Wilbur Wright Honored at Carillon Historical Park

The history of the invention of the airplane more often than not brings to mind the Wright Brothers – Wilbur and Orville…

The history of the invention of the airplane more often than not brings to mind the Wright Brothers – Wilbur and Orville – and their innovative developments leading to the legendary event of the first heavier-than-air, controlled and powered flight on December 17, 1903. The Wright Brothers were born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, and their ground-breaking work was carried out there. Sadly, Wilbur Wright didn’t live to see the impact of his work on the world, as he passed away at the age of 45 on May 30, 1912, reportedly from typhoid. One hundred years later, to commemorate the life and achievements of this visionary inventor, a team of graduate students in the Public History program of Wright State University have compiled an exhibit focusing on Wilbur Wright which will be on display at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton until the end of 2012.

Wilbur and Orville’s father, Bishop Milton Wright, upon the death of his son wrote in his diary that Wilbur’s life had been short, but full of consequences. The exhibit uses this observation in the title of the exhibit “Wilbur Wright: A Life of Consequence”. The exhibit focuses on Wilbur as an individual as opposed to the way he is usually seen, as part of a team. Visitors to the exhibit will gain insight into his character, his life as a son, brother and uncle, as well as his legacy.

Certainly, Wilbur Wright’s death had a profound impact on his hometown and made headlines around the world. The Woodland Cemetery, which organized the 100th anniversary memorial service, noted in a statement that following Wilbur’s death thousands of people lined up to honor him as his body lay in state in Dayton’s First Presbyterian Church. Church bells tolled across the city at 3:30pm. Streetcars and trains stopped and businesses closed while Dayton citizens observed five minutes of silence as a token of respect. On June 1, 2012, a memorial service was held at 3pm at his graveside in Woodland Cemetery, with several churches tolling bells, while people observed a moment of silence.

Carillon Historical Park covers 65-acres and features 25 special exhibit buildings for visitors to explore. One of the highlights of the museum complex is the actual 1905 Wright Flyer III which took to the air with Orville as its pilot on June 23, 1905. Further record-breaking flights took place that year at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field outside Dayton, Ohio. The 1905 Wright Flyer III is the only airplane designated as a US National Historic Landmark.