On this day 116 years ago, two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, wrote their names in history as the first people to achieve controlled, powered, heavier-than-air flight. Orville Wright, the younger of the two brothers, spent 12 seconds in the air, traveling 120 feet over the windy sand dunes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
To celebrate Wright Brothers Day, which was approved by joint resolution of the United States Congress in 1963, we’re looking back at a few of the ways GE Aviation and its employees maintain their connections to the pioneers of flight. (Photo: The Wright Brothers’ first controlled, powered, heavier-than-air flight in North Carolina, December 17, 1903. Credit: Library of Congress.)
The Day Orville Wright Visited GE Aviation’s Historic Headquarters
GE Aviation’s longtime Evendale, Ohio, headquarters are located just an hour’s drive south of the Wright Brothers’ home in Dayton, Ohio. But before GE Aviation began operations in Evendale in 1948, the Wright Brothers’ original airplane company churned out more than 3,000 radial engines a month in Building 700 at the Evendale facility during World War II. Although the Wright Brothers had sold off their company by that point in time, Orville famously made an appearance at the building’s grand opening in 1941—and managed to spark a fascinating urban legend.
The Wright Stuff: Part of GE Aviation’s Past Unveiled
GE Aviation still pays tribute to the original occupants of Building 700 today. In 2019, the company unveiled a recovered and restored mural of the original Wright Aircraft Engines logo that adorned the floor of the Building 700 lobby in 1941.
AvGeek Delight: A Trip Through the History of Aviation
Being so close to the Wright Brothers’ hometown of Dayton, GE Aviation’s local employees have the perfect excuse to go immerse themselves in Wright Brothers history every once in a while. In celebration of the company’s 100-year anniversary this year, employees took a tour of the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop and museum. They also stopped to see GE Aviation technology at the nearby National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the GE Aviation EPISCenter on the University of Dayton campus.
Aviation Page Turners: Your Favorite AvGeek Reads
Not only to GE Aviation’s employees love seeing the Wright Brothers’ history, they also love reading about it. In September, employees voted David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers as their favorite aviation-themed book of all time. Dawne Dewey, who oversees Wright State University’s Special Collections and Archives, spoke with The Blog earlier this year about the Wright Brothers research she helped McCullough complete for his book.
What the Wright Brothers may not have immediately known after completing that first flight 116 years ago was the industry they sparked. Today, billions of passengers have experienced flight in one form or another in their lifetimes. At the forefront of it all? Two bicycle repairmen from Dayton, Ohio.