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he Wright family were among the pioneers who settled the Northwest Territory in the early nineteenth century. Their great-grandfather, Dan Wright, brought his family to Ohio in 1814 and bought a piece of land adjacent to the new National Road in what is now Miami County, just north of Dayton, OH. Dan's son, Dan Jr. moved to Rush County, Indiana where his son Milton – the father of the Wright brothers – was born. Milton became a preacher in the United Brethren Church, then was promoted to edit the Religious Telescope, published by the United Brethren in Dayton. Milton would have other church assignments that took him and his family elsewhere, but they always came back to Dayton. In 1884, the Wright family – including Orville and Wilbur Wright – moved to Dayton permanently. Both Orville and Wilbur were life-long residents from that moment.

Because of their long history with Dayton, there are many places in Dayton that can claim some involvement with the Wright brothers. We've listed a few here that will be of most interest to aviators, historians, and scholars.

Up for a virtual expedition? With each of these locations we offer the option "Click HERE to visit..." This is a link to a KMZ file or placemark in Google Earth. When you click on the link, a box will appear asking if you want open, save, or cancel the file. Choose "Open" to run Google Earth and view the file immediately. Choose "Save" if to save the placemark and view it later. Note: You must have Google Earth installed to follow the placemark. If you do not already have Google Earth, go HERE.
Dayton fairly oozes with pioneer aviation history. This, for example, is the Centre City Building at 40 South Main Street. It was built on the site of the United Brethren publishing business where Bishop Milton Wright once worked. In 1910, the Wright Exhibition Team – the "Wright Fliers" who demonstrated Wright aircraft – rented an office on the thirteenth floor.

One of the most poignant and creative memorials to the Wright brothers in Dayton are these "bowler benches" created by sculptor David Black. Nine were cast and placed at various locations around the city such as Woodlawn Cemetery and the Dayton Engineers Club. The inscription reads "Dedicated to the immortal spirit of Wilbur and Orville Wright."

Carillon Park

1000 Carillon Boulevard, Dayton, OH 45409

After World War II,  Industrialist Edward R. Deeds, the founder of Delco and the Dayton Wright Airplane Company, began to collect historic buildings and artifacts from Dayton's industrial past. His goal was to create a "walking village," much like Ford's Greenfield Village, that would showcase Dayton's contributions to science and technology, in particular, transportation. In 1946, he asked Orville Wright if he could contribute a Wright aircraft or build a replica. Orville retrieved the remains of the 1905 Wright Flyer III from Zenas Crane of Pittsfield, MS who had salvaged the airplane in 1914 and former Wright Company employee, Harvey P. Geyer, was hired to head the restoration. The restored aircraft was unveiled in 1950 and is now a National Historic Landmark. It rests in the Wright Brothers Aviation Center on the Carillon Park campus. Visitors enter the Center through a replica of the old Wright bicycle shop at 1127 West Third St. and walk through a history of the Wright brothers from  their days as bicycle manufacturers to Wilbur's triumphant flight around the Statue of Liberty in 1909. The Flyer is nicely displayed in what the docents call the "Pit," which allows you walk all around the Flyer and inspect it from slightly above.
  • CLICK HERE to visit Carillon Park in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the Carillon Park web site.
  • CLICK HERE to take a virtual tour around the Pit and see the 1905 Wright Flyer III from every angle.
View Carillon Park in a larger map.

This is the Wright Brothers complex in Carillon park, providing a walk-through history of the Wrights from 1897 to 1909.

The shop windows of the replicated Wright Cycle Company. You enter the complex through the door of the bicycle shop.

The 1905 Wright Flyer III in the "pit" in Wright Hall. The box in front of the left wing is the Wrights' tool chest.

Dayton Engineers Club

110 East Monument Avenue, Dayton, OH 45402

In 1914, Dayton was a leading industrial city, the "city of a thousand factories." It actually led in one important category -- innovation. More patents per capita were filed in Dayton than anywhere else in the world. Edward Deeds, one of the founders on Delco (later part of General Motors), and Charles Kettering, inventor of the electric starter for automobiles, led a small group of engineers who called themselves the "Barn Gang" and met on Deeds' property to share ideas. Realizing the need for a more formal structure, Deeds suggested forming an "engineers club." The Barn Gang adopted the idea and by 1918 had a handsome clubhouse overlooking the Great Miami River. Orville Wright, who was the president of the club at the time, gave a rare public speech when the doors were opened. Orville also contributed some important Wright artifacts, among them Wright Engine No. 3 (built in 1904) and Orville's Pilot's License No. 1. Both are on display in the Club. The Club also owns the only know recording of Orville Wright's voice. It's a video about the founding of the Engineers Club and he says just a few words to Deeds and Kettering. And right next door to the Club is an awesome monument showing Orville and Wilbur flying the 1905 Wright Flyer III.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the Dayton Engineers Club in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE for the Engineers Club of Dayton web site.

