Flying Machines | A Guest Post by Alison Wilgus and Molly Brooks

First Second Books announced last week that they are publishing a new series next year called Science Comics. To celebrate this fantastic news, Alison Wilgus and Molly Brooks agreed to take over my blog for the day to discuss the volume they are working on about flying machines. Thank you, Alison and Molly!

"No format is better suited than comics to breaking down complex information and making learning fun. And so we’re proud to announce our all-new series: Science ComicsScience Comics’ combination of eye-grabbing art and informative scientific facts will make this series an irresistible choice for kids and educators alike, encouraging its readers to think critically about the science in the universe around them. The study of science is an essential part of a child’s educational development, and Science Comics will get kids excited to learn." Gina Gagliano, Associate Marketing and Publicity Manager at First Second Books 

Five Interesting Facts About Flying Machines

Alexander Graham Bell, known to most of us as the inventor of the practical telephone, was also an early supporter of aviation with a particular fondness for kites. One of his largest kites, the “Frost King,” was made of 1300 red silk cells and could lift a man into the air.

The third secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, Samuel Pierpont Langley, spent $70,000 on his piloted “aerodromes” only to see them both crash into the Potomac River. By contrast, the Wright Brothers spent a little less than $1000 on developing their own flying machine, which they paid for with their bicycle business.

The first living passengers of a hot air balloon were a sheep, a duck and a rooster, all suspended in a cage beneath a Montgolfier Brothers creation made of varnished taffeta in 1783. The balloon rose to a height of approximately 1500 feet, was tipped over a little in the wind such that the hot air was able to escape, and settled gently back to the ground.

The Wrights weren’t the only bicycle makers with an interest in flight. Another was Frenchman Paul Cornu, whose twin-rotor helicopter was the first rotary-wing aircraft to fly on its own while carrying a passenger in 1907.

The Wright brothers’ interest in flying machines was spurred by their mother – the top mathematician in her class at Hartville College. 

In Flying Machines, Katharine Wright — sister to Wilbur and Orville — guides us through half a century of innovation as scientists and engineers risk their own lives in their struggle to master heavier-than-air flight. With charm and wit, Katharine enlists the help of early aviators to show how their hard work, scientific insight and personal enthusiasm propelled the world of flying machines from simple one-man gliders to powerful jet engines in only sixty years.

Alison Wilgus is a bestselling writer for comics and prose. In addition to her projects with First Second Books, Wilgus’ comics work has been published by DC, Del Rey, Dark Horse and Bongo Comics; her prose has been featured on Strange Horizons and VICE Magazine; and she has also done animation screenwriting for Cartoon Network. She lives in Brooklyn.

Molly Brooks is a highly-sophisticated disaster machine fueled by green tea and jelly beans. Her illustrations have appeared in The Village Voice, Time Out New York, The Nashville Scene, The Riverfront Times, The Toast, BUST Magazine, ESPN social, Sports Illustrated online, and others. She spends her spare time watching vintage buddy cop shows and making comics about knitting, hockey, and/or feelings.


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