons. Please make time to read it!

Finally, check out this article from PBS about Orville Wright. The article’s pictures are larger than the ones in the book, so I felt like I was able to see more detail.

I hope you enjoyed the book this month! I have to say that I loved learning more about Dayton’s history, and I now feel inspired to visit some of Dayton’s historical spots. I hope to at least see where the brothers are buried. Please let me know what you thought by leaving a comment.

Join us next month as we read Small Island by Andrea Levy. I hope to hear from you then!

4 Responses to “The Wright Brothers: Week 4”

  1. Carrol

    I have enjoyed reading this book and learning so many new and interesting things about the Wright family.

    The brothers’ work ethic impressed me so much. They accepted challenges and worked diligently to find solutions. They did not rely on someone else. They took their responsibilities seriously and sought out people and other things that would help them.

    I really liked getting to know Katharine. I, too, was so glad she could actually be a part of fulfilling the brothers’ dream. I am reading the book The Wright Sister by Richard Maurer to learn more about her.

    I was really surprised to learn about people who were trying to take credit for the first flight. I also couldn’t believe how hard Wilbur had to work to protect their ideas and achievements.

    I have to admit I was sad when I read about each family member’s death. I was sorry Wilbur died so young. I wonder what more he would have been able to accomplish in regards to things that were so important to him!

    Thanks for giving us so many good sites to visit during our discussions of the book. The article from PBS was very interesting. I also liked reading the article from The New York Times about the crash. I know the brothers would be so thrilled to see the changes that have been made throughout the years to make flying safer.

    • Erin K.

      Carrol, I am so glad that you decided to read the book about Katharine. I flipped through that book, and it seemed like it had a lot of good information and pictures.

      I, too, had a hard time reading the articles about each family member’s deaths. Even though they died so long ago, I felt a little sad thinking that I had just started to get to know them, but then I lost them. Isn’t that silly?

      I’m glad you were able to look through the extra articles! Thanks for taking the time to look through them.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the book! Thanks for commenting every week!

  2. Jane Engle

    While the Wright brothers were concentrating on improving their flying machines,others chose to make flight safety improvements their priority. The New York Times article shows the measures that were taken and resulted from crashes to arrive at today’s low level. It was fascinating to learn that U.S. airliner flights now have no major cause and are considered to be extremely safe.

    I also enjoyed the expansion of details about Katherine, her contributions to her brothers’ efforts and rise to fame in her own rite. I particularly noted that Katherine, Orville and their father marched in a Dayton Women’s Suffrage parade, showing family unity and support for the cause.

    Kate Carew’s article and cartoons allowed one to see the Wright Brothers in a more informal and personal way. Their reactions to her interview may also be explained by a mental condition the brothers may have had, discussed further in the PBS Newshour article.

    When reading about Orville’s reaction to Katherine’s announcement that she wanted to get married, I wondered why he was so opposed to it. If, however, he did have Asperger’s syndrome, as suggested by novelist Tara Staley, it would explain a lot about his behavior then and previously. If both brothers were affected by it, their reaction to being interviewed would have left them in the condition shown in the cartoons.

    • Erin K.

      I think you raise an interesting point, Jane. I read a couple of articles that suggested that Orville had Asperger’s syndrome, and that would explain some of the things like his aversion to Kate marrying and his reaction to being interviewed. I guess we’ll never know for sure, but it is interesting to think if some of his behaviors could be explained.

      Thanks for chiming in this month! I hope you enjoy the book next month!


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