View Dayton Engineers Club in a larger map.

The front of the Dayton Engineers Club. The building is located just a few feet away from where the first settlers – among them the Wright brothers' great-great-grandmother – first stepped ashore from the boat that brought them upriver to Dayton.

Just next door to the Engineers Club is a life-size statue of the 1905 Wright Flyer in flight. Wilbur is the pilot while Orville runs along beneath the aircraft,

Wright Engine No. 3, on display upstairs in the Dayton Engineers Club, along with other artifacts from famous inventors, scientists, and businessmen who were members of the club.

Dayton Metro Library

215 E. Third Street, Dayton, OH 45402

In 1948, When Orville Wright died, the executors of his estate had many of his papers moved to the main branch of the Dayton library in downtown Dayton. Currently the library houses over 9800 items related to the Wright brothers which, according to their own web site, "illuminate the Wrights' place in aviation history and in the hearts and minds of their fellow Daytonians." Some of the most interesting pieces in this collection are the annual minutes of the "Ten Boys Club," an informal best-friends-forever tontine that included the three older Wright brothers, Reuchlin, Lorin, and Wilbur, (Orville was too young to join.) Because the minutes include personal news about each of the members, you can see how each young man made his way through life. The collection also includes an in-depth account of the Dayton homecoming celebration which welcomed the Wright brothers and their sister Katharine back from their triumphant tour of Europe in 1909. Scrapbooks and postcards describe the most minute details, including schedules of parades, receptions, award ceremonies, fairground exhibitions, speeches, and fireworks. There is even a biography of the man who orchestrated the event, Henry Kabierske, a professional event designer who had once worked for the King of Prussia.  In addition to this rich collection, the library also has most of the Dayton and Dayton area newspapers, either on microfilm or digitally scanned. You can read for yourself the reaction of the Wright brothers' neighbors to their accomplishments as events unfolded.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the Dayton Metro Library in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE for the Dayton Metro Library web site, History and Genealogy section.

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The  Third Street Entrance to the Dayton Metro Library.

A statue of President William McKinley in Cooper Park behind the library. McKinley is one of seven Ohioans to make it to the White House.

The minutes of the annual meeting of the Ten Dayton Boys Club from 1900, showing the status of Reuchlin, Lorin, and Wilbur Wright. Wilbur was in fact absent from the meeting; he was on his first trip to Kitty Hawk, NC.

Deeds Point

510 Webster Street, Dayton, OH 45404

Deeds Point is a small park at the confluence of the Great Miami and Mad Rivers, overlooking downtown Dayton, Ohio. It is the southernmost tip of what used to be McCook Field,  the very first experimental airfield and laboratory where the Army Air Corps began to push the edge of the flight envelope. Opened in 1917, this small airfield was the site of many important aviation advances, including instrument landings, emergency parachutes, night flight, even crop dusting. Orville Wright did some innovative work here, consulting on aircraft engineering and helped to create the military's first comparative survey of air foils. Curiously, the monument at Deeds Point commemorates none of these things and barely mentions McCook Field. Instead, the focus is on an event that happened several miles away in 1899. Life-size bronze figures of Wilbur and Orville Wright re-enact the moment at which Wilbur shows Orville how to twist the wings of a biplane, causing it to roll. Orville twists a small cardboard box while Wilbur walks him through the concept. This was the "inner tube box experiment,"  the very beginnings of the  aerodynamic control system now used by most aircraft. Wilbur discovered this phenomenon, then showed it to his brother in their bicycle shop at 1127 West Third Street. Said bicycle shop was carted off to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan in the 1930s. Ever since, the spot at 1127 West Third Street has been a vacant lot in sad need of a monument – just like this.
  • CLICK HERE to visit Deeds Point in Google Earth.

