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February 16, 1999
QuestChat with Steve Englehart


Tue February 16 1999

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 5 - 08:52:21 ]
Good Morning the chat with Steve Englehart will begin at 10 am this morning! Please read his bio and be thinking of some good questions this morning. During the chat be sure to read all the questions asked someone else might ask a question you were planning to ask. Also read Steve's answers they might give you an idea for a new question.

[ SteveEnglehart - 10 - 10:01:38 ]
RE: [MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Good morning Steve. The students at MSOC have questions ready and we are ready to chat. Glad you are doing this chat!
I'm happy to do it.

[ SteveEnglehart - 14 - 10:06:01 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] This question is from Ypsilanti. [ All - 1 - 08:16:27 ] What made you decide to write a book about the Wright Brothers?
I like to write about history, but I specifically liked this story because it was so amazing. In the entire history of humanity, nobody had ever flown...and then they did!

[ SteveEnglehart - 19 - 10:12:03 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] [ Nick - 2 - 08:17:27 ] How did you perform your research for your book? Were you able to actually talk to people who were alive in 1903 and remember the Wright Flyer?
I did most of my research at the library, and wrote to the Library of Congress, which has most of the photographs the brothers took. I never found anyone who remembered the original flyer first-hand; he or she would have had to have been over 100 years old, and even then he or she'd have been a kid in 1903.

[ SteveEnglehart - 22 - 10:14:36 ]
RE: [Melanie-MChoate/GradeSchool] What was the first book that you wrote?
Oh boy! Three questions at once. First, for Melanie--I started writing things I called books when I was maybe 8. I'd type them out and staple hem together. My first *published* story was in a comic book--a monster story called "Pterror of the Pterodactyl!" (spelled that way on purpose. :-)

[ SteveEnglehart - 24 - 10:16:52 ]
RE: [Ronica4thMSOC-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] How did you find all this information? Have you wrote any other books on the Wright Brothers?
For Ronica-- I did what you have to do when you do reports: go to the library. I haven't written any other books on the Wright Brothers, but I wrote one on the first men to land on the moon (Countdown to the Moon). It's sort of "the other end" of the story of flight.

[ SteveEnglehart - 26 - 10:18:13 ]
RE: [Jacob-MChoate/GradeSchool] What is your favorite book?
For Jacob-- I don't have just one! I like all books. But I'm partial to tories of adventure.

[ SteveEnglehart - 29 - 10:20:04 ]
RE: [Nathan-MChoate/GradeSchool] Do you ever illustrate any of your books?
For Nathan-- I wanted to be an artist when I was growing up, but I didn't stay with it. I illustrated some comic book stories a long time ago, but now the book publisher hires a *real* artist for my books.

[ SteveEnglehart - 31 - 10:23:11 ]
RE: [Jennifer3rdMSOC-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Do you make other books for children? How old is the first plane? Do you like planes?
For Jennifer-- I've written a book about Christmas and one about Easter, and Countdown to Flight and Countdown to the Moon, and two books in a series about 13-year-old twins named Jack and Mary who travel in time, called the DNAgers. The first powered plane (that worked) was the Wright Brothers' in 1903, but people had made gliders for a very long time. I love planes!

[ SteveEnglehart - 33 - 10:25:54 ]
RE: [Chris-Chris] After your research, what did you think of the Wright brothers personally?
For Chris-Chris-- I am very impressed with them. They were just guys who got interested in something that had baffled humanity forever--without any formal training. They taught themselves everything they knew about flight, and ended up do what the experts couldn't. And more than that, their letters show they were genuinely nice guys.

[ SteveEnglehart - 35 - 10:28:14 ]
RE: [Andrea3rdMSOC-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Have you done any other books? Do you like writing books? Were the wright brothers smart? When will the book be reprinted?
For Andrea-- I love writing books. The books should be reprinted within the next few weeks, according to the new publisher. We want to get them to you as fast as we can, but the author and NASA don't do the actual publishing.

[ SteveEnglehart - 36 - 10:30:11 ]
RE: [Thelma-MChoate/GradeSchool] Where do you like to be when you write?
For Thelma-- I like my desk, which I've got set up the most efficient way for me to work. I tried writing on a Powerbook laptop once but didn't like it as much.

[ SteveEnglehart - 37 - 10:33:07 ]
RE: [Heather3rdMSOC-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Does there first plane still exist? Was the first plane made of mettle? Did the first plane have a motor? Were the Wright Brothers rich?
For Heather-- Yes it does. It's in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. No, the first plane was made on wood and fabric. It took a while before people made motors strong enough to lift metal. But the first plane did have a motor. They became rich after they invented the airplane, but before that they ran a bicycle store.

[ SteveEnglehart - 39 - 10:35:46 ]
RE: [Lauren4thMSOC-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What inspired you to write a book about the Write Brothers? How long was it before you wrote your first book?
For Lauren-- (and sorry when I forget to reply directly to the questioner, or the computer skips a letter) I wrote my first *published* story when I was 23 or 24 (I forget).

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 42 - 10:39:12 ]
At the conclusion of the chat, we ask that you take a few minutes to let us know what you thought about it. You may use our online chat feedback forms at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys to share your thoughts with us. We suggest that you bookmark this page for use with future chats. Your comments and suggestions are important to us, so we hope you will visit this location at the conclusion of the chat.

[ SteveEnglehart - 43 - 10:39:40 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] [ Jimmy - 6 - 08:26:23 ] What did the Wright Brothers learn from their crashes?
For Susan-- They learned what not to do! :-) No, they had to solve 3 problems to make their plane work: how to shape the wings, how to use a motor, and how to control it once it was up. They *thought* other people had solved the first two (then they found out they hadn't, really)--but in the beginning they concentrated on control, and learned from every crash. Fortunately, they survived their crashes. Other experimenters didn't.

[ SteveEnglehart - 44 - 10:42:31 ]
RE: [Amber5thMSOC-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] When was the first plane flown? Has a meteor hit a plane?
For Amber-- The first plane flew on December 17, 1903, so we're not too far away from the 100th anniversary. I imagine a meteor has hit a plane, but meteors are generally the size of a grain of sand by the time they get through the atmosphere, so it would only put a pin-prick in the plane.

[ SteveEnglehart - 45 - 10:45:21 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] [ Dane - 8 - 08:29:24 ] What did the Wrights' sister do in her life? Was she involved with the flyer?
For Susan-- Orville and Wilbur's sister Katherine was actually the only one of them to graduate from college. She acted as a sounding board for the brothers but she wasn't as interested in planes as they were.

[ SteveEnglehart - 50 - 10:50:22 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] [ Deb - 11 - 08:33:13 ] What was the most surprising fact or insight you uncovered about the Wrights or flying in the process of writing this book?
The most surprising fact *to me* was that my great-uncle was also trying to solve the problem--but he died in a farm accident before he could succeed. I don't know if he wold have beaten the Wrights, but it brought home that these were real Midwestern boys doing this, and not some geniuses far away.

[ SteveEnglehart - 52 - 10:53:30 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] Lonnie - How did you determine whether or not the information you gathered about the Wrights was true?
For Lonnie-- Like all reports, you have to check different sources. I generally find that *almost* everything is the same among books, but there are always some differences. Then you have to go do more research to try to decide who's right.

[ SteveEnglehart - 55 - 10:57:45 ]
RE: [Adam5thMSOC-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Have you ever written an adventure book if so what was it about? Have you ever seen the Wright Flyer replica ?was it cool?
For Adam-- I wrote comics for many years (Batman, Fantastic Four, Captain America, etc.). And I've written a few video games. But you might want to look for the DNAgers series I mentioned a while back. The twins travel in time to become their own ancestors and have historical mystery adventures. I've seen the original Flyer in Washington, and it is very cool. I have not seen the replica at NASA but I'm going to on March 3, when I'll do another of these chats.

[ MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona - 56 - 10:58:28 ]
We are looking forward to the reprinting of Countdown to Flight! Please let us know when and how to order it! Thank you very much for chatting today. We look forward to chatting with you again. :-)

[ SteveEnglehart - 57 - 10:59:08 ]
RE: [Jeffrey5thMSOC-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Did you right the book because of your uncle?
For Jeffrey-- No, but it was cool to find out about him.

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 59 - 11:00:19 ]
From Deb: Thank you for receiving our questions. We look forward to checking out your answers in the archives.

[ SteveEnglehart - 60 - 11:00:35 ]
RE: [MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] We are looking forward to the reprinting of Countdown to Flight! Please let us know when and how to order it! Thank you very much for chatting today. We look forward to chatting with you again. :-)
You're welcome, Mrs. Mock. As soon as the book is available, you'll be the first to know!

[ SteveEnglehart - 61 - 11:02:38 ]
RE: [MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Forgot to ask: Will your book about Apollo 11 also be reprinted?
For Mrs. Mock-- I would guess that because there's so much interest in Countdown to Flight, Countdown to the Moon will also return.

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 62 - 11:05:04 ]
Thanks everyone for coming to this chat today. Your questions were terrific. Come back next week for Pete Zell, and Orville and Wilbur Wright.

[ MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona - 63 - 11:05:56 ]
Thank you Susan and thank you Steve. See you soon!

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 64 - 11:07:30 ]
Steve, you have done a fantastic job answering these diverse questions. Thank you so much for your time and thoughfulness.



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