Writer educates and inspires next generation
Phyllis Moses paused a moment in her speech—something was wrong.
“It dawned on me that the kids I was talking to had blank faces,” remembers Phyllis, a writer and lifelong aviation enthusiast. “They didn’t know what aviation was, and I began to see that no matter what I said, they weren’t going to understand it,” she explains. “I asked them, ‘Who do you think invented the airplane?’ One little boy answered, ‘Mr. Boeing?’”
How could the children not know about aviation and the pioneers who dared to dream the impossible? Phyllis needed a creative way to bring aviation to them and kindle the same sense of wonder in them that she had felt as a child.
Eyes to the Sky
Puckety-puckety-puckety. The deep, chest–rattling rumble of Uncle Phil’s “Jenny” scattered tranquility as chickens and children fled from the noise. “All the other kids would run and hide under the bed when my Uncle Phil made a pass over our farmhouse,” says Phyllis. Young Phyllis, however, looked to the blue horizon as her feet raced toward the familiar sound. The sight of her uncle soaring through the sky in his Curtiss JN-4 airplane filled her with awe.
Phyllis grew up in the farmlands of the Rio Grande Valley during the 1920s and 1930s, where local pilots like her Uncle Phil made their living crop dusting over the cotton fields and citrus fruit orchards. She watched as they gracefully maneuvered over the crops and marveled at their precision flying. Phyllis basked in the excitement of watching those early planes and the pilots who dared to master the skies. Throughout her adolescence and into adulthood, she followed innovations in flight, spent time in quite a few cockpits as a navigator and occasional copilot, and surrounded herself with other enthusiasts. Aviation kindled a special passion in her heart, but nestled beside it was something else, something that made Phyllis truly come alive.
Achieving Her Dream
Writing gave Phyllis a way to dive into her experiences and observations of the world and express them on the page. She craved not only to capture the wonders around her but also to tell the stories of others. “Being around people who have had rich experiences makes me happy; that’s why I love people’s stories,” Phyllis says.
All her life, Phyllis wrote for her own pleasure, treasuring the stories and poems spilling from her fingers. But a suggestion from her husband, Brian, a retired pilot, led her writing to take off in a new direction. She’d spent a lifetime around airplanes and pilots; why not combine her passion for aviation with her love for writing?
Phyllis searched out various aviation magazines to submit to, but the way to publication was difficult. Marketing, research, and hours spent writing at the computer consumed her days. Phyllis persisted, writing on a range of subjects, from the right type of headset to aviator profiles. She drew inspiration for her writing and motivation from those who had fought to achieve their dreams—pioneers like Elinor Smith, an aviatrix who burst onto the world scene in the late 1920s with her daring stunts and record-setting feats.
“Not having a highly competitive nature, I didn’t ever want to set new [flying] records or things like that; I just wanted to write about others and their attempts to do it. I was just happy to be on the edge of it [aviation]. Just out there on the edge watching, applauding—soaking it all up,” says Phyllis.
Phyllis’s hard work paid off. Over the past few decades, she’s written dozens of articles for more than twenty-five different publications, such as Woman Pilot and Aviation History. She’s been privileged to interview living aviators and to tell the stories of famous aviators past and present.
Passing Down the Passion
For years, Phyllis geared her writing toward an adult audience who already loved aviation. But when she encountered children’s lack of knowledge about aviation, she realized a modern dilemma: The miracle of flight had been lost amidst the humdrum of commercial airplanes. Names like Jimmy Doolittle and Amelia Earhart meant little or nothing to these children. Phyllis’s solution was to write a book that captured the story behind Orville and Wilbur Wright’s historic first flight, which ignited world fascination with aviation and showed that determination can transform ideas into reality.
Phyllis’s Orville, Wilbur and Me: Magic at Kitty Hawk chronicles the Wright brothers’ journey to flight through the eyes of Joshua Morgan, a fifteen-year-old boy from Kitty Hawk. The fictional story, based on historical fact, shines fresh light on the events that unfolded over a century ago. The novel offers young readers a way to connect with these early pioneers and, Phyllis hopes, become inspired to follow their own dreams.
“My desire is for children to take away from my story the idea that it’s awesome to think about the Wrights’ dreams, their ambitions, the challenges they overcame, and the innocence of the project,” Phyllis explains. “What the Wright brothers wanted to do was prove that man could fly if the conditions were right. And they did!”
Visit Phyllis’s web site at www.wingsandstars.com to buy an autographed copy of her book and check out links to many of her articles as well as other aviation-related topics.