The Legacies of the Wright Brothers in Dayton, Ohio
Created | Updated Nov 9, 2006
Two of the most famous and important citizens of the city of Dayton, Ohio were Wilbur and Orville Wright, the inventors of many important aeroplane concepts. They lived and worked in Dayton, leaving a huge legacy in more ways than one.
License Plates and Quarters
Ohio is generally well-known for its aviation. Besides the Wrights, John Glenn, the first American to go into orbit, was born and raised there, and Neil Armstrong, first person on the Moon, lives there. These people have influenced the creation of Wright-Patterson Air force Base and the Air Force Museum. But more well known to all Ohioans are their license plates, which feature the slogan 'Birthplace of Aviation' and their state quarter1 which shows an astronaut and the Wright Flyer.
Wright Patterson Air Force Base
Wright Patterson Air Force Base is named after three important Daytonians. The Wright Brothers of course and John Patterson, who formed NCR, a prominent Dayton company.
Many sites around Dayton are labelled with a small blue sign that reads 'Aviation Trail'. This title serves little purpose other than to identify something as a landmark.
A House on Hawthorn Street
The Wright Brothers were raised and lived most of their childhood on Seven Hawthorn Street. At one point they left the home to move to Iowa, but went back after a few years. Years later, this house was moved to Henry Ford's Greenfield Village as an exhibit.
A House on Hawthorn Hill
The citizens of Oakwood, Ohio know Orville's last house by no name other than the House on Hawthorn Hill. This is probably because there are no major landmarks in the entire town besides this house. It is a centrepiece for Hawthorn Street and the neighbourhood around it. As a suburb of Dayton, Oakwood and Oakwoodites are caught up in the Wright Brothers as well.
The Wrights lived and worked together their whole lives, but Orville lived almost 40 years longer than Wilbur and inhabited Hawthorn Hill alone. There he invented a now famous bread slicing machine and hung a famous canoe.
Still today the large mansion sits on top of one off the biggest hills in the town. Its large pillars and beige walls sit atop the big hill. Today Hawthorn Hill is used as a sledding hill in the winter as it is uninhabited. There are sporadic tours, but it generally remains closed for the public.
As a part of the Inventing Flight Celebration, the downtown plaza Deeds' Park was transformed permanently into 'Flightscape'. This park was created to help contain the tourist flow of 2003 in celebration of the centenary anniversary of the first flight. The area features a sculpture of the moment when wing-warping was discovered, among many other historic exhibits.
Carillon Park of Dayton has always had a few exhibits on the Wright Brothers. Around 2002, the park started featuring many exhibits on the Wright Brothers. Now, it has one of the largest collections of Wright items in the world.
The Wright Flyer III
The crown jewel of the museum is the third airplane that the Wrights built. It's placed in a large pit with guarded railing along the edges. Although some of the parts are replaced and there is a fake man on it, it is generally considered to be a well-maintained artefact. This exhibit is the only aeroplane with national landmark status.
Footage from France and other Memorabilia
In a single room are many important pieces of Wright history.
A bread slicing machine that Orville invented. The story is that Orville didn't like the thickness that his chef sliced his bread, so he made a machine that sliced it to his favour.
A famous canoe that was tied to the Wright Flyer III in case of a water crash. This canoe was moved from Hawthorn Hill to the museum following his death.
Footage from the brothers' trip to France. This is displayed on a large screen, showing the perspective of flying the plane.
As the Wrights were at one point in their lives printers, there is a large working replica of their shop. The print shop has mini-tours, explaining how some machines work. This shop is actually used for printing brochures of the park and things for the gift shop, despite most of the machines being outdated.
The Wright Bicycle Shop
There is a large replica of the Wright bicycle shop in the park. It features many of the only remaining Van Cleve bicycles that the Wrights made.
The Wright Brothers were very careful about their flyers designs being copied2. They took a great number of photographs for uses of patenting their control systems. Carillon Park has the camera that was used to take dozens of very famous photos, including those of their first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
First Flight Replica - Downtown Dayton
In the centre of downtown Dayton, there is a large, bumpy white arch-shaped model. This arch is much longer than it is wide. It is supporting large arrows on it that lead from one side of the structure to the other. The span of the arch represents the length, height and bumps that the Wright Brothers' first flight is thought to be.
In preparation for the year-long celebration of flight, many schools around Dayton created an interdisciplinary curriculum on flight and the Wright Brothers. This means that many different subjects all teach about flight and the Wright Brothers. Besides this, dozens of pieces of the Wright Flyer are framed and distributed throughout various school districts.
The only public library in Oakwood3, Ohio is named after the Wrights. The Wright Public Library features a stain glass window of the Wrights and a large selection of books on that topic.
A long winding bike course has been named for the Wright Brothers. The Wright Brothers' Bikeway is almost five miles long and is one of the main bike paths of the entire Dayton area, connecting with other bikeways and streets. Also, in congested downtown Dayton is a large Wright Brothers Parkway.
Clubs and Societies
As with many major figures of Dayton, the Wright Brothers have led to the creation of many philanthropic clubs and societies. Some clubs focus on the Wright Brothers themselves or flight and some simply name themselves after the Wrights and help with charity programmes.