View Deeds Point in a larger map.

Orville and Wilbur at Deeds Point, facing the Dayton skyline across the Great Miami River.

A close-up of the two statues. Orville tries to twist the box while Wilbur explains the process of wing warping. Orville is not holding the box correctly; see the Inner Tube Box Experiment.

The interpretive material at Deeds Point also has inaccuracies. In 1899 the Wrights had not "solved...turning." They thought that rolling an airplane by twisting its wings would result in a turn. Later experiments would show this was only half the solution. They would not discover how to turn an airplane until 1902. See The Last Piece of the Puzzle.

Hawthorn Hill

901 Harmon Avenue, Oakwood, OH 45419

Named for the many Hawthorn trees growing on the property, Hawthorn Hill was home to Milton Wright until his death in 1917, Katharine Wright until her marriage in 1926, and Orville Wright until his death in 1948. Although he never lived there, Wilbur helped to design the house but died of typhoid fever two years before the mansion was completed in 1914. The house was designed by the architectural firm of Schenck and Williams, patterned after a "Greek Revival" southern mansion – it was a style that the Wrights had admired when they visited Fort Myer, Virginia to demonstrate their airplane. Originally the building set on 17 acres but only a little over 1 acre remains. Over the years, Orville filled the home with many of his own devices, including a circular shower, a metal cistern to collect rainwater, a system to purify and soften the water, a system of chain and rods that allowed Orville to adjust the furnace from the upstairs rooms, a toaster that sliced and browned bread, and a special easy chair with a reading stand. Hawthorne Hill was called Orville Wright's "machine for living." Notables that visited the mansion include Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Carl Sandburg, Admiral Richard Byrd, King Constantine of Greece and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Just weeks after he made his pioneering flight from New York to Paris, Charles Lindbergh was a guest at Hawthorn Hill. He had arrived too late to make a personal appearance in a public place, so a crowd gathered on the lawn and clamored for their hero. Orville prevailed on Lindbergh to do something to mollify the crowd, so Lindbergh and Orville made a brief appearance on the balcony. The crowd dispersed, satisfied.
  • CLICK HERE to visit Hawthorne Hill in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE for information about visiting Hawthorn Hill.

View Hawthorne Hill in a larger map.

The entrance to Hawthorn Hill. The balcony above the door is where Charles Lindbergh appeared with Orville in 1927.

The back door of Hawthorn Hill. The mansion is precisely symmetrical. It displays the same colonnade front and back and same porches on either side.

A bird's-eye view of Hawthorn Hill.

Huffman Prairie

Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433

Orville Wright first visited Huffman prairie when he was still in high school. His teacher William Werthner took Orville's class on field trips to the spot where, in the 1830s, botanist John Leonard Riddell had discovered three new species of plants. (Riddell was also one of the earliest science fiction writers and wrote about "aerial navigation." ) The prairie was a boggy piece of real estate with poor drainage. It was unproductive as farmland, so the owner Torrence Huffman needed little convincing to allow Orville and Wilbur to use it. They built a small hangar in one corner of the 84 acres and conducted flight experiments there in 1904 and 1905, working to develop their invention into a commercial product. The Wrights built a larger hangar in 1910 and used it for test flights and as a flight school until 1915. Over 100 of America's first pilots learned to fly here, including Hap Arnold, the first commander of the US Air Force. In 1917, the US Army purchased the field along with 2,000 adjacent acres, and renamed it Wilbur Wright Field. It became a training grounds for Army pilots.  The facility expanded to 4,500 acres in 1927 to become Wright Field. In 1948, six months after creation of the US Air Force from the US Army Air Corps, the field merged with nearby Patterson Field to become Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Buried deep within the base, the original Huffman Prairie was off limits to civilian visitors, especially during the Cold War. But in 1990, the prairie was designated a National Historic Landmark and opened to the public. In 2002, it became park of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park and today the prairie is cared for by the National Park Service. Except in times of high military alerts and inclement weather, visitors can drive directly onto the field through Gate 16A off of Route 444.
  • CLICK HERE to visit Huffman Prairie in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the National Park Service's web site for the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center.

View Huffman Prairie in a larger map.

The boundaries of Huffman Prairie are marked with blue flags at each corner. In one corner, there is a replica of the 1905 hangar.

Off in the distance, you can see the hangars and other buildings of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Occasionally,  military aircraft practice landings and take-offs on the nearby runway.

