Wright Brothers – Honoring the Wright Brothers

Articles relating to the honoring of 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.

In 1909 Orville and Wilbur Wright were flying before excited fans on two continents. It had been six years since their history making first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903. Honors long due were beginning to roll in. Unfortunately, many honors were a sham because they did not recognize the brothers as the inventors of flight.

Conspicuously absent was the date, December 17, 1903, and of what happened there on that date.

This is the story.

President Taft Presents Medals

In mid-June the Wright Brothers were invited to visit the White House by President William Howard Taft to receive medals awarded by the Aero Club of America. Accompanying the brothers was their sister Katharine. Before the presentation there was a grand luncheon attended by members of Congress at the exclusive Cosmos Club. Their “all male” rule was suspended to allow Katharine to attend.

That afternoon, the portly President presented the medals in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. In a good mood, he jested that his own girth would keep him on the ground.

The gold medals showed busts of the Wrights, their airplane and the dates of the first flight made by Orville at Fort Myer, Va. and Wilbur in France. But, what wasn’t inscribed was more significant. Despite all the pomp and ceremony, there was no indication on the medals that the brothers were the inventors of flight.

Awards in Dayton

A few days later in Dayton, Ohio, there was a two-day grand celebration in which the brothers received additional medals. Brigadier General James Allen, U.S. Signal Corps, awarded them a special U.S. Congressional Medal. Ohio Governor Judson Harmon presented them a State of Ohio Medal. Dayton Mayor Edward Burkhart presented them a City of Dayton Medal. (Click image for larger version.)

There were parades, fireworks and speeches by dignitaries, but again, none of the medals said that the brothers were the inventors of flight. The inscriptions on the medals were as follows:

U.S. Congress Medal: On one side, “In recognition and appreciation of their ability, courage and success in navigating the air.” The other side showed an angel with the inscription: “shall mount up with wings as angels.”

Ohio Medal: “Presented to Wilbur Wright (and Orville) by an act of the General Assembly of the State of Ohio.”

Dayton Medal: “A testimonial from the citizens of their home in recognition and appreciation of their success in navigating the air.”

The brothers, being modest, said nothing about it, but they were not pleased. They did not want the celebration and had asked the city officials to cancel it. Wilbur complained that the celebration “has been made the excuse for an elaborate carnival and advertisement of the city under the guise of being an honor to us.” Following the presentations, Wilbur stepped to the microphone and said, “Thank you, gentlemen,” and sat down. They left the ceremony in Dayton as soon as they could.

No doubt some of the oversight can be attributed to ignorance. But much of it may have been perpetuated by the venerable Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian claimed that Dr. Samuel Langley, a Secretary of the Smithsonian, discovered principles of heavier-than-air flight prior to the Wright Brothers. The Smithsonian claimed that Langley deserved to be honored as a co-equal along with the Wrights. They did not retract this claim until 1942.

Smithsonian Awards Langley Medal

On February 1910, the Smithsonian awarded the brothers the first Langley Medal for “achievement in aerodynamic investigation and its application to aviation.” Again there was no reference to the invention of flight.

To make matters worse, Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone and regent of the Smithsonian, effusively praised Langley in his introductory speech at the award ceremony. It may be that the scientists associated with the Smithsonian couldn’t accept the reality that two bicycle makers without college diplomas had bested them.

A side note: In 1922 the first U.S. aircraft carrier was commissioned the “U.S.S. Langley”.

Wright Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the first flight, December 1928, marked the laying of the cornerstone of the national memorial and the unveiling of a large granite boulder marking the takeoff spot of the flight. Orville was in attendance as was Amelia Earhart and four of the original witnesses of the event.

Orville returned for the dedication of the completed monument in November 1932. The inscription on the monument’s exterior reads:

“In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright, conceived by genius, achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.”

It may be implicit that the inscription refers to the invention of flight, but it doesn’t explicitly say so. At the time of the dedication, the 1903 Flyer was in exile on England.

