There can be no doubt the most significant invention of all time is man-powered flight. It is also common knowledge that the first flight occurred on December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on what became known as the Original Wright Flyer that was built by two brothers in Dayton in their bicycle shop. What is not common knowledge is that the origin of flight was hotly disputed in the patent courts beyond the life of Wilbur Wright, who died in 1912 at the age of 45.
Even after the war in the patent courts had concluded, the origin of flight was still disputed by certain individuals. One such individual was Charles Walcott, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in the 1920s. In 1928, as a reaction to the Institution’s failure to acknowledge the historic December 17, 1903 flight, Orville Wright loaned the Original Wright Flyer to the London Science Museum where it remained overseas for 20 years.
It was in 1948 that Bieser, Greer & Landis played a part in the Wright Flyer’s history. Partner, Robert Landis, Sr., was the chief negotiator and facilitator in assuring the Original Wright Flyer was returned to the United States to take its rightful place in the Smithsonian Institute as the centerpiece of the world’s most significant accomplishment.
(Gift to Bieser, Greer & Landis for negotiating the Wright Flyer from Europe to the Smithsonian Institute.)
The Original Wright Flyer was unveiled at the Smithsonian Institute on December 17, 1948, exactly 45 years after the first flight at Kitty Hawk. As a symbol of appreciation, our firm was given some of the pieces that were broken off the Wright Flyer when it was overturned by wind on the fourth flight on that historic day at Kitty Hawk in 1903. See Photo 1 above.
(Plaque transferred to the Smithsonian from the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton in 1972.)
(Pieces of the Wright Flyer authenticated by Orville Wright that were destroyed in the tragic flight of the Challenger.)
In the years after the firm received these pieces from the Wright family, other pieces of the Original Wright Flyer have been taken on other historical flights in our Nation’s history. In July of 1969, when Apollo 11 made the first landing on the moon, a similar piece of fabric and wood were taken to the surface of the moon. See Photo 2 above. In January 1986, another similar gift of fabric and wood from Mr. Wright was destroyed in the tragic flight of the space shuttle, Challenger. See Photo 3 above.
Like all of the history in our firm’s 163 years, we are proud to be a small part of the Wright Brothers’ story and other clients who have shaped our city and its influence.
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