There are some interesting stereotypes about aviators. No matter the generation there will always be the debonair aviators, the heroes, the adventurers and thrill seekers. There’s also the “Maverick”, memorialized in the minds of many would-be aviators from the 1986 cult aviation movie, Top Gun. But these stereotypes aren’t shunned by those men and women who gaze skyward at the sound of propellers or jet engines pushing tin over the horizon. No, we embrace these stereotypes because they more or less tell a story of who we are as a community.
As a community, aviators are as diverse as the stories they tell and the adventures they seek! As we look back at the Wright Brothers we see many of the same stereotypes were lived out daily by this adventurous duo. To a degree we can relate these brothers to the same types of adventurers who now post their many amazing feats on Youtube. Wilbur enjoyed bicycle racing, together the brothers were amazing entrepreneurs, they embarked on building a house together, they dabbled in print media, and embraced photography to capture so much of their aeronautical exploits. Could you imagine how they would have thrived using todays social media and wireless technology! Imagine what Orville and Wilbur would have done with a GoPro in hand…not surprisingly Wilbur did take a "GoPro-style" video during some of their early flights (see 1909 flight - Wilbur in Germany)!
So what else can the Wright Brothers teach us about their varied and interesting lives? Aside from working on hull designs for Wight Model G Aero Boat we find that Orville also enjoyed leisure boating as well! The Wright Brothers were inseparable team and with Wilbur’s passing Orville remained depressed and disillusioned. At the urging of his sister Katharine, Orville agreed to retreat to Canada’s Georgian Bay shore. In 1931 Orville writes to his housekeeper Carrie on his decision to purchase his second boat, a Gidley Two 66. On August 8, 1931 Orville placed a deposit on a similar but larger 32’6” Gidley Day Cruiser, an unused water taxi retrofitted to the exact specifications as the Gidley Two 66 with Navy Top. His friends at Georgian Bay had conspired to get Orville to name his boat. After many suggestions the group of friends settled on “KITTY HAWK” after the place which had brought about the Wrights’ place in aviation history. The letters were mailed to Carrie and presented to Orville as a Christmas gift. Not willing to reject the gift Orville sent the letters to the Gidley Company in Penetanguishene to have them installed. (Johnstone, 2011)
What is even more amazing is that this boat is still in existence and in working order! The boat was restored in 1975 by Greavette Boat Works for Guy and Katherine Johnstone. See the pictures below and share the beauty and craftsmanship of this historic watercraft and help keep the Wright’s story alive!
By: J.L. Manresa