So, word was going round that over at Kill Devil Hills two insane brothers were going to be attempting powered flight.
“Hey, that’s strictly for the birds!” I quipped.
Nobody laughed, and I ended up with the damned assignment.
But when a girl from London, England is trying to make her way in the States she has to make the most of her opportunities. I took a bus out to the dunes. No-one was around, but I found the place. Hard to miss it when the aircraft was there ready and waiting.
I took the opportunity to examine this right-angled dragonfly. It was a splendid bit of workmanship I have to admit, and I clambered up to the upper wing to get a closer look. The engineering wasn’t my area of expertise but I admired the beauty of its design; the elegance of its construction. I really became quite engrossed.
In fact it was quite a while before I noticed my dragonfly was in flight.
I looked down to see a gentleman at the controls.
“Sir!” I called. “Sir!”
The gentleman looked up and around, and when he saw me horror crossed his features.
Natural, of course. We hadn’t been formally introduced.
“Prudence Goodings of the Kitty Hawk Post!” I yelled.
“Orville Wright!” he called back. He turned his head to the left. “Wilbur! Wilbur!”
I turned my head too and watched as another gentleman ran alongside the aircraft, waving and shouting. Eventually, and with no small effort, he managed to pull himself up next to me.
“Wilbur Wright!” he declared. “Are you all right, ma’am?”
I was able to assure him that I was but he gallantly insisted on offering me a nip of bourbon from his hip flask. Happily I had something even stronger at hand in my flask and we shared a cup of good English tea as his brother flew on.
The tea began to relax Wilbur, and we chatted of this and that as we attempted to avoid falling to our deaths. The story of my tricycling trip around Norfolk went down particularly well, and encouraged Wilbur to call down to his brother.
“Hey, Orville! How about letting the lady have a try at this machine?”
I protested but before I knew it, I was at the controls, with Orville behind me giving directions!
I felt like a goddess! I was flying through the air! At almost ten feet above the ground!
All too soon though I had to relinquish the controls and return to Wilbur on the wing. He seemed overcome by my exploits but eventually managed to bashfully ask if I’d ever considered joining ‘The Ten Foot High Club’: some kind of aviation association I assume. I was deeply touched. However I had to refuse his offer with the explanation The Lady Journalists of North Carolina were already taking up a fair bit of my time.
He seemed impressed I thought.
We shared the last of the tea and I broke out the salmon sandwiches. The devilled eggs may have been a mistake though because at that point I appear to have passed out.
Eventually I woke in the dunes with no sign of the Wrights or their flying machine.
Wild times. Wild times.
Craziest twelve seconds of my life.