courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir
Eleven old time Wright pilots, who flew the Army airplane of 1909 or the Model B of 1910 and on, sat
in that section of the Smithsonian galleries reserved for the EBs, directly under that first airplane of 1903, at the presentation exercises,
December 17, 1948, along with 43 other EBs--wives, friends and guests and EB candidates additional, and all the other distinguished
guests, none of whom had ever seen this original Wright (unless they had visited England's Science Museum)--a machine which
appeared but little more extraordinary than its successors.
Present were America's first woman pilot and the first women pilots of Curtiss and Curtiss-type and Wright airplanes.
On this day the venerable plane was presented to the National Air Museum by the heirs of Orville Wright in an hour's impressive ceremony attended by the top officials of this and other governments, air stars, scientists, relatives and the old timers.
The message from President Truman was read by his Air Force aide Colonel Robert B. Landry. The plane was presented by Milton Wright, a nephew of the Wright brothers and it was accepted on behalf of the National Air Museum by Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson, also chancellor of Smithsonian Institution. Vice-president-elect Alben W. Barkley accepted the relic on behalf of the people. Ambassador Sir Oliver Franks, representative of the British Government, the previous custodian of the plane, spoke eloquently in the care of England's care of the machine and told of the events which finally brought the plane to its permanent home.
General Arnold's message referred to the "profound significance" of the "Kitty Hawk." "That power which the 'Kitty Hawk' fathered is now making the world too small to permit of selfish, separate governments much longer. The handwriting is on the wall--ultimate world government for all nations, large and small, is not beyond a possibility."
The exercises were telecast from the hall and the outside activity was broadcast in sight and sound from an airplane flying overhead.
It will be recalled the original plane had been sent to Britain by Orville Wright in 1928 during controversy with Smithsonian over the reading of the plaque on the Langley machine. The Wright plane which now hangs just inside the entrance of the Industries Building of Smithsonian bears the following statement:
The world's first power-driven
heavier-than-air machine in
which man made free, controlled,
and sustained flight
Invented and built by Wilbur and
Orville Wright, flown by them
at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina,
December 17, 1903
By original scientific research the Wright Brothers discovered the principles of human flight. As inventors, builders, and flyers they further developed the aeroplane, taught man to fly, and opened the era of aviation.
Until its exhibition a M. I. T. in 1916, the plane had been stored in the Wright's bicycle shop, had gone through the Dayton flood and had been constantly exposed to the threat of fire or oter danger since it had been shipped from Kitty Hawk in 1903.
President Lahm and several other EBs were guests of Colliers at luncheon following the presentation by President Truman of the Collier Trophy to John Stack, Lawrence D. Bell, and Capt. Charles E. Yeager, USAF pilot, for their work in the development of the X-1 and its flight beyond the speed of sound. The Trophy was established in 1911 and first presented to Glenn H. Curtiss and Orville Wright respectively, for 1911, 1912 and 1913.
The EBs joined with the Aero Club of Washington in the latter's annual dinner at the Statler. Forty years before, Lieut. F. P. Lahm, Lieut. B. D. Foulois and Orville Wright were the EBs among those present at a dinner to "Uncle Tom" Baldwin at which the Aero Club of Washington was inaugurated.
Here the EBs were more of less guests of honor for they were seated at a special head table spread across the room in front of the speakers' dais; and the program devoted a page to ..flight" who were present.
For the first time was presented the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy of the Aero Club of Washington, endowed by Godfrey L. Cabot, and awarded annually for "significant public service of enduring value to aviation"--to Dr. W. F. Durand in absentia. The annual Brewer Trophy was presented to Philip S. Hopkins for his contribution in air education of youth. Lawrence D. Bell, current co-holder of the Collier Trophy, was the guest speaker. The inimitable Fred C. Crawford, toastmaster, presented a goodly number of other awards, medals and honoraria of the N.A.A. and the F.A.I. and paid tribute to the exploits of the male and female EBs present.
Some of the scientifically inclined EBs attended the afternoon session of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences to hear the Wright Brothers Lecture "Research of Aircraft Propulsion Systems."
EB headquarters at the Statler rivaled a bee swarm in numbers and activity. Here members met other members, some for the first time. Eligibles long lost to view were present. It was a great time; according to some ecstatic witnesses it was the best ever--"most wonderful day in my life." (Lawton V. Smith). These are those present:
Arena, Ausmus, Babcock, Bangs, Barnaby, Bellinger, Bellanca, Borkland, Bryant, Alys M., Burnelli, Coffyn, Curran, Custer, Davis, Denehie, Evans, Fales, Ford, Fowler, Gray, Hall, Heard, Jones, E. L., Jones, H. M., Keane, Korn, Lahm, Laird, Law, Ruth, Loening, Macaulay, McLaughlin, Milling, Mix, Myers, Page, Post, A., Pound, Robinson, Rohlfs, Scott, Blanche, Scragg