Saturday, May 23, 2015

Retro Saturday: The Wright Brothers at Huffman Prairie

Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: PublicResourceOrg YouTube channel.

This week's Retro Saturday is a 25-minute 1988 U.S. Air Force film titled, The Wright Brothers at Huffman Prairie.

In popular culture, the Wright Brothers are associated with Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, but most of their pioneering research was near their hometown of Dayton, Ohio in a pasture called Huffman Prairie.

The Wrights were looking for a test site closer to home. They found Huffman Prairie. The site wasn't ideal, but it was much closer than travelling all the way to North Carolina.

Today's commercial space entrepeneurs have echoes in the early 20th Century's aviation pioneers.

The Wright Brothers sought to sell their earliest biplanes to the U.S. Army. When their own government showed no interest, they went to Europe and were warmly received.

The film doesn't mention the brothers' rivalries and patent wars with Glenn Curtiss, nor does it mention the fatal accident in September 1908 with Orville Wright at the controls. Army Lt. Thomas Selfridge was killed after the biplane lost a propellor in flight. Orville survived with broken bones.

Huffman Prairie today is part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. An interpretive center is one of five sites around Dayton that can be visited by the public.

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