On Saturday afternoon, I got to stand in the presence of an airplane that the Wright Brothers considered their most important aircraft. It is the 1905 Wright Flyer III and it is the only airplane designated a National Historic Landmark.
It should come as no surprise that it is in Dayton – Orville and Wilbur’s hometown – at a place called Carillon Park.
I’ll stop here to say that telling you about the park will take a few tries because there are so many special things to see there. It’s like Disney for middle aged history buffs!
As part of this complex you’ll find the Wright Brothers National Museum. This complex includes a museum filled with artifacts plus an exact reproduction of the brothers’ most famous Dayton bicycle shop. They moved a few times but this specific shop is where their most important aviation work was done. It’s a rebuild because Henry Ford swooped in and bought the original for his Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum up in Michigan. That place is pretty special to visit too.
The bicycle shop is set up to represent how their shop would have looked in late 1901 complete with work benches full of tools and a small office.
But I digress.
The centerpiece of this museum is this restored plane in a building that Orville Wright helped design before his death in 1948. He oversaw the aircraft restoration too. They call this his final project and it is quite the legacy.
The room is quiet and dimly lit. The best way to describe this place is as a giant swimming pool with a plane set inside and a walkway around.
This is a beautiful way to see this plane because it gives you a great view of the mechanisms involved in controlling the plane.
There are a number of artifacts including a scrap of fabric from the original Kitty Hawk plane, a number of their possessions and photos including one of Orville with Amelia Earhart in 1929. There’s even a rare bicycle they designed.
Stay tuned for more about Carillon Park. It’s pretty fabulous with all its unique buildings and museums. It’s a celebration of the contributions Dayton has made to the world. Cost of admission? Just $12 for adults with special rates for seniors and kids.