On the Wings of the Wind
A NOVEL BY RICHARD KIGEL

About the Book:

“It is a strange history. Its truth is stranger than fiction.” —Frederick Douglass, 1853

On the Wings of the WindON THE WINGS OF THE WIND tells the improbable story of history’s first successful attempt to fly. According to Josiah Brantley, born a slave in Virginia, it wasn’t the Wright Brothers who did it.

In this fictional first-person slave narrative, Josiah tells the story of Mose, an elderly slave and plantation mechanic who worked for twelve years in secret, deep in the woods under the cover of night, to build his crude ingenious flying machine.

Josiah reveals how one morning, he and two young friends, all children of slavery, mount the homemade flier and push off the mountaintop. Defying death and gravity, cruel overseers, vicious dogs and the lash, the children soar above the trees, over fields, roads and rivers to fly ON THE WINGS OF THE WIND.

The novel has a contemporary frame. The opening and closing chapters are set in today’s world of computers, high-tech gadgetry and space travel. The story begins as young reporter Maria Rossi interviews the fourth African-American woman to fly in space. Fictional Astronaut Sharon Brantley offers the startling revelation that her distant ancestor escaped from slavery on a home-made flying machine. This intrigues the reporter and the quest to verify her history making claim is on.

In a unique hybrid of reality and invention, our fictional reporter interviews real life professors, Harvard’s Dr. Henry Louis Gates and Yale’s Dr. David Blight who appear as characters in the novel.

“So much of African American history is still buried in trunks, attics, basements and closets,” Dr. Gates says near the end of the novel. “They keep finding Mayan cities and tombs of pharaohs. They’ve got to find more manuscripts from black people in the 19th century. I’m confident of it. It’s just the way it has to be.”

Blending fiction and history, science and fantasy, ON THE WINGS OF THE WIND is a whimsical, high-spirited adventure through the darkest corners of our American past, a celebration of ingenuity and perseverance, a triumph of the human spirit.