Did you know today is Wright Brothers Day? Orville and
Wilbur Wright are arguably the most famous Daytonians. I mean, just think about
how many places in our area bear their name sake: Wright State University,
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and Wright-Patt Credit Union to name a few.
Dayton has been classified as a National Aviation Heritage Area maintained by
the National Park Service. I am sure you have seen the signs while driving
downtown on interstate 75. I think it is great to live in an area with so much
On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made their first flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. On September 24, 1959, in honor of their aviation accomplishments, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared December 17 to be Wright Brothers Day. You can see that famous Kitty Hawk airplane at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. Actually, Orville left the plane to the museum in his will. You can see the 1905 Wright Flyer III at Carillon Historical Park’s Wright Brothers Museum. The museum has the most Wright Brothers artifacts on display in the world.
Before the invention of flight, the brothers built bicycles for a living. If interested, you can visit the Wright Cycle Company Complex in Downtown Dayton. The complex is home to the Wright Cycle Company, where the two housed their bicycle business from 1895 to 1897. Manufacturing the cycles allowed the brothers to gain valuable mechanical experience and financial resources needed to complete the airplane.
After their successful flight in 1903, the brothers began looking for a flying field closer to home. Dayton banker Torrence Huffman allowed the brothers to use a portion of his property. In 1904 the pair made 105 flights for a total of 49 minutes with the 1904 Wright Flyer II. In 1905, they were able to fly for a total of 262 minutes with only 50 flights. In 1910, the brothers created a flying school on the field, but later left in 1916. Today the field is located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. You can find information on visiting the field here. For the longest time I drove past this on my way to Wright State and had no idea what it was!
You may be surprised to know the invention of the airplane didn’t exactly make the Wright family rich. Don’t get me wrong, they lived comfortably in Oakwood, but they didn’t make as much as I thought. It is estimated their Oakwood home would cost approximately $700,000 to build today. Known now as Hawthorn Hill, the Wright family home is available to visit.
Finally, you can visit the Wright brothers’ graves because they are buried right here in Dayton. They are placed in Woodland Cemetery, not far from Carillon Park. There is an entire Aviation Trail dedicated to not only the Wright brothers, but also all the achievements in aviation that happened in our area.