The Wright Brothers Get a Hand From Their Sister

Siblings Season 4, Ep 6 11/01/2016 Views: 7,933

Orville and Wilbur Wright get off the ground thanks to the brains and determination of their sister, Katharine. (5:28)

Hello, I'm Lauren Lapkus,

and today we're gonna discuss

the Wright brothers

and the Wright sister.

Am I right?

- [laughing]

- Okay, so everyone'sreally familiar

with the Wright brothers.

Everyone knows about their planes

and their whole thing, but they didn't know

that there's a younger sister, Katharine.

So basically, our story begins in 1874

in Dayton, Ohio,

and basically she and Orville and Wilbur

were, like best friends, and they'd do, like,

all kinds of old-timey activities

that were fun for people then.

Like, they would collect bones

and sell them to fertilizing plants.

- Classic thing to do.

- You know, classic,like bone collecting.

And they made a pact together

that they were nevergonna get married.

Like, the brothers were like, let's not get married.

Why don't we all just, like, be together?

We'll just be, like, a unit. And Katharine's like,

maybe I'll meet someone I actually like.

Like, you guys are my brothers, and I don't really feel

like that about you guys, and I don't think I should

feel like that about you guys. And they're like,

no, no, no, no, no. Let's just stick together

and be, like, a thing.

And she's like, fine, I guess.


And then basically, like,the brothers

started getting reallyinto the idea of manned flight,

and so they're like--like, I don't care about school.

I want to work on my planes. And he's like,

I want to work on my planes too.

I want to work on planes with you.

I love you. And Katharine was like,

I believe in you.

And they didn't graduate high school.

They were just really focused on the whole plane situation,

so meanwhile, Katharine graduated

from Oberlin College in 1898,

so she was very, like, smart and successful

in her own "Wright."

- Oh, man.- I didn't want to do that,

but I had to.- Okay.


So when she graduates from college,

Orville's like, I have a present for you.

It's a diamond ring.

And she's like, okay.

Are you proposing to me, or what is it?

He's like, no, it's like a brother-sister thing.

Like, it's just, like, a ring. Like, it'll just--

it'll just be like-- it's like our pact.

And she's like, okay, that's kind of weird,

but I guess I'll wear it

until I meet someone.

He's like, no, you'll never meet anyone.

She's like, I might meet someone.

He's like, you won't meet anyone.

Oh, I just spilledall over the couch and myself.

- That's okay.- Okay.

- Moving right along.

So in 1901,

Orville and Wilbur build the Wright glider,

and they go to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina,

and they're like, we're gonna fly the first plane ever.

But then it goes really horribly.

It, like, falls apart, and it was a complete disaster,

and basically they had a horrible time.

So basically they're just like, forget this.

Like, this is a nightmare.

Like, I'm never gonna be good at this.

Not within a thousand years

will man ever fly a plane.

And Katharine's like, you guys got to believe in yourselves.

No one's ever done this.

Why would you think it would work perfectly

the first time? You have to try again,

and also let me help you,

because I'm smarter than both of you.

And so they got reinvigorated,

and basically they decided

they were gonnafly planes again, because--

- You have to drink every timeyou say "basically."

New rule.

- Okay.

So their family had, like, a bicycle shop,

and so, like, they were working in this shop,

trying out all these different ways

to make planes.

And Katharine's like, let's look at research

from other people who've done this before.

You guys aren't--you're just making it up at this point.

And so she's, like,translating from German

and all these languages, and she's like,

this says you need to fly like this.

You have to go and make the wings, like, bigger.

Make the wings, like, taller, and--

and go and believe in it more and all this stuff.

And they created a whole new plane together.

And so basically--

- Uh, you got to drink.

Basically.- Oh, shit.

Okay, so December 17, 1903,

they try it again at Kitty Hawk,

and Orville Wright fow--fowered--

[laughing]Powered the first flight.

20 feet above the ground,

and it's epic,

and I don't like the word "epic,"

but I have said it here because it's accurate.

It's a really big deal,

and they have, like, 700 successful flights.

They're up, and the they're down.

They're all over the place.

[clears throat]

So, like, Katharine fliesin the plane

for the first time ever,

and she was like,

I feel like a bird,

and birds are so happy,

and birds sing because they're happy.

So Wilbur's like, we couldn't have done it without you.

I love you.

So then, years later,

Katharine is like, all right, [bleep] this.

I'm getting married. I'm 52.

I might as well get married at this point.

I feel like the pact is over.

Meanwhile, Orville's like,

no, the pact's not done. I hate you.

I'm not gonna speak to you ever again,

and she's like, whatever. I have this dude now,

and I don't really care if you don't talk to me anymore.

And they, like, make out in front of Orville.

It's really rude.

[both laughing]

It's so dumb.

- It's really rude. - It's so rude.

Orville's like, damn, this blows.

We all have knownabout Orville and Wilbur

for as long aswe all have lived,

but if they didn'thave Katharine,

they wouldn't have hadthe belief in themselves.

They wouldn't have confidence,and they wouldn't have had

the ability to translate things to know what--

how things really work.

There's always someone else behind the scenes

who's helping people.

No, I bet that's not true.I take it back.

But sometimes there is.

- You got that right.

- You got that right.

- You got the right one,baby, uh-huh.

- Uh-huh.

[both laughing]