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Wilbur Wright was born April 16, 1867, his brother Orville Wright on August 19, 1871. They, along with sister Katharine and brothers Reuchlin and Lorin, were raised near Millville, Indiana and in Dayton, Ohio by their mother, Susan Wright, and father, Milton Wright, bishop of the United Brethren Church. As young men, Wilbur and Orville launched a printing business and a bicycle shop. An interest in aeronautics, spurred by the accounts of the experiments of Otto Lilienthal, prompted Wilbur to request information on the subject from the Smithsonian Institution in 1899. In August of 1900, Wilbur built his first glider and that year and the next the brothers tested gliders at Kitty Hawk. The Wrights constructed a wind tunnel to gather accurate aeronautical data and, benefiting from this new information, another glider was built in 1902. In 1903, the brothers were ready to began construction of a powered craft. With the assistance of mechanic Charles Taylor, they added a 4-cylinder, 12-horsepower engine and propellers to the 1903 Flyer and it was sent to Kitty Hawk for testing. At 10:35 am, December 17, on Kill Devil Hill, Orville achieved a flight of 12 seconds--traveling a distance of 120 feet. By 1908 the Wrights were demonstrating their machines in Europe. The U.S. Army Signal Corps advertised for bids for a two-seat observation aircraft and in 1908 and 1909, the Wrights flew at official Army trials at Fort Myer, Virginia. (It was here that powered flight's first fatality occurred: the tragic death of Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge.) The Army was to purchase the Military Flyer (Signal Corps No. 1) for $30,000 in 1909. In that same year, The Wright Company was established to manufacture Wright aircraft. Wilbur died in Dayton, Ohio on May 30,1912. Orville Wright would live until January 30, 1948.

Identifier

NASM.XXXX.0376

Processing Information

Arranged, described, and encoded by Jessamyn Lloyd, 2018.

Date

1909-1945

Provenance

Various Donors, Gift, unknown, NASM.XXXX.0376

Extent

0.25 Cubic feet (1 slim legal document box)

Summary

This collection consists mostly of correspondence between the Wright brothers and the following people: J.W. See; Ralph H. Upson; Henry Ford; Ernest Jones; Frank Coffyn; O.G. Simmons; C.R. Peterkin; Otto Mallery; Maynard; and Lester Gardner. Also included are sketches, an NAA letter signed by witnesses: Etheridge, Dough and Moore attesting to the 1903 flight, and the Wright Brothers' original bid for the military contract.

Restrictions

No restrictions on access

Type

Collection descriptions

Archival materials

Correspondence

Sketches

Arrangement note

Correspondence is arranged by recipient, other materials are arranged by topic.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists mostly of correspondence between the Wright brothers and the following people: J.W. See; Ralph H. Upson; Henry Ford; Ernest Jones; Frank Coffyn; O.G. Simmons; C.R. Peterkin; Otto Mallery; Maynard; and Lester Gardner. Also included are sketches, an NAA letter signed by witnesses: Etheridge, Dough and Moore attesting to the 1903 flight, and the Wright Brothers' original bid for the military contract.

Genre/Form

Correspondence

Sketches

Rights

Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.

Names

Coffyn, Frank, 1878-1960

Ford, Henry, 1863-1947

Jones, Ernest La Rue, 1883-1955

Peterkin, C. R.

See, James Waring, 1850-1920.

Upson, Ralph Hazlett, 1888-1968

Wright, Orville, 1871-1948

Wright, Wilbur, 1867-1912

Topics Aeronautics
Airplanes
Aeronautics, Military
Aeronautics -- 1903-1916
Airplanes -- Design and construction

Citation

Wright Brothers Collection, NASM.XXXX.0376, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives

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