The History of Aviation in Dayton, OH

When most people think about the history of aviation in the United States, their minds turn toward that fateful day in Kitty Hawk, NC, when an enterprising pair of brothers took to the skies in the first airplane. For 120 glorious feet, the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, took turns soaring about 10 feet above the ground on that blistering winter day.

While most people remember the names of the brothers responsible for that monumental occasion, few realized that the idea and skills for the first flight were bred in a city more than 650 miles to the west. Welcome to a brief history of aviation in Dayton, OH.

Birthplace of aviation

There’s a reason that Ohio proudly claims the mantle of the birthplace of aviation. Though Wilbur was born in Indiana in 1867, he was just a small child when the family moved to Dayton, where Orville was born in 1871. The Wright brothers’ father had a position as a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, which meant the family moved around for the first few years of the Wright brothers’ lives, but their strongest attachment was to Dayton.

First manufacturer

The first flight may have taken place in Kitty Hawk, NC, but when the time came to build airplanes on a professional level, the Wright brothers took their talents back to their hometown. It was here where the great history of aviation in Dayton, OH truly begins.

After building one factory in 1910, the brothers quickly added another the following year to keep up with demand.

The newest shipping route

It was during this timeframe in 1910 when the Wright brothers commissioned Philip Parmelee to fly 200 pounds of silk from Dayton to Columbus. This became the first cargo flight for any plane. There was no insulation, and no lighting for Parmelee to guide his path.

First in chutes

It wasn’t long after flight captured the imagination of the American public that people began thinking about ways to make aviation safer. In 1919, two civilian contractors working at Dayton’s McCook Field conducted the first successful test jump of a free-fall parachute.

It was just three years later, in 1922, that the first emergency parachute saved the life of Lieutenant Harold R. Harris, who jumped from his plane when the control stick malfunctioned. There was no ejector seat. He literally had to jump from his plane at 2,500 feet in the air.

Continuing the grand tradition

At First Flight Aviation, we’re proud to continue the noble tradition of aviation in Dayton, OH. We’re a full-service aviation establishment operating out of the historic Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport. Since 1981, we have worked to meet the needs of aircraft enthusiasts of all kinds. We can provide top-notch airplane sales, service and parts, plus a state-of-the-art flight school in Dayton, OH for those curious to learn the ins and outs of aviation.

Veteran pilots and rookie aviators alike will find so much to love at First Flight Aviation. Call today to schedule an appointment or learn more about what we can offer.

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