Kitty Hawk, NC. The year: 1903. The first flight of the Wright Flyer, Orville and Wilbur’s airplane. It’s maybe my favorite picture of all time.
I doubt they had any idea what they were kicking off. Amazingly, just eight years later, their idea had advanced enough that planes were being used for war purposes.
I wrote a screenplay about some of those early days of aviation. It was called “Deadly Air,” and dealt with the founding of the U.S. Airmail Service. The screenplay won a special award at a film festival. It was a treat to write, as it covered a mostly forgotten era of flying.
One of my scenes involved a pilot who takes a plane up in a thunderstorm. This was remarkably brave of him, because until that point, it had never been done! No one knew exactly what might happen to a plane in the middle of a storm. The only way to find out was to actually get up there and do it.
That kind of thinking goes for all of life, doesn’t it? It’s part of what I love — maybe, mainly what I love — about writing fiction. I’m going out there into the unknown. It’s all uncharted territory, and the exploration is what’s thrilling; even more so than finishing a book.
I’m thinking about ways to combine flying and fiction, too. Stay tuned for more on that.