John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers National Museum
The John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers National Museum boasts the largest collection of Wright brothers-related artifacts in the world. One item on display at the museum, the 1905 Wright Flyer III, is the only airplane to be designated a National Historic Landmark. Orville Wright personally worked to ensure that the plane would end up in the hands of the Carillon Historical Park, a museum complex with over thirty buildings including Wright Hall within its center. Orville also helped design Wright Hall but died two years before the Historical Park opened in 1950. The complex also includes a replica of Wilbur and Orville’s 1901 bicycle shop among the complex's buildings and interpretive historical markers.
Backstory and Context
Wilbur Wright was born in Indiana in 1867. Four years later, Orville was born in Dayton, Ohio. Their father, Milton Wright, was a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. He often traveled for his work and would bring back small gifts for his five children. In 1878, he brought them a toy helicopter that fascinated young Orville and Wilbur. This interest in aviation stayed with them as they grew up.
In 1884, Orville quit high school and opened a print shop. One year later, Wilbur was badly injured in an ice hockey game and fell into a deep depression. He also quit school and stayed home to care for their ailing mother, Susan Koerner Wright. She died in 1889. That same year, the two brothers started their own newspaper, the West Side News. Wilbur acted as editor, and Orville served as the publisher. In 1892, the brothers started their next venture, a bicycle shop. It was around this time that Orville and Wilbur began to experiment with aviation.
In 1900, Wilbur and Orville decided to attempt flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where steady winds would offer extra lift. Crowds often formed whenever the Wright brothers tested their latest inventions. On December 17, 1903, viewers were rewarded by seeing the first successful flight of a powered machine. In fact, there were four brief flights that day.
Their success led to a great deal of fame but was also met with some skepticism. So, the brothers took off to Europe where they demonstrated their invention and were praised by the press. After a year of selling airplanes in Europe, Orville and Wilbur returned to the United States in 1909. In 1912, Wilbur died of typhoid fever. Orville, who had never been an adept businessman, sold their company in 1915. Orville died of a second heart attack in 1948.
Dayton now home to Wright Brothers National Museum. Dayton Local. September 01, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.daytonlocal.com/community/dayton-home-to-wright-brothers-national-museum.asp.
Wright Brothers Makeovers. Ohio Traveler. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.ohiotraveler.com/wright-brothers-makeovers/.