The New Wright Field 1927

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Honoring the Wright Brothers

At the dedication of the new Wright Field in 1927, Brig.-General William E. Gillmore, Chief of the Materiel Division, spoke about what Wright Field will mean to the science and progress of the Nation’s Aviation Program.

The dedication of Wright Field provided the United States with the world’s Largest Aviation Plant.

Here is what he said (with some editing):

A Quarter of a century ago, Dayton saw the beginning of a new engineering industry. I speak of that which the Wright brothers engaged in as a sideline in their bicycle repair shop. To such vast proportions has that industry grown in this short span, that today it is regarded as a major arm of national defense by all civilized nations of the world.

The development of this industry was hastened through its early and anemic stages by the Great War and after the war it could not be allowed to lag. The Army’s course lay very clear ahead in that respect. To take part in, encourage, and aid in every phase of the process of flight was sheer duty to nation.

Reservoir of Science

Under this peacetime program, McCook Field and Wright Field, to which the McCook Field organization has been transferred, became the clearinghouse between manufacturer and the Army Air Corps. It interprets its needs in specifications and drawings of articles to be built, testing the products when completed, and refusing them if they did not come up to specifications.

If they did and still not prove all that was needed, “we study the weaknesses, pooling engineering experience, and suggestions with the manufacturer with hope of obtaining better functioning or more useful products.” In many instances it was breaking virgin ground, trying for equipment never used before.

Because of the large volume of testing carried on by the Materiel Division at McCook and Wright Fields through the years — static and dynamic testing of airplane structures, dynamometer testing of engines, whirl testing of propellers, precision testing of instruments, strength testing of every raw material used in connection with flight, and finally through flight testing of every airplane brought to the hangers — Wright Field has become a great reservoir of scientific aviation data.

These data have been open to the aviation public and have been drawn upon by the industry in every step of its forward progress with the exception of a few military secrets.

Because of this vast experience with and complete facilities for testing, Wright Field has been able to discover new building methods and materials. It has freely disseminated this knowledge, both for the purpose of obtaining satisfactory products for Air Corps use and also for simplifying the problems of design for the commercial builder.

Because of the great amount of all types of flying done by Air Corps pilots and because of the facilities for development at Wright Field, new problems of flight, as well as things needed for pilot and plane have been brought early for solving to the notice of technicians and engineers in charge of such work at Wright Field.

It was in answer to such problems that the idea of the earth induction compass, the radio beacon, night flying equipment, the modern air-cooled aviation engines, the airplane parachute, and other items too numerous to mention, had their inception in the organization now at Wright Field.

Reference: Aviation Progress, NCR, October 8, 1927.

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