Wright Memorial in Dayton, Ohio

As time went on, the weight of overwhelming evidence supported the Wright’s claim of being first in flight. The Wright Brothers Memorial, dedicated in 1940 in Dayton, Ohio, represents this new confidence. It recognizes the Wrights by boldly stating:

“As scientists Wilbur and Orville Wright discovered the secret of flight. As inventors, builders and flyers they brought aviation to the world.” It goes on to state: “— enabled them in 1903 to build and fly at Kitty Hawk the first man-carrying aeroplane capable of flight.”

Wilbur died in 1912. Orville had many honors given to him in his old age. These included the Distinguished Flying Cross and six honorary doctorates.

The Oakwood Planning Commission has turned down the request by the Wright Family Foundation, owner of Hawthorn Hill, to open the Wrights’ home to limited public tours.

Stephen Wright, Wright brothers descendant, Oakwood resident, and one of the foundation’s trustees, said that the negative decision has been appealed to the Oakwood City Council.

The proposed tour protocol is very modest. Public tours would be limited to just two a day two days a week between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is a reduction to the original proposal of four days a week. The other requirements are:

The tours would begin from Carillon Park in Dayton. A specially designated van would ferry no more than 16 visitors to Hawthorn Hill.

No special exemption would be made for opening the home for visits from area schools. An exemption to this policy would be made for Oakwood High School. I am a graduate of the school and I am fortunate to have been able to visit the home several times.

There would be no sales from the home including souvenirs or food.

Lastly, visitors would be able to take photographs of the home’s exterior, limited to 15 people at a time and remaining within 25 feet of the property line.

The City of Oakwood is home to Hawthorne Hill. It is a lovely mansion situated on a high hill and was designed by the Wright brothers. Orville lived there for 34 years until he died in 1948. Wilbur died in 1912 before the house was completed and never lived there. The house is designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Wrights bought the land in 1911 or 1912. It was the site of Oakwood’s first water tower. They named the hill Hawthorn Hill after the name of their boyhood home on Hawthorne St. and also in honor of the prickly-needled Hawthorn tree that once stood in the middle of Huffman Prairie and the Hawthorn trees on their new Oakwood property.

In addition to Orville, his sister Katharine and his father, Bishop Wright moved into the house in 1914. Their old home in Dayton had been badly damaged by the great Dayton flood of 1913.

Many famous people visited Orville while he lived in the mansion including Charles Lindbergh, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, General Hap Arnold, General Billy Mitchell, Admiral Richard Byrd, Henry Ford, and Carl Sandburg. Ivonette Wright Miller, Orville’s niece, was married there with about 60 guests in attendance.

One of the unique things about the house is that Orville designed many of the mechanical features of the house, many of them while he lived there. The National Park Service declared the house a national landmark in 1991.

Upon Orville’s death the house was offered for sale to the public. There was a proposal for the City of Oakwood to buy the house. The Oakwood City Council scotched the idea because they would have to propose a bond issue to raise the money. I guess they weren’t too concerned about how the mansion would be used in those days.

The NCR stepped up and bought the house for $75,000 fearing that it might fall into the wrong hands. Also Orville was a good friend of many top executives of NCR including John Patterson, Edward Deeds and Charles Kettering. NCR used it as a corporate retreat and VIP guesthouse.

The most important thing is that NCR has kept the house in pristine condition. Many other Dayton buildings associated with the Wrights have either been moved out of Dayton, such as their boyhood home and their last bicycle shop. Others no longer exist, such as Orville’s laboratory that was torn down to be replaced by a gas station.

The NCR donated the house to the Wright Family Foundation on August 18th, 2006, the day before Orville’s birthday. Amanda Wright Lane, great-grand niece and Stephen Wright, great-grand nephew, are trustees of the foundation. They are related to Orville and Wilbur by blood and marriage. NCR stipulated that the foundation make an effort to transfer ownership to the National Park Service. The foundation has started the process to do just that but it may take a few years to accomplish the transfer.

What follows may be a partial explanation of some of Oakwood resident’s negative attitude towards opening Hawthorn Hill to the public.