A view of Huffman Prairie from the air. A road running through the field lets you drive around the area. A section of the Prairie just to the east of the hangar has been declared a State Natural Landmark where conservationists are restoring the original prairie environment.

National Museum of the United States Air force

1100 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433

This is the official museum of the United States Air Force, the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world, and the second most-visited museum in the United States next to the Smithsonian. In began in 1923 when the Engineering Division at Dayton's McCook Field first collected engines and other technical artifacts for preservation. In 1927, this "engineering museum" moved moved to Wright Field and was housed in a succession of buildings. In 1954 it became the Air Force Museum and occupied Building 89 of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Area C, which had been an engine overhaul hangar. It moved to its present location in 1971. Since then it has more than tripled in size. The museum displays military planes of all aviation eras, from the very beginnings of the US Army Air Corps to the present. Because of this, there are no early experimental Wright gliders or Flyers although, inexplicably, the museum does exhibit a Chanute and a Lilienthal glider. But its Wright collection starts with a reproduction of the 1909 Wright Military Flyer, the first airplane purchased by the US Army. (The original Wright Military Flyer is in the Smithsonian.)  There is also an original Wright Model B, although it has been much modified with ailerons instead of wing warping and a powerful 75 hp Rausenberger engine in place of the original 35 hp Wright engine. Other pioneer aircraft in the museum include 1911 American-built Bleriot XI and a 1911 Curtiss Model D. The museum also exhibits the 160 mph wind tunnel from Orville Wright's 1916 laboratory, as well as a replica of the Wrights 20 mph wind tunnel from 1901.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the National Museum of the Air Force web site.

View the National Museum of the United States Air Force in a larger map.

Vintage B-25 bombers fly over the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The museum's collection is housed in three huge hangars.

The entrance to the museum. To the left of the atrium is an IMAX theater which features movies on flight.

The replica of the 1909 Wright Military Flyer in the Early Flight Gallery. The Curtiss Model D is visible behind the Flyer.

Paul Laurence Dunbar Library Archives

Wright State University, 3640 Colonel Glenn Highway, Dayton, Ohio 45435

The Wright Brothers Collection on the fourth floor of the  Paul Laurence Dunbar Library in Wright State University includes the Wrights’ own technical and personal library, family papers including letters, diaries, financial records, genealogical files, and other documents detailing the lives and work of Wilbur and Orville Wright and the Wright Family. For example, you'll find here the account book of the Wright Cycle Company and the hand-written diaries of Bishop Milton Wright. The collection also features awards, certificates, medals, albums, recordings, and technical drawings. Perhaps the most valuable part of it are the thousands of photographs documenting the invention of the airplane and the lives of the Wright Family. Indeed, the library is the go-to place for all Wright photography outside the 300+ photos that are in the Library of Congress Collection. The collection was deeded to Wright State University in 1975 by the Wright Family. Since that time, there have been numerous additions to the collection and donations of related collections that have made this one of the most astounding treasure troves of pioneer aviation information in the world.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library, Archives and Special Collections web site.

View the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library in a larger map.

The Paul Laurence Dunbar Library at Wright State University as seen from the parking lot.

A replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer I hangs in the library's atrium.

All four floors of the library are open to the atrium. The archives are on the top (fourth) floor.

woodlawn cemetery and Arboretum

118 Woodland Avenue, Dayton, OH 45409

Woodlawn Cemetery became Dayton's main cemetery in 1841 and it remains an active burying ground and one of the oldest rural garden cemeteries in America. It is also a spectacular arboretum, with over 3,000 mature trees and 160 species of woody plants on the premises. Its graves hold the bodies of many prominent scientists and engineers, as well as some of the industrial greats that helped make Dayton history. For example, here you can find the resting place of John H. Patterson, the founder of National Cash Register and the father of the business machine industry. Or Charles F. Kettering, the inventor of the automobile self-starter, octane gasoline, coil ignition, and hundreds of other automotive advancements. But the occupants aren't all moguls and gear-nuts. There are some surprises, like Matilda and Levi Stanley, the Queen and King of the Gypsies. Or humorist Erma Bombeck and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. Not far from Dunbar's grave is the Wright family plot. Originally the graves included Bishop Milton Wright and his wife Susan, plus Wilbur, Orville, and Katharine. Recently, Otis and Ida Wright were moved from another Dayton-area cemetery to Woodlawn. These were the twin brother and sister of the Wilbur and Orville who died in infancy. Caretakers of the cemetery report that visitors often leave tokens on the Wright brothers graves, including pilot's insignias, coins, and occasionally a rubber band-powered airplane. Visitors also take away acorns from the oak tree that shades the Wrights' graves. There are more than a few "Wright Oaks" growing at small airports across America. (Note: The best time to gather these nuts is late August or early September.)
  • CLICK HERE to visit the Woodlawn Cemetery and Arboretum in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE for a printable map of Woodlawn Cemetery, showing the location of the Wright graves ("O" in Section 101).
  • CLICK HERE to visit Woodlawn Cemetery's web site.

