Few Know that the Airplane was Invented in Dayton, Ohio

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in History of Flight

Recent survey of a sample of the U.S. population found that 80 % of the people questioned knew that Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the airplane, but only 14 % knew that they did it in Ohio. Half of the people that knew about Wilbur and Orville thought that they invented the first powered airplane in North Carolina.

Surprisingly, only 20 % of the respondents from the five states surrounding Ohio knew that the airplane was invented in Ohio.

The facts are that the Wrights conceived of and built the first airplane in Dayton, Ohio and flew it for the first time at Kitty Hawk, NC., in 1903. They transported their Flyer to NC to take advantage of the better winds, the soft sand and the privacy that Kitty Hawk provided.

The survey was conducted by Visual Marketing Associates, a Dayton firm, and paid for by the nonprofit Aviation Heritage Foundation of Dayton. The national survey was conducted by telephone over a three-day period.

Dayton’s centennial celebration committee (Inventing Flight) spent some $2 million on national advertising. Apparently it wasn’t that effective.

The Heritage Foundation, a recently formed organization that has combined a number of organizations interested in the Wright brothers, plans to launch a new aggressive image-building and marketing effort to position Dayton as the home of the Wright brothers. The survey was the first step.

The Dayton area and neighboring counties have recently been designated as a National Aviation Heritage area. As a result the Foundation will receive $165,000 in federal funds this year and has raised some $250,000 in private funds. They hope to receive a total of federal and private funds of at least $500,000 in 2006.

The Kitty Hawk Flyer was an experimental airplane that demonstrated that a heavier-than-air powered flight was possible. But, it was far from being a practical airplane.

After the Wrights returned to Dayton, they devoted two years to experimentation and design changes at Huffman Prairie, now a part of Wright-Patterson Air Force. The 1905 Flyer, during its final flight over Huffman Prairie on October 5, 1905, flew over 24 miles in almost 39 minutes at a speed of 38-mph. The local newspaper wrote that they were making sensational flights every day. The Wrights were pleased that they now had a practical airplane that they could market.

The 1905 airplane is one of the prized possessions on display in Dayton.

Previous post:

Next post: