Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 by

Lift off is what planes do, but Julie Williams, author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1901, newly published by NewSouth Books, says she is flying sky high thanks to recent articles by Jay Reeves at the Associated Press and Dana Beyerle of the New York Times Regional Media Group respectively. Their stories on her new book have been picked up by literally dozens of papers in the last few days, ranging from the Charlotte Observer to the Zanesville Times Recorder, the Rocky Mount Telegram, to the USA Today online edition.

From the AP story:

Williams was born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and raised in North Carolina, where the Wrights made the first powered airplane flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. It seemed only natural for her to research the Wrights’ time in Alabama after she moved to the state.

“I just couldn’t resist it,” she said. “I am just driven to read Wright brothers stuff. I always have been.”

Historian George Cully of Maxwell Air Force Base, which was built on the site of the Wright school, said the brothers made some important innovations while in Montgomery, including adding a stabilizer to their airplane and making a series of nighttime flights.

“It’s a great story, and she has done a great job of mining the essential source, which was the newspaper,” he said.

Author Julie Williams is busy enthusiastically sharing the little-known story of the nation’s first civilian flight school and its reception by local newspapers in interviews and at book signings, including upcoming appearances at the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, AL on January 9, the Avondale Regional Library in Birmingham on January 26, Beehive Coffee & Books in Monroeville, AL on February 5, Samford University Faculty Shop Talk on February 16, and a Brown Bag Lunch at the Birmingham Public Library on March 31.