Day 84 - Dayton - Wright's and AF Museum

Trip Start May 30, 2013
Trip End Aug 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Ohio
Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Linda decided to stay with the RV, do laundry and read -- kind of like a day off since she had little interest in the Dayton museums and did not want to stand on her feet all day.  This has been a long trip and we will be glad to get back to beds that don't move.

I headed for the Aviation Trail Interpretive Center in Dayton, OH,  It is the place where Orville and Wilbur Wright had one of there Bicycle Shops.  On exhibit is a 1902 replica Wright Glider - the first glider to achieve controlled flight. 

A number of inventions were key to allow the Wrights to make there aviation advancements.  The first  invention, was in 1876 when  Nikolaus August Otto, a German, developed the first internal combustion engine [replacing steam engines].  Next the safety bicycles replaced the huge front wheel bikes with two equal size wheels that made bikes easy to ride [The Wrights bought one and decided to open a bike shop].  Third the hot air balloon developed by the French in 1783  peaked the world interest in flight.

The Wrights were originally introduced to flight when their father gave them a toy helicopters on a stick. The Wrights had a very successful bicycle building and sales shop -- dealing in high end custom made bikes.

The Wrights were interested in flight so they wrote the Smithsonian seeking to find out as much as they could   They attacked the problem of aircraft control -- believing if they can solve the control issues all else will be easy.  They could not find an engine so they built one - about 200 pounds and developed 8 horsepower.  The propeller needed to be more than a screw drilling through the air, it needed lift.  The prop and the wing were helped by the Wright's invention of a wind tunnel.

The 1903 flight was just a start.  They did not have a flyable aircraft.  So they went back to Dayton and started working on their problem.  First they wanted to reproduce the Kill Devil Hills flight.  They had trouble because  the wind would change directions making the rail take off impractical.  The Wrights were committed to the rail and developed a catapult system that got the plane in the air.   But control problems persisted and short flights.  So they tinkered with the 1903 design until for about a year with limited success until a gust of wind caused a crash that totaled the plane.

The Wrights went back to the drawing board - evaluated the planes weaknesses and built a new plane with a new design,  The lengthened the body, refined the controls and got a more powerful engine.  Their flight times went from 3-5 minutes to 39 minutes and made over 20 circles of the airfield.  It landed because it ran out of gas.  After that flight  they stopped flying and concentrated on their patents,  In 1907 they got a patent for their flying machine. 

 So they started building planes for sale.  They not only had to build planes they had to teach people to fly them. The Wright's wanted to develop a practical flying machine that could be sold. Their first sale at to the army signal corps.
Next I went to the   "National Museum - United States Air Force" across town. The tour of the galleries were like a world history lesson. The galleries are -- early years, WWI, WWII, Korean war, Southeast Asia war, cold war, missiles and space.

The highlights were the Wright flier sold to the Army, the WWI Jenny, WWI bi-plane twing engine bomber, WWII B-24 bomber used in Europe, WWII B-27 that dropped the A-bomb, P-41 Mustang, B-52 bomber, B-1bomber, B-2 Stealth bomber, blackbird, and all the fighters from each era.

All of these and much more are exhibited under cover in a series of huge hangers. It would take a week to go through the museum and read each description and exhibit in the museum. Old air force guys were in hog heaven.

I took a tour where the guide explained facts about some of the more important planes and the roll they played.  An interesting story was how the B-52 bomber was acquired.   Boeing submitted a bit to the air force for a bomber that was propeller driven.  The LTC in charge of the procurement told Boeing that he really thought that the plane should be a jet [like the Germans developed just before the end of WWII].  Boeing came back with 38 page plans and a wood mock up by the end of a three day weekend -- meeting all the specifications.  But they told the government that they would need one thing not in their specs - air to air refueling. Of course Boeing could sell the air tanker for the refueling too -- and they did.  Both systems are still in service today.

Tomorrow we break camp and go to the Indianapolis speedway racing museum,

More pics later --

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Jan B. on

Enjoyed your info. Rob would love to see that

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