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R.G.'s Essay Corner

Here's an opportunity to test your literary skills with a 500-word (about two pages) essay on any aviation or aviation history topic of your choice. Have a good war story, or perhaps an interesting experience regarding aviation?

The address above is used for essays; place it also in the subject line.

We can't display every one of the essays, nor can we return them. But if your story is noteworthy, we're sure we'd all like to read it. Perhaps it's something from your aviation past; a fascinating anecdote of some kind. And just to get you started, R.G. will place one of his on the page for a short time until we have some real gems.

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It regards Orville's thoughts in 1929 about his being part of the first to fly in an airplane:

No evidence ever surfaced that corroborated the trumped up newspaper stories and affidavits which came forward of others flying before they did. No one could prove a claim that another person flew first. Sources such as letters, scientific notebooks, diaries, blueprints, and photographs of airplanes in flight might have gone far to affirm a claimant's stories. So far, no one had produced substantiated evidence sufficient to displace the Wright brothers from their widely accepted niche in history as the inventors of the first practical airplane.

Orville continued to scan the Prairie and recalled with a smile that by 1908, they had developed a practical airplane capable of carrying two people. It flew for an extended period of time, which was as long as the gasoline lasted. The brothers demonstrated their invention before large audiences, showing the skills they had learned in order to control their machine in the air. In 1909, they began to teach those skills to students. Orville knew that those two events, not their first tentative flights in 1903, marked the beginning of modern aviation as far as the world was concerned.

Within three years, aviators were flying successfully in every part of the globe. Aviation records for speed, altitude, and endurance were shattered almost daily as pilots and engineers took the Wright’s basic concepts and added their own ideas. Airplanes evolved quickly and by World War I showed only a superficial resemblance to the pioneer Wright aircraft. But they all used variations of the Wright control system, and pilots used the basic flying skills the Wrights had developed. That remained true even today, he thought, and he smiled again.

The fall of 1929 seemed a little chillier than normal. September felt a little edgy, if not downright cold. Orville noticed the twinge of coolness on his arms and face. October would show itself in only a few days. He recalled how cold the breezes blew at Kitty Hawk. The winds, the chill that seeped through to the very marrow of his bones. The exhilaration they felt when flight looked possible. The powered liftoff from the rail. The abundant, radiant joy they experienced as they finally stayed aloft for more than just a few seconds. The knowledge, the certain knowledge they’d done something thousands had yearned to do but couldn’t. The confidence that the world would change because of it.

Orville saw one of his students become the Commander at Fairfield Army Depot. It made him proud to take part in the younger man’s career. He thought to himself that the Commander would likely rise much higher in rank because he had caught the real teachings of Orville’s flight school back in 1911. An approach to life that considered nothing to be impossible. What man can dream, he can do, he thought.

He turned toward the old launching area and remembered how often he’d crashed at right about that spot. He remembered Wilbur coming over, smiling, to assure himself that his brother hadn’t been seriously hurt, nor the airplane for that matter. He recalled the embarrassment of watching the press turn their eyes away and become disinterested when their plane rose only a few feet off the ground. He remembered hearing about Thomas Huffman telling his next door neighbor the Wright brothers were fools.

Orville could say that now the world knew of the Wright brothers, although Wilbur had passed on early in his life from typhoid fever. He could say that the world had been changed drastically by what they accomplished as they escaped earthly boundaries. He could say that the world made more sense as a whole because it could now communicate on another level, in another dimension. But Orville just stood there, gazing out at Huffman Prairie, mute and reverent.

He was grateful for his part in the world taking another giant step forward. He thanked Wilbur silently for tugging him along on their myriad adventures. He deeply appreciated the open opportunity to explore that his parents had given both of them when so young. How fortunate he was to be in this spot, this moment, this breath of time.

Summer had definitely said goodbye to the year 1929. The fall already showed a predilection for the cooler side, as Orville felt a shiver go through his bones. He looked out over the grass that stayed green all year, though he knew the leaves would soon fall. Orville turned toward the sun and knew he could handle whatever might face him in the near future. Life had been good to him, he thought, as he picked up a long blade of grass and headed back to his car.                                                  R.G.

Now, let's hear from you! It's easier than you think!

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