Oakwood is a small city of less than 3 square miles geographically surrounded by the cities of Dayton and Kettering. Homes range in price from about $300,000 to nearly $1 million. It has no industry. Population is around 9,000 residents.

Oakwood is the product of John Patterson, founder and president of NCR. Patterson envisioned Oakwood as a bedroom of Dayton as it is today. His influence led to generous lot sizes and academic excellence in the school system. The school system is still outstanding and regularly sends most of its high school graduates to college.

The early city received a jump-start when Patterson encouraged his executives and later his foreman to move to the new village.

The city’s fixed area is comfortable and livable. The median family income is around $88,000. The absence of industry keeps the city clean. Although most of the housing is older and the tax rate is high, but the excellent schools draw people to the city.

A little known fact is that a secret research facility in Oakwood during WW II produced polonium that made the first atomic bomb possible.

Many residents have lived in Oakwood for many years. They tend to be conservative in philosophy.

Some close neighbors to the mansion are against the proposal. Here is an example: “All I can think of are tacky tourists, feet over running, tacky rubber flip flops, with their slurpees, big gulps, mistys, and frostys tearing my darling Oakwood. It breaks my heart to see it become so pedestrian.”

Not all Oakwood people are against it: “It sounds like the Wright Foundation has taken every possible step to insure these tours are handled in the proper way. Hawthorn Hill is a true treasure that should be viewed by the public.”

Many people in Oakwood are embarrassed by, and cringing at, what has occurred. They have been working behind the scenes to ensure that the city council reverses the planning commission’s decision.

The Dayton Daily News in an editorial wrote: “Oakwood’s elected officials need to do the right thing. Overruling the planning commission doesn’t require courage, just common sense.”

Latest news: The Oakwood City Council on July 2nd voted to open the Wright home for public tours. The vote was unanimous with one abstention. No date was announced for when the tours would start.

Later news: Conducted tours of Hawthorn Hill are to begin on Saturday, Sept. 1, with 45-minute tours planned to follow on Wednesdays and Saturdays thereafter. Dayton History. a historical preservation organization based in Dayton’s Carillon Historical Park, will sell tickets for the tours and conduct them.

There is a maximum of 14 visitors that can be handled at a time. They will be taken by van at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. from Carillon Park to Hawthorn Hill and back. The tours will be conducted throughout the year.

References: Dayton Daily News; Oakwood: The Far Hills by Bruce Ronald and Virginia Ronald.

On December 17, 2003 there will be a grand celebration at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, NC to celebrate the first flight that took place there on December 17, 1903. It is being billed as the event of the century. The occasion will include air shows, a hot-air balloon race, and the most exciting of all, an actual flight of an exact reproduction of the 1903 Wright Flyer.

With thousands of visitors expected to attend the five day event, it will be a boon to tourism. That is exactly what Congressman Lindsay C. Warren had in mind in 1926 when he proposed the memorial in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the first successful powered, heavier-than-air flight, and also as a means of attracting tourist dollars to boost the Outer Banks.

The area needed a boost. Orville Wright once commented that the outer banks were “like the Sahara.”

Today, the memorial, a great 60-foot pylon of Mount Airy granite quarried in NC with wings sculpted into the sides and an aeronautical beacon on top, can be seen for miles at night. Since its dedication in 1932, it has exceeded Congressman Warren’s greatest dream.

The Proposal

Warren’s proposal for a memorial received strong support from the local citizens and NC legislators. Some Dayton citizens were not happy because they wanted the memorial in Dayton. However, before the Ohio delegation could mount an effective campaign, Senator Hiram Bingham of Connecticut, a friend of Warren and the President of the National Aeronautical Society, quickly introduced a $50,000 appropriation bill to build the memorial at Kill Devil Hills. The bill passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Coolidge on March 2, 1927.

Neither the Congress nor the Fine Arts Commission could agree on what the memorial should look like. About 35 designs were presented. Some of the ideas were bizarre. Senator Bingham wanted a Greek Temple made of granite from his home state of Connecticut.

