The Feud Finally Ends
The Wright Flyer would remain in England until 1948. In its 1942 annual report, the Smithsonian finally published the article, entitled "The 1914 Tests of the Langley Aerodrome," recanting its views on the Langley matter that Orville wanted. In 1943 he made plans to have the Flyer returned to the United States and transferred to the Smithsonian for public display.

During World War II, the airplane was safely stored with other British national treasures in an underground chamber about 100 miles from London. (Not in the London subway as is sometimes asserted.) After the war, Orville agreed to leave the Flyer at the Science Museum until they could make a copy of it for permanent display.

Smithsonian 1942 annual report.
Smithsonian curator Paul E. Garber (right) escorts the Wright Flyer to Washington, D.C, during Operation "Homecoming" in 1948.
Operation "Homecoming"
Orville died suddenly of a heart attack in January 1948 while the Wright Flyer was still in England, leaving it to the executors of his estate to fulfill his wishes and bring the treasured artifact home. It was installed at the Smithsonian in an elaborate ceremony on December 17, 1948, 45 years to the day after its history-making flights.

Sir Oliver Franks, the British ambassador, eloquently and succinctly summed up the significance of the airplane. "It is a little as if we had before us the original wheel." The Flyer had completed its transformation from invention into icon.

Installation ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution, December 17, 1948, 45 years to the day after the historic first flight.
Installation Ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution
Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis can be seen hanging behind the Flyer. When informed that his airplane would be moved back to make room for the Wright Flyer, Lindbergh said he would be honored to have the Spirit share the hall with the world's first airplane.