Orville Wright
Burial Location Visited
Dayton, Ohio April 21, 2010


The burial plot of brothers Orville                                               Wilbur and Orville's first and most famous
and Wilbur Wright, who were                                                     aircraft, the Wright Flyer, is held by the
responsible for the first heavier-                                                 Smithsonian Institution's National Air and
than-air, machine-powered flight.                                               Space Museum.


Orville was the younger of the two famous                                  Visitors to the aviator's grave have left
brothers.                                                                                  pennies on his footstone.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Aviator and inventor Orville Wright came into this world on August 19, 1871, four years after the birth of his equally famous brother, Wilbur. The boys were the sons of Milton Wright and his wife, Susan. The Wright family originally resided in Indiana, but moved to Dayton, Ohio so that Milton, a minister, could work on editing a church's newspaper. Orville was born in Dayton several years later. All of the Wright children were encouraged to learn and explore by their parents, which undoubtedly played a role in the interest Wilbur and Orville had in the area of flight. In 1878, when the two were still youths, their father presented them with a toy helicopter that was based on designs of French inventor Alphonse Pénaud. The device was constructed of paper, cork, a rubber band, and bamboo and certainly intrigued both Wilbur and Orville. The two were inspired enough to build their own model helicopters, with Orville designing them at school when he was supposed to be studying. When the family moved back to Indiana a few years later, Orville began to build kites and sold them to his classmates and friends.

* Orville went to school until the end of his junior year. Rather than continue the pursuit of an education, he began using a printing press he had built to publish a paper called the West Side News. Three years later, in 1892, the inseparable brothers began to repair and sell bicycles. It was a few years later that the two actually began to construct their own bicycles to sell. The bikes made by the Wright brothers were built to the specifications of their customers and became popular. Something that was used on many of the brothers' bicycles was the self-oiling wheel hub, an invention of Orville's.

* Wilbur and Orville once again became interested in flight in 1896, when a famed German glider pilot died when he fell from his flying apparatus. Despite the man's tragic fate, the Wright brothers were optimistic that a heaver-than-air aircraft could achieve sustained flight with a person aboard. The two did lots of research and the elder of the two wrote to the Smithsonian Institution in 1899 asking for information about aeronautics. The death of another renowned glider pilot that year only reaffirmed Wilbur and Orville's idea that people had to be able to control aircrafts in order for flight to be successful. Using money brought via their bicycle shop business to fund their experiments, the brothers began running some tests. However, they wanted to conduct their experiments in a place that was more windy than their hometown of Dayton. Wilbur wrote to the chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau asking for a list of windy rural areas in the country, and a town that was on the chief's list was Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

* In the dunes of Kitty Hawk, Orville and Wilbur conducted numerous experiments with kites and gliders they had constructed. They recorded everything that happened during each and every one of their tests so that they could use the information in future experiments. The two brothers built a wind tunnel and used it to conduct more tests. Using model planes and gliders in the wind tunnel, they calculated lift and drag factors and determined how the wings could best be designed for sustained flight. Orville and Wilbur tested another glider in Kitty Hawk in 1902 before they returned to Dayton. There, in the back room of their cycle shop, the Wright brothers built the frame for what would be the first successful airplane. Its engine, which they also built themselves, had four cylinders and 12 horsepower. When it was done, they had it shipped in pieces to their camp in North Carolina. After assembly in Kitty Hawk, the aircraft was ready to go. Wilbur was scheduled to pilot the device, but it stalled during takeoff and sustained some damage. Three days later, after repairs had been made, the Wright Flyer took off for the very first time, but with Orville at the controls. The run lasted only twelve seconds, but it was the world's first heavier-than-air, machine powered flight.

* The Wright brothers continued with their experiments after the Wright Flyer's successful flight in 1903. Many improvements were made to subsequent aircrafts, including the enlargement of the front elevator on the Wright Flyer II. Orville was piloting the Wright Flyer III in June of 1905 when the aircraft went into a nosedive and crashed. He was seriously injured, but did recover and was back flying within a few months. In November, to prevent competitors from finding out the secrets to their success, the pair disassembled their latest airplane. In 1908, the brothers signed an agreement to provide the U.S. Army with an aircraft capable of carrying a passenger in addition to a pilot. The following month, they signed a contract with some French investors also interested in the pair's planes. Wilbur and Orville reconstructed the Wright Flyer III (with some modifications) soon afterward, and Orville began conducting trial runs for the U.S. Army later on. He was an engineering consultant during World War I, and, when it became disputed whether or not he and Wilbur were behind the first heavier-than-air, machine-powered flight, Orville dedicated his life to setting the record straight. He was stricken with a heart attack in 1948 and passed away three days later. He was interred in Dayton's Woodlawn Cemetery scant feet from Wilbur, who had died in 1912.

Spouse: None

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