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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Orville Wright's Flight Over City of Dayton During the Fall Festival, September 22, 1910

(Updated June 3, 2017) Neither Wilbur nor Orville attempted a flight over the city of Dayton during any of their experimentation in 1904, and 1905. All flights were kept within the confines of the field at Simms Station (Huffman Prairie). During this period of perfecting their machine, a flight over the city would have been entirely too dangerous, and also would have been contrary to their desire to perform their flights "under the radar". At this point, publicity was not what they were seeking. Even during the Welcome Home Celebration of June of 1909, there were no demonstration flights for the townspeople; there simply wasn't time in the Brother's busy schedule.  But Orville did fly over the city the following year, and most of Dayton's citizens were able to witness the event. The flight occurred during the Fall Festival, on September 22, 1910.

1910 postcard showing night scene of the Dayton Ohio Fall Festival, from author's collection.

Eye witness account written during the event of September 22, 1910, waiting for Wright to appear, from author's collection.
From the Dayton Daily News article of Thursday, September 22, 1910 titled "Fascinated Thousands See Orville Wright Guide Flyer Over the City"- 
"The course as outlined by Mr. Wright was over the Miami river from the confluence of the Mad and Miami rivers to the Third street bridge, thence over Third street to Williams street, and from there to the Wright home, over which he circled for the return. At the start of the trip the altitude was 300 feet over the city and on the outward journey an altitude of 3500 feet was reached, after the machine had passed over the exposition grounds and reached the city limits.....A dense crowd had been fringing the river banks, the bridges and the roofs of high buildings for hours before it was rewarded with the glimpse of the bird man....When the aeroplane was over the city the faint crackling staccato of its unmuffled motor, like distant musketry, could be heard by some, and the aviator could be seen moving in the machine. Cheers went up from the crowd all along the course, but it is doubtful if any sound reached Mr. Wright, but the screaming factory and railway whistles....The aeroplane was followed into the city by a stream of hundreds of automobiles. The aviator passed most of them not far from the testing grounds of his return to Simms Station. The average speed of the best automobiles was 25 miles per hour, with the roads such as they are in the vicinity of the station. The aeroplane made the entire trip of 22 miles in a trifle less than 25 minutes."

Dayton Daily News, September 22, 1910, courtesy of Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library The Wright Brothers Collection, Wright Brothers Scrapbook, Series VII, Subseries 13, Box27, Scrapbook, 1890-1926.

In her book, What Dreams We Have, The Wright Brothers and Their Hometown of Dayton, Ohio, Ann Honious, 2003, pg 167, Ann writes "As part of the Greater Dayton Association industrial exhibit in September, Orville made a flight over the city on September 22. Orville took off from Huffman Prairie Flying Field and flew into the city...Edward Deeds recalled in later years that everyone who witnessed the flight developed either lumps in their throats or tears in their eyes at the sight they were witnessing, for they were all experiencing something that most people believed would never occur in their lifetimes." 

Eyewitness account of September 22, 1910 Wright flight over Dayton.
Postcard mailed September 23, 1910, "We think lots of our boys." Eyewitness account on back, below, of September 22 flight over Dayton. 

Mailed September 23, 1910, "Dear Uncle & Aunt, I received your postal and was glad to hear from you. We are having our Fall Festival this week. Wright's were flying in their machine yesterday. You ought to come in and see them some time...." From author's collection.

Orville's father Milton wrote in his 1910 diary,
Thursday, September 22- "Wilbur comes home from Chicago, before breakfast. Orville flew to Dayton, and back to Simms, 2000 feet high coming, and 4000 feet going. 100,000 people saw him fly. At 5:00, Orville comes on his flyer, about 2000 feet high, turns at Williams Street, goes near our Home, flies along Third Street to the limits of the City, and rising to about 4000 feet, goes up Mad River to their grounds. Came nine miles in ten minutes, returned slower. Many Thousands saw him. (This was Thursday, 22nd)
Saturday, September 24- "I was at home. Katharine went to Simms and flew a thousand feet high with Orville, last evening. The papers estimate 100,000 witnesses, the 22nd, to Orville's flight."

Below is a neat eyewitness account of this September 24th flight when Orville and Katharine flew.

Postcard mailed Sept 24, 1910, eyewitness account- "Dear Bro- We were out at Simm's Station at the Wright Testing grounds yesterday. Saw Orville W. make two perfect flights. The day was ideal for flying and his machines worked perfectly, he went at all heights- as high as 2500 ft. Took his sister on a 40 minute fly. The folks were at Festival, didn't go out. Sis. From author's collection.

Flight at Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio, 1910.

September 24, 1910 issue of The Dayton Journal, last day of the Fall Festival, from author's collection.

Modern view of Dayton, approximate 1910 flight path from Huffman Prairie to location of Wright's Home and Cycle Shop.

Post updated June 3, 2017- Added September 23, 1910 postcard.
Post updated May 31, 2017
Originally posted June 8, 2014

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