View Woodlawn Cemetery in a larger map.

The oak-shaded Wright family plot in Woodlawn Cemetery.

As was the custom in the late nineteenth century, the individual headstones are small. There is a single large monument for the entire family.

From left to right, the headstones of Wilbur, Katharine, and Orville. These are downslope from the larger monument.

Wright Cycle Shop No. 4

22 South Williams Street, Dayton, OH 45402

The Wright brothers moved around a lot. Not only did the family move a dozen times before it landed in Dayton permanently, Wilbur and Orville moved their bicycle shop to several locations before they landed and stuck. There were six, all total -- 1005 West Third, 1015 West Third, 1034 West Third, 22 South Williams, 20 West Second, and finally 1127 West Third. It was this last location where they built all of their experimental airplanes from the 1899 kite to the 1905 Wright Flyer III, and this is the building that was moved to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI. The fifth, on Second Street across the Great Miami River, was just a showcase. The fourth on Williams Street is where the Wright brothers were working when they first began to manufacture their own bicycles and when they began to study aviation in earnest -- they were here from 1895 to 1897.  They also built their first internal combustion engine while they were here, a one cylinder behemoth powered by natural gas that ran their machine tools. This bicycle shop was "rediscovered" by Fred Fisk and Marlin Todd in 1980 when they published an article on Wright bicycles and a photo of Shop No. 4 in The Wheelmen magazine. The building was restored by Aviation Trail, Inc., a non-profit organization of Dayton historians and aviation enthusiasts. Today it's managed by the National Park Service. 
  • CLICK HERE to visit the Wright Cycle Shop No. 4 in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the National Park Service's web site of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park.

View the Wright Cycle Shop in a larger map.

The Wright Cycle Company's shop No. 4 at 22 South Williams Street, immediately after its restoration. The Wrights also moved their printing business to the second floor.

Several display bicycles at the Wright bicycle shop. The Wrights sold many other brands besides their own.

The shop area of the Wright bicycle shop.

Wright Hill Memorial

2380 Memorial Road, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433

On a hill that overlooks Huffman Prairie, the citizens of Dayton erected a shaft of North Carolina marble "in commemoration of the courage, perseverance, and achievements of Wilbur and Orville Wright." The memorial was dedicated with Orville Wright in attendance in 1940; he was 69 years old. As you walk around the terrace that encircles the shaft, there are several bronze plaques inlaid in a low stone wall. One contains the names of all 119 pioneer pilots who were taught to fly at Huffman Prairie. Another talks about the 160 flights the Wrights made over the prairie in 1904 and 1905, including the first complete circle. An arrow on top of the wall points to Huffman Prairie and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just over a mile away to the northeast. To the west are several small Indian mounds, discovered when the memorial was built. Just across the parking lot from the memorial is the Huffman Prairie Interpretive Center, a small museum operated by the National Park Service. Huffman Prairie is maintained as a pristine botanical prairie with a minimum of exhibits, much the same way the Wright brothers found it in 1904. Consequently, all the interpretive exhibits for the Wrights 1904-1905 experiments and their 1910-1915 flight school are up here on the hill.
  • CLICK HERE to visit Wright Hill in Google Earth.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the National Park Service's web site for the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center.

View Wright Hill in a larger map.

The Wright Brothers Memorial on Wright Hill. The shaft is about 20 feet (6 meters) tall and surround by a wide flagstone terrace.

The list  of 119 pioneer aviators who learned to fly at Huffman Prairie.

