Neil Generates an Idea for a Book
This is the exhibit that started it all. I volunteer at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. I was thinking about becoming a docent. That didn’t happen, but the experience led to a book idea.
In early 2018 I remembered seeing a remnant of Neil Armstrong’s original wind tunnel. I couldn’t believe he did it for his senior physics project. He was only 16. I don’t think I could have done it at age 18. Neil must have been incredible!
On the far left is what’s left of the wind tunnel . . . the cover to the motor and a piece of track. That’s it!
To the right is his Boy Scout Scarf from middle school. Neil was in a troop in Upper Sandusky. When he moved to Wapak, his whole troop signed it. The wooden square is part of a generator Neil built when he was still in Upper. It’s a different project, but a great story. Maybe someday I’ll write it.
Here’s a close up of the scarf and the generator.
In April of 2018 I started a class with Mira Reisburg and the Children’s Book Academy. In the first webinar Mira asked for two opposite ideas. She said they could lead to a story. I didn’t know it then, but she was right!
I told Mira the first thing that came into my head . . . Neil Armstrong built a wind tunnel in his basement, and his mom didn’t know the details until she came down and saw it in action. Mira liked the idea, and it wouldn’t leave me alone. It grew, and it grew until I knew I had to write the story of Neil Armstrong’s wind tunnel.
In May I started to research my idea with one of the museum volunteers. He asked me about this book. I thought my idea had been taken, and that I needed to let it go.
I talked to a friend who said, maybe, just maybe, my idea was different from this one. I bought the book and discovered it was a biography of Neil Armstrong. My idea was about the wind tunnel only! What a relief!
I went to work researching Neil and his wind tunnel. I checked out books from the library. I googled websites, and I read an interview Neil did for NASA.
I discovered Neil was inspired by the Wright Brothers. Their wind tunnel is to the left, but I never found a picture of Neil’s.
Here are the only three facts I could find: 1. Neil used stovepipe, a motor, a rheostat, and a propeller. He got the stovepipe at the junkyard. 2. Neil blew lots of fuses by adding in the rheostat. 3. When Neil showed his Mom the wind tunnel, he sent her robe flying and broke a basement window.
Photo Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_brothers#/media/File:WB_Wind_Tunnel.jpg
I used those 3 facts to start writing Neil’s story at the beginning of June. I also spent the summer looking for an illustrator and for a way to publish this story. It was a busy summer!
3/29/2019 06:06:42 am
Love how your investigative nature led you to this story. Being a children’s author makes life “rich” in so many ways.
3/30/2019 05:19:19 am
Looking forward to sharing the book with students- great story!
3/30/2019 09:51:22 am
Sheila Hudson, I'm so happy to hear that! I'm hoping and praying someone beyond my family will want to read Neil's story.
3/30/2019 09:49:41 am
Sarah Glenn Fortson, you are so right! I never thought I'd be writing or writing about a wind tunnel. What a voyage!
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When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!