Recap: Uncle Adam comes to visit and takes Sender to Washington with him to watch the Wright brothers do a demo flight. Sender is anxious to speak with Orville and to tell him the truth about what happened so he can exonerate himself.

The next morning, I davened with a full heart. The sky was clear and cool with good wind conditions for flying. Uncle Adam was whistling as we headed towards Fort Myer. “Today, an army officer is going to be a passenger on the flight.”

Orville had a determined expression as he stepped into the glider. Charlie Taylor and Charlie Furnas turned the propellers and the flying machine headed down the track. It lifted slowly into the air.

Spectators stood watching, craning their necks, as the flyer headed down the track and lifted slowly. It was around 50 feet up before it began to move up into the air.

People gasped and clapped. The plane soared to 75 feet when it reached the lower end of the field and turned cleanly, then came zooming back at around 100 feet. It then circled the field three times at around 40 miles an hour.

I was watching history. It was amazing the way that flying machine took off and stayed up in the air like a bird in the sky. I stood near a tree and suddenly realized that, perched above me, was a mockingbird singing. Her song sounded soft and sweet like a flute. Could that be Melody?

On the fourth turn, as the plane headed for Arlington Cemetery, Orville slowed the flyer a bit. Then suddenly, just as the flyer flew over the ariel garage, a piece of the plane flew into the air.

“That’s a piece of the propeller,” an army officer shouted.

I felt my heart pound. Oh, no!

There was a light tapping sound in the rear of the machine. Orville slowed the engine, and it looked like he was starting to land.

He was around 125 feet up when there were two loud thumps, and we could see the plane was shaking like crazy.

I held my breath. “Please let him be all right.”

Orville shut the engine completely. He was pulling hard on the steering and lateral balance levers, but he couldn’t stop the momentum.

I closed my eyes. I couldn’t bear to watch.

The plane twisted back and forth, then plunged straight down.

Uncle Adam grasped my hand. “Oh, no!”

“Please, Hashem. Please let him be all right.”

Dust swirled near the crash site. Charlie Taylor and army men and reporters rushed to help. Three cavalrymen on horseback bounded ahead. The sound of their hoofbeats shook the ground.

Uncle Adam and I stood frozen, reciting T’hilim. Tears coursed down my cheek. What if he was badly hurt? An ambulance came and whisked the two men away on stretchers. We heard people saying it didn’t look good. As the crowd dispersed, I glimpsed Charlie Taylor standing near the wreckage. He was leaning against a tree, crying.

“I’m going to the hospital to find out about his condition. Sender, you go back to the hotel. I’ll meet you there.”

Uncle Adam trudged into the room. “It’s not good, Sender. He’s in critical condition. The army officer was killed instantly. I spoke to Charlie Taylor. He said a telegram went out to Wilbur in Paris and to his sister back in Dayton. She’s heading here now.

“Will he…”

“It’s in Hashem’s hands, Sender. We have to keep davening,” Uncle Adam said.

The next day, Uncle Adam went to the hospital, and he spoke with Katherine Wright, the Wright brothers’ sister. “He’s not in good shape. I don’t think he can see visitors yet. I’m so sorry.”

The good news was that, though it was expected to be slow, he was expected to recover.

We headed back to Bubby’s house. Uncle Adam looked at my long face and said, ”Sender, we’re not giving up on talking to them. It’s still going to happen. You could send a letter.”

I shook my head. “No, I need to speak with them and explain. I want to see forgiveness in their eyes.”

Uncle Adam had to go back home, but he told me that he planned to come back in a month and he would take me then to speak to them.

To be continued…

 By Susie Garber