Time was drawing short because the anniversary was in 1928. So, they decided to lay a cornerstone on top of Kill Devil Hill for the anniversary and decide later on the nature of the monument.

At the same time they decided to place a commemorative six-foot granite boulder at the spot where the Flyer took off. There was a problem. No one knew for sure where that spot was. In the intervening twenty-five years, the sands had shifted.

Fortunately, they found three surviving witnesses of the first flight who were willing to help find the spot. Two of them had been from the lifesaving station and one had been a boy who just happened to wander by. On November 4,1928, they met and came to an agreement as best they could as to the exact location.

The Ceremony Became a Calamity

The plan was to hold an International Civil Aeronautics Conference in Washington, D.C. Orville Wright and members of his family would be honored guests. After the conference the 200 attendees would travel to Kitty Hawk, NC for the ceremony.

The Achilles Heel in the plan was the gross underestimation of the difficulty of traveling to Kitty Hawk in those days with that many people.

The road down the Currituck County, NC peninsula was under construction, but not finished. There was no bridge at that time over the sound to Kitty Hawk, and there was only a crude corduroy road in the sand through Kitty Hawk to Big Kill Devil Hill.

On Saturday, December 15, the 200 conference attendees boarded the steamer, District of Columbia, for the trip to Norfolk, VA. The first of many problems presented itself even before they left the dock. A heavy fog delayed departure for four hours until 2 a.m. The continued presence of mist and patches of fog meant slow passage to Norfolk and necessitated a stay on the steamer over night.

The next day they piled into buses for the trip down the Currituck peninsula. That part of the trip went well until they reached the end of the paved road. The buses couldn’t negotiate the rest of the way, so everyone was transferred to a fleet of seventy automobiles. In some places the automobiles had to detour around muddy roads by driving over resident’s front yards and farmlands.

After reaching Point Harbor at the end of the peninsula, they transferred to a ferry. On the ferry trip to Kitty Hawk, one man somehow fell overboard and almost drowned before being rescued.

At Kitty Hawk, another fleet of cars driven by local farmers drove the attendees through the sand to Big Kill Devil Hill. Along the way, the nice ladies of Dare County treated them to lunch.

The last challenge for the attendees was the tough climb up the 90-foot Big Kill Devil Hill for the ceremony.

The ceremony held that December 17 went according to plan except that the high winds that made it almost impossible for anyone to hear the dedication speeches by Senator Hiram Bingham and Secretary of War, Dwight Davis.

Orville Wright placed sealed documents and descriptions of the first flight in a special box in the cornerstone. Orville, typically modest, turned to Congressman Warren, whose idea it was to build the memorial, and said that this whole thing might be a mistake. “To do it now seems like an imposition on the taxpayers.”

Then everyone went back down the hill and reassembled at the spot of the takeoff of the first flight. There, the six-foot boulder was dedicated to mark the event. The famous aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart proclaimed the “Queen of the Air” by the United Press, stood next to Orville during the ceremony.

She was not an official delegate to the aviation conference but she was invited to accompany the 200 delegates on the trip from Washington. She wrote to her mother, “I was considered important enough to be the guest of the government so I am riding and eating free…”

The trip home by the attendees, if possible, was an even worse experience. Many automobiles left early because of the cold, leaving a number of attendees stranded. This caused some of them to miss the returning ferry. They were diverted to a leaking rumrunner patrol boat that proceeded to get lost.

On the ferry, Allen Heuth, a New Jersey sportsman who with Frank and Charles Baker had donated the land for the memorial, keeled over and died of a heart attack while talking to the Secretary of War Davis.

Building the Memorial

A great pylon of granite was selected as the winning design for the memorial. Robert P. Rodgers and Alfred E. Poor, New York architects, were the winning architects.

In selecting the design the commission of Fine Arts and the Joint Congressional commission stated that it was “not only the most original and impressive as seen from land, but would also be extremely effective as seen from the air. It strongly manifests the dominant motive suggested in the program, namely, a memorial to the birth of human flight.”

