The Right Wright To Know About: Mother Of Aviation
Most of us are familiar with the Brothers Wright – the two men who changed the history of aviation forever and are rightfully remembered as the fathers of aviation. While they were the ones who gave humanity the gift of flight, very few know about a woman who was vital in making it all happen. This mother’s day, Skycop, the flight claim compensation company that fights for passenger rights, chose to shine a light on the woman who should be known as “the Mother of Aviation” – Brothers Wright’s sister Katharine.
There have been many rumors about Katharine’s talents and contributions to the invention of flying machines, but she always denied many of them. So what was true - and what was just the talks?
TRUE: She had to look after her brothers since a very young age
Katharine Wright became the woman of the Wright house at a young age of 15 after her mother, Susan Catharine Wright, died. The youngest of the family took over the responsibilities of the household and was the one to look after her two older brothers, the famous-to-be Orville and Wilbur, when their father, Milton Wright, went off on long business trips.
Throughout her life, she was by her brothers’ sides, nursing them back to health when sickness and plane crashes bedridden them.
FALSE: She helped with the mathematical calculations involved in designing the aircraft
While Katharine was the only child in their family to finish university, graduating from Oberlin with a bachelor's degree, she was not interested in designing the aircraft her brothers worked on. Katharine was a teacher and worked until 1908, when a Wright airplane piloted by Orville crashed and left her brother close to death.
FALSE: She financed her brothers’ experiments
Many sources claim that Katharine was the financier of Wright Brothers’ work, but in reality, she wasn’t. Well, not directly, anyway. After graduating from university, she not only began teaching, but took over the managing of her brothers’ bicycle shop, allowing them to give all their time to aviation. Katherine was also funding their endeavors at the same time as the Wrights didn’t want any outside investors in their business.
TRUE: She represented brothers in public
When the Wrights went to Europe in 1907, the outgoing and likeable Katharine became the social representative of her brothers. She corresponded with newspapers and magazines for them and answered queries for scientific information, screened business offers and politely handled cranks.
After Orville recovered from a plane crash in 1908, they both traveled to France to meet Wilbur for a promotional tour. While Orville and Wilbur could design their plane without interacting much with people outside their family, their social isolation made selling the project impossible, so Katharine had to step in again.
Katharine made a great impression on the European public. The only Wright to speak French, she dominated the social scene, landing invitations to exclusive dinners, including the Aéro-Club de France, where she was reportedly the first woman ever in attendance.
TRUE: She was involved in Wright Company business
When the Wright Company was formed in 1909 to manufacture airplanes, Katharine became an officer in the company and was secretary of the executive committee.
TRUE: A trophy was named after her
In 1981 The Katharine Wright Memorial Trophy was established by the Gates Learjet Corporation and is given annually to an individual who has contributed to the success of others, or made a personal contribution to the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation and space flight over an extended period of time.
Through the years, history failed to notice women who were and still are worth knowing and it’s time to change that. While all the kudos for creating the first flying aircraft go to Orville and Wilbur Wright, it would have all gone nowhere without Katharine. Her devotion for their family, support and social skills paved way for the brothers to give humanity the gift of flight. And that’s why Katharine Wright is the Mother of Aviation.
How well do you know the airports across the globe?
How well do you know the world’s airports? Take this week’s AeroTime quiz and put your knowledge to the test...
The story of Qantas: from Queensland to the world
On November 16, 1920, three WW1 veterans, founded ‘Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd’, b...
On this day: The crash of Continental Airlines flight 1713
On November 15, 1987, Continental Airlines flight 1713 crashed upon take-off from Stapleton International Airport in Den...