Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer was Nearly Destroyed in a Flood

In 1914 a monstrous flood hit Dayton Ohio. The streets became rivers with people being rescued with canoes or anything that would float. A levee just outside of town collapsed sending a torrent of water toward the town and the old Wright Cycle Shop. Behind the the shop was a shed and in that shed were the glass plates of the famous 1903 flight in Kitty Hawk North Carolina. Also in the shed were wooden crates. In those wooden crates was the 1903 Flyer itself.

The Wright Brothers had crated it up after the flight and thought nothing of putting the most famous airplane in the world in a storage shed behind their bicycle business. The shed could have been opened by anyone in the eleven years since Orville took to the air for twelve seconds on December 17 1903. Someone could have easily stolen the airplane. It was not even locked. But now it was in danger of being destroyed by the water rushing through the streets of Dayton.

Wilbur Wright had died in 1912. Orville was frantically trying to rescue his father who had been stranded in the family home. After putting his father in a canoe and getting him to safety he had to wait for the flood waters to recede. Hundreds died and the city of Dayton was devastated .Orville reached the shed the next day and opened the door. The glass plates had been submerged but the most famous photo of all taken on December 17 1903 of the First Twelve Seconds of flight had survived. The crates were water logged and he realized they had been under water from the layer of mud over the top.

When he finally opened the first crate he found the 1903 Flyer wet but undamaged. The mud had acted as an insulator and kept the water from pouring in. The most famous airplane in the world had survived and would eventually be given to the Smithsonian for safekeeping.

Wright Brothers Wrong Story

Books by William Hazelgrove