Betty Darst is Katharine Wright

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Dayton Celebration Events

Katharine Wright and her Famous Brothers come to life again in the persona of Betty Geiger-Darst, a dramatist and historian who performs as Katharine in a one-woman show.

Katharine, the younger sister of Orville and Wilbur, managed many of the brothers’ affairs and was their confidant and caregiver. She was intelligent and poised and charmed presidents and Kings providing the social interface for her shy brothers. She gave them the freedom to dream, research and invent the airplane.

Darst is Katharine when she speaks to her audience dressed in a 1909 black pin stripped duster and a stylish hat with plumes that Katharine would have worn. She shares with her audience a personal view of the Wright family highlighted with short vignettes using many letters and diaries written by the Wright family and recollections by their descendents.

She has spoken to kids and adults around the world, giving 25 presentations alone during the Wright celebration in Dayton in July 2003. She has made trips from Oklahoma to Virginia to Nebraska to Massachusetts to Australia to New Zealand to France, to name a few.

In France she made several presentations at the Paris air Show and visited Pau, location of the Wrights First Flight School. There, she spoke at the city hall utilizing her command of the French language.

During December, in honor of the December 17th celebration, she hosted 37 British aviation enthusiasts in Dayton. They visited the Wright brothers’ historical sights including a trip to Hawthorn Hill where Darst portrayed Katharine on a tour of the mansion.

If you would like to experience such a tour you can via a video: “Wright at Home: A Visit to Hawthorn Hill.” Darst’s e-mail: [email protected]

In another video, her voice is heard along with Neil Armstrong and John Glenn in another great video, “Kitty Hawk: The Journey of Invention that was shown on PBS.”

Darst says her goal is to educate youngsters and adults about the Wright brothers. She is a teacher and historian and has been telling her story from the perspective of Katharine for 18 years. She says she got started, when after portraying Katharine on Public Library day in 1985, Ivonette Wright happened to be in the audience. Ivonette is a niece of the Wrights. She told Darst after the presentation, “Keep on telling the story. You are doing a good job” So she has.

Darst is a student pilot and flies as a co-pilot for her husband, Jack. Jack has flown 500 youngsters on behalf of the EAA young eagles program. Jack is also active in Dayton heritage activities including Aviation Trail and Nick Engler’s Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company.

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