The summer of 1999, I took off on a wonderful three week vacation which included Niagara Falls; the Trapp family resort in Stowe, VT; FDR’s Home, Hyde Park; New York City; Teddy Roosevelt’s home, Sagamore Hill; Montauk Light House on Long Island; the Assasteague Light House in Virginia; and the Outer Banks (OBX) and all the light houses. As I drove by this huge hill with a monument, I noticed it was Kill Devil Hill, the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight. I drove by it with little interest as the Air Force Museum held almost no interest for me. After leaving Cape Hatteras Light House on the southern end of the OBX, I began feeling guilty for not paying my respects to the Wright Memorial, especially since I was living in Dayton. Instead of getting out of my car, I simply drove around it and left.

That September I was roller blading and stopped in a nearby park to rest. While sitting there, I watched a little sparrow moving about the parking lot, grabbing up little bits of popcorn or other food items. I began wondering how the little body could pick up and fly from one area to another – even a little hop here and there. A few minutes later I noticed a commercial jet flying overhead. I began questioning how that large vehicle got into the air. In the back of my brain I began hearing the voices of two boys, arguing about how birds fly and how man could fly. I realized that I was being introduced to my newest musical writing project.

I hurried home and immediately hurried to the United States Air Force Museum on the northeast side of Dayton. I purchased several books and began one of the most fascinating experiences in my life. The first working title was Twelve Seconds To The Moon which encompassed the Wright Brothers from youth through the first flight. In November 2002, a dear friend of mine (and parent of two of my students) had me listen to some of her compositors. They were phenomenal! I asked if she would like to work with me on the project and she agreed to help with lyrics and music, and would ask her good friend and colleague, Leslie Merry. They officially joined me January 2003 as I began conducting readings and workshops to see how the script flowed. Gail and Leslie immediately began offering their contributions which took the project in an entirely new direction.

Here we are – July 2005 – and the past two years have been incredible. The project no longer focuses on the Wright Brothers up to the first flight, but picks up with their story in 1908 just as they were ready to embark upon a world wide adventure, becoming, along with their sister, Katharine, the first international celebrities of the Twentieth Century. The show is about “control” and all the aspects of control in their world. The show is now appropriately titled, The Bird Let Loose.

For more reading on the Wright Brothers, I recommend some of my favorites:
The Bishop’s Boys Tom Crouch
The Wright Sister Richard Maurer
The Flyers Noah Adams
The Wright Brothers Legacy Burton & Findsen
Cooking The Wright Way Melba Hunt
Gentleman Amateurs Mark Bernstein

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