The job of building the memorial consisting of a great pylon of granite was assigned to the Army Quartermaster Corps. In charge was Captain John A. Gilman, who had just completed building the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. The work on the memorial started in 1929.

The job presented a major engineering challenge. Big Kill Devil Hill was a 90-foot high, shifting sand dune that had to be stabilized. It was estimated that it had moved some 400 to 600 feet since the first flight in 1903.

Gilman began by fencing off the dune to keep out the cattle and pigs. Then, he spread two inches of mulch extending 300 feet up the hill. Next, he planted a hardy mixture of imported grass. Once that took root, he extended it up the rest of the slope.

Along with the grass, a cactus known as Prickly Pear was added. It hugs the ground and grows to the size of a pear. It may have been an effective ground cover but its up to inch long needles can be a pain to walkers. During the ensuing years it has spread throughout the park.

It took about a year for the vegetation to stabilize the hill. Work on constructing the monument itself began in February 1931.

Foundations were sunk 35 feet into the hill. The base on top of the hill consisted of a five-pointed star. Above the star rose a 60-foot high triangular pylon, making the total height of the memorial 151-feet measured from sea level. Marble from Salisbury and Mount Airy, NC were used in the construction.


On November 19, 1932, Kill Devil Hills Monument was dedicated. (On December 1, 1953 it was renamed the Wright Brothers National Memorial)

Unlike the trip for the cornerstone laying in 1928, this time the trip for the participants was much easier. The roads to Kitty Hawk were paved and there was a new bridge, appropriately named the Wright Memorial Bridge, connecting the Outer Banks with the Currituck Peninsula.

The weather, however, was another story. A heavy downpour of rain drenched a weather reduced crowd of attendees. A make shift canvas covering stretched over the speaker’s platform as a shelter was torn away by the wind.

The airship Akron was turned away. Airplanes based at the army’s Langley Field were unable to take off, but a Navy biplane and two Coast Guard seaplanes were able to fly over the celebration and dip their wings in salute.

An address by Congressman Warren was cut short. A letter from President Hoover was read by Secretary of War, Patrick Hurley and then handed to Orville, who said a simple “thank you” and placed it in his pocket. The assembled group was not aware that President Hoover thought it was absurd to build the memorial at Kitty Hawk.

Ruth Nichols unveiled the granite pylon as the National Anthem was played by the Coast Artillery Band from Fort Monroe, Va.

By 1931 Ruth Nichols had flown higher and faster than any other woman in the world. She was an early favorite to be the first woman to repeat Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight but failed when her airplane crashed in St. John, New Brunswick on her attempt on June 22, 1931.

An interesting note is that Orville was not listed on the program at his request. When it was time for him to come forward many people in the densely packed crowd did not recognize him and he had to push his way through them.

The inscription around the base of the memorial reads:

“In Commemoration of the Conquest of the Air by the Brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright – Conceived by Genius – Achieved by Dauntless Resolution and Unconquerable Faith.”

Other Wright Memorials

There is another memorial marker at Kitty Hawk that is little publicized. It is a simple obelisk in Bill Tate’s front yard that was dedicated by the citizens of Kitty Hawk in 1928. (See picture at the beginning of this article.)Tate is the one who responded to Wilbur Wright’s letter of inquiry about a suitable place to perform glider experiments and convinced him to come to Kitty Hawk.

On the obelisk is a carved image of the 1900 glider placed above the inscription that states that on this spot is where Wilbur began to assemble the Wright Brothers first experimental glider.

Dayton did belatedly dedicate their memorial to the Wrights on Orville’s 69th birthday August 19, 1940. The first proposal for a memorial in Dayton had been made in 1912. The memorial was to be built on Huffman Prairie where the Wrights conducted some 120 flights after 1903. A fund drive was underway when the great Dayton flood temporarily terminated the effort.

The completed Dayton memorial is a multifaceted thirty-foot shaft of pink North Carolina marble. It stands on a hill with a view of Huffman Prairie in the distance. Both the Monument and Huffman Prairie are now a part of the Wright Patterson Air Force Base complex.

