EXHIBITION PRESS KIT
• Growing up, the Wright brothers had private nicknames
for each other. Wilbur (1867-1912) was known as “Ullam,”
short for Jullam, which is German for William. Orville (1871-1948)
was known as “Bubbo” or “Bubs,” Wilbur’s
pronunciation of “brother” when Orville was a baby.
• The premiere patent for
all airplanes was filed by the Wright brothers on March 23, 1903,
several months before the first powered flight. The patent, based
largely on the control features of the 1902 Wright glider, was
granted May 22, 1906.
• The lift balance displayed
in the exhibition, along with the other crucial wind tunnel testing
instruments used by the Wrights to unlock the secrets of aerodynamics,
were lost for decades. They were found by Orville in 1946 inside
an old typewriter case he was about to throw out.
• John T. Daniels (1884-1948),
the North Carolina man who took the famous photograph of the first
powered flight on Dec. 17, 1903, was almost killed a few hours
later when, after the fourth flight, wind picked up the unmanned
Flyer. Daniels grabbed one of the airplane’s struts and
fell inside the machine as it was tossed violently across the
sand. Orville Wright wrote: “His escape was miraculous,
as he was in with the engine and chains.”
• No recordings of Wilbur
and Orville Wright’s voices are known to exist despite both
men having lived well into the age of recorded sound.
• Orville Wright was pilot
in the first airplane crash that resulted in a fatality. Killed
was Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge (1882-1908), who died as a passenger
at Fort Myer, Va., on Sept. 17, 1908, during an Army trial of
the brothers’ new military airplane. Orville spent seven
weeks in a hospital with a broken thigh, broken ribs, an injured
back and head wounds.
• For several years, the Smithsonian
Institution credited late Smithsonian Secretary Samuel P. Langley
(1834-1906) with creating the first powered machine “capable”
of flight, although Langley’s piloted Aerodrome was a failure.
Out of frustration, Orville Wright sent the 1903 Flyer to the
Science Museum in London for display in 1928. The Smithsonian
finally acknowledged in 1942 the Wrights as the first to achieve
powered flight and Orville Wright soon approved returning the
Flyer to America and giving it to the Smithsonian. The airplane
was delivered in November 1948, delayed by World War II. Orville
Wright died less than ten months earlier.
Brothers Exhibition Press Kit