Wright Vertical 4, In-line 4 Engine

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This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Boeing Aviation Hangar

Because the Wright Brothers’ initial and primary objective was demonstration of heavier-than-air flight, their early engines, which they designed and manufactured themselves, were very similar and rudimentary. For example, they did not have carburetors. This Wright Vertical 4, the oldest existing U.S. Navy aircraft engine, powered the Navy's first Wright airplane, the B-1 hydro-aero plane. In 1912 the B-1 crashed in San Diego Bay during a training flight. Navy mechanics repaired the heavily damaged aircraft and its engine. However, attempts to solder and weld the aluminum fragments to the crankcase proved impossible, so an electrician fabricated a sheet metal patch and bolted it to the lower side of the crankcase.

This engine is the only known artifact to have survived from the Navy's first aviation training program, during which routine flights and accidents resulted in a cycle of repair and reconstruction of aircraft and overhaul of many engines.