People will again assemble around the memorials in 2003 celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the first flight.

The citizens of Dayton on October 12, 1927 donated a large tract of land for the site of the new Wright Field. The new Wright Field would house facilities for carrying on and expanding the experimental and research work of the Air Corps at McCook Field in Dayton.

This is the story behind this event beginning with the occasion of Orville Wright returning to the airplane business.

In 1917, Orville was back in the airplane business again in Dayton. This time he didn’t own the company named Dayton-Wright Airplane Company, but was a technical advisor. Six Dayton businessmen formed the new company. The president of the company was Edward Deeds, a vice-president and later president of the NCR Company. The vice-president was Charles Kettering, the noted inventor. Both were good friends of Orville.

A new factory was built at Moraine City, just south of Dayton. In addition, a flying school was formed and land procured just north of downtown Dayton and named North Field. In 1917, North field was leased to the Army and renamed McCook Field. Orville was instrumental in selecting the location.

The new investors hoped to make Dayton the manufacturing center of the United States using modern automobile production techniques to mass produce airplanes.

Fortuitously, the United States declared war on Germany five days before the new company was incorporated. Subsequently, the Dayton-Wright Company received a contract to deliver 4,000 modified British De Havilland DH-4 combat planes and 400 J-1 trainers.

The DH-4 was a 2-bay airplane with a 42-1/2 foot wing span. Its fuselage was about 30 feet long. It was armed with two Lewis guns in the rear cockpit, and one or two Marlin forward firing guns.

Following the world war the government began to figure seriously on abandonment of the McCook experimental field, where so much of useful aviation activity had been carried out during the conflict. The Miami River surrounded McCook field on one side and city of Dayton housing, the other. It could not be enlarged. The Air Staff had realized for some time that McCook Field’s physical facilities were inadequate to handle all of the work involved in the Army aviation research and procurement programs.

The search for a permanent home had begun before the end of World War I. Langley Field in Virginia was frequently mentioned as a likely site. After the war, cities across the country submitted competing proposals to the Army, offering land and facilities to house engineering activities. Dayton was faced with the prospect of losing McCook’s activities to another location.

John H. Patterson, founder and president of the National Cash Register Co (NCR), vowed to keep Army aviation in Dayton and began a local campaign to raise money to purchase land large enough for a new field. The land would then be donated to the U. S. Army with the understanding that it would become home of the Engineering Division. Orville was consulted on the selection of the this location.

Mr. Patterson died in 1922 before his plan could be carried out.

Fortunately, his son, Frederick B. Patterson, inherited both his father’s position at NCR as well as his interest in keeping Army aviation research and development activities in Dayton. In 1922, Frederick Patterson organized the Dayton Air Service Committee, a coalition of prominent Daytonians and businessmen dedicated to raising the money necessary to purchase land for the Air Service.

Calling on the citizenry of Dayton, Frederick B. Patterson laid plans for a campaign, which had in mind the acquirement of 5,000 acres of land near Dayton, to be presented to the government free of charge. The land included the existing Wilbur Wright Field that was leased by the Air Service. It also included the Wright brothers’ flying field on Huffman Prairie.

The campaign lasted two days and resulted in subscriptions totally $425,000. With this money farms were bought and land secured and accepted by the United States government. The new facility was named Wright Field in honor of the Wright brothers.

President Coolidge himself thanked President Patterson and the Dayton committee for the patriotic endeavors. Some 600 people and businesses contributed to the fund.

The dedication of the Wright Field, which was held on October 12, 1927, is a monument to the perseverance, foresight and patriotism of father and son. Photograph shows Orville Wright and Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis at the dedication

The present Wright Field occupies this land and is a fitting testimonial to the fine service rendered to the government by Dayton citizens.

The dedication ceremony was a grand occasion attended by Orville Wright and numerous military and political dignitaries. The crowd was thrilled with parachute jumps and flight demonstrations by McCook Field test pilots, including Lt. James “JImmy” Doolittle.