AV Wroe's "birdcage on bicycle wheels" Triplane inspires playwright at MOSI

By Richard Moss | 21 February 2012
a photo of a triplane in a gallery
AV Wroe's 1909 Triplane© Via Wikimedia Commons. Photo Paul Hermans
Visitors who encounter the replica of AV Wroe’s 1909 Triplane at Manchester's MOSI are often taken aback. Its apparent frailty adds to the obvious courage of the man who built it, then clambered into it, to become the first British man to fly.

Now Wroe’s achievements have become the inspiration for a newly commissioned play by the Carnegie Award-winning writer Berlie Doherty.

Moved by the wartime plane wrecks in the Peak District, Doherty visited MOSI’s Air & Space Hall for inspiration. Here, like many visitors, she was struck by the heroism of Wroe and the early aviation pioneers.

“When I saw the Triplane I thought, 'this is what I want to write about’. It’s so fragile and wonderful - like a birdcage on bicycle wheels,” says Doherty.

“What men like Wroe did was so daring – deciding to design and make a flying machine, really believing they could do it.”
Using the flying machine as her muse, Doherty has written a magical tale, called Thin Air, about a First World War pilot with a haunting secret and an over-riding need to fly over Kinder Scout.

Directed by Joyce Branagh, Thin Air will be performed by Cotton Grass Theatre Company at MOSI on March 2 and 3. It will use theatre, projected imagery and live music to tell its ghostly tale and capture the unique landscape, heritage and mythology of the Peak District.

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