Katharine Wright was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1874. The youngest child, with four older brothers, Katharine assumed the responsibilities of running the household when her mother died. Upon returning home from Oberlin College in 1898, Katharine taught Latin and English for ten years at Steele high School, while continuing to maintain a home for her father and brothers, Wilbur and Orville. As the brothers¹ interest in flight grew, so did Katharine¹s support. She used the money from teaching Latin and Greek lessons to purchase supplies for their experiments. In 1908, she nursed Orville back to health after he crashed at Fort Meyer, Virginia. Brigadier General Frank Lahm wrote of Katharine, ³In my frequent visits to the hospital, I came to know and appreciated the sterling characteristics of this third member of the team, who was with them through the vissitudes of the early days, sharing their hopes and disappointments.²
When Orville was well enough, he and Katharine sailed to Europe to join Wilbur. Katharine had mortgaged some of her property to help Wilbur while he was involved in some manufacturing patent suits. Katharine not only provided financial support, but emotional, mental and public support as well. She helped contribute ideas to many of her brothers¹ experiments and trials in flight. A Cleveland newspaper once wrote, ³[Katharine Wright¹s] manner has the ease of born independence and her speech the directness that women get who talk things over constantly with men.² Katharine also acted as a public figure to endorse the safety of flying and the Wrights¹ aircraft. 1909, she made her first flight with Wilbur in Pau, France. This helped to demonstrate that ³if a woman could do it, it must surely be safe!².
When Wilbur died of typhoid in 1912, Orville came to depend more heavily on his sister. Orville was involved in patent suits, and letters that Katharine had written were entered into the record as their evidence. In the meantime, Katharine headed the Oberlin College Alumni Group and was later elected to the Board of Trustees of Oberlin. On November 20, 1926, Katharine married Henry Haskell, editor of the Kansas City Star, and moved to Kansas City. Three years later, Katharine caught a cold which developed into pneumonia. She died on March 3, 1929 and is buried at Woodland Cemetery between her two famous brothers. Her husband later remarked that ³her spirit, like the spirit of the fountain is untrammeled and lives forever in its sparkling waters.² It was with Katharine¹s spirit, gaiety and constant support that the Wright brothers were able to make such an indelible mark on aviation.