The view of Huffman Prairie and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from Wright Hill.

wright factory

2815 West Third Street, Dayton, OH 45417

When the Wright Company incorporated in 1909, they began work on two new factory buildings just off West Third Street, 1.4 miles (2.3 kilometers) west of the Wright Cycle Shop.  The first of these was completed in November 1910 and the Wright Company moved in. For a short time, this was the busiest airplane factory on earth, turning out as many as four airplanes every month. It didn't last, however. The death of Wilbur Wright and the patent fights sapped the company's creative talents and Wright airplanes became increasingly outmoded as better designs were produced by competitors. Orville sold the Wright Company to New York investors in 1915 and the factory shut its doors. It had produced just 120 airplanes. But they were opened again in1917 when Charles Kettering and Edward Deeds organized the Dayton Wright Airplane Company to manufacture DeHavilland 4 aircraft for the war in Europe. In 1923, the buildings were purchased by the Inland Manufacturing Company, a division of General Motors, to make automotive components such as chassis, brakes, springs, steering wheels, and hundreds more. The facility grew exponentially, erecting building after building over several decades as new products were added. During World War II, the complex even produced M-1 carbines. After corporate restructuring in the 1990s, General Motors sold Inland to its employees and the name was changed to Delphi. Delphi struggled for several years, then closed most of its US operations in 2005 and 2006, including the Inland's main plant off West Third Street. The original Wright Company buildings were put under the protection of the National Park Service in 2009 and the entire plant is now under the management of a group that is working to rid the site of environmental contaminants. Most of the manufacturing complex has been demolished, but several historic buildings – including the original Wright Factory – have been preserved. As of this writing (August 2017), it is not clear when the building will be turned over to the National Park Service.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the Wright Factory in Google Earth.

View the Wright Factory in a larger map.

The Wright factory buildings as they appeared in 2002. Both buildings were truncated when Delphi put in a steam plant. Notice the steam pipes running between buildings – the plant has since been removed, but you can see how the buildings were shortened on Google Earth.

The window with the air conditioner was once the window of Orville's office. It's not known when the entranceway was built, but it was not part of the original building.

Looking down the length of Building No. 2 in 2002, when it was still being used by Delphi to manufacture small parts. It's not as long as it used to be owing to the steam plant.

wright laboratory memorial

15 North Broadway, Dayton, OH 45402

After Orville sold the Wright Company and left airplane manufacturing behind, his built a personal research laboratory on Broadway Street in West Dayton, less than a block from his old bicycle shop. Originally, this laboratory had been the dream of both brothers. When they first tried to sell their invention to the US Army, they offered all patent rights in return for enough money to set themselves up in a professional research facility, much like Thomas Edison in Menlo Park.  It was from here that Orville consulted for or worked with other research establishments. Using a state-of-the-art wind tunnel – much more capable than anything he and Wilbur had dreamed off – he did the first lift/drag survey of air foils shapes for the US Army. He helped Charles Kettering design the Liberty Eagle, the first attempt at a guided missile. He consulted with Chrysler Motors and helped conduct wind tunnel studies which resulted in the first aerodynamic automobiles, the DeSoto and Chrysler Airflow. He was the co-designer of split-flaps used on dive bombers in World War II, even helped to build a code machine for the US Navy. Orville worked almost until the day he died; he suffered a heart attack in this office in 1948, then succumbed three days later. The laboratory and the land it rested upon was sold to Standard Oil of Ohio in 1971 to build a gas station. The laboratory was razed, but the station was never built. Today  there is a memorial with a statue of Orville holding a  propeller beside a workbench. The tableau is handsomely sculpted but conveys misleading information. That particular propeller was designed for the 1903 Flyer I and  was created in the Wright bike shop long before the lab was built. And it was the doing of Wilbur, not Orville. What Orville accomplished in later life at this laboratory had little to do with propellers. The real story was his growing influence as the grand old man of aviation and the guidance he offered to an emerging industry. Tough to show in a statue.
  • CLICK HERE to visit the Wright Laboratory Memorial in Google Earth.

View the Wright Laboratory in a larger map.

The entranceway to the Wright Laboratory Memorial echoes the front of the razed building. The bricks of the laboratory were saved when the building was torn down but disappeared before the memorial was built.

Orville, holding a propeller that was made by Wilbur in a location about a half block away.

The intersection of Third and Broadway, just beyond the statue, is where Orville and Wilbur had their first joint business, a print shop.

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