The Wrights thought of their three earlier experimental gliders simply as research tools, and discarded them at Kitty Hawk when they were finished flying them. The brothers did save the breakthrough 1903 Flyer, but their rather indifferent initial treatment of the world's first airplane suggests that they did not consider it a national treasure until quite some years later.
The Wright brothers' Dayton bicycle shop in which they built their aircraft.
Stored Behind the Bike Shop
The Wrights packed the damaged Flyer in its shipping crates at Kitty Hawk and stored it in a shed behind their Dayton bicycle shop. It remained largely untouched for 13 years. The engine crankshaft and flywheel were loaned to an aeronautical display in New York in 1906, but were never returned and disappeared. Other than that, the Wright Flyer remained unseen until 1916.
The Wright Flyer's original crankshaft and flywheel on display at an exhibition in New York, 1906.
The Great Flood
In 1913, Dayton, Ohio, was inundated when the Miami River overflowed its banks. The Flyer sat in its crates under nearly a dozen feet of water and mud for several weeks. The shed was eventually torn down and the Flyer moved, still in the same water-damaged crates, to a barn at nearby 15 North Broadway in Dayton. In 1916, Orville replaced the barn with a more substantial brick building, a laboratory for his personal use, in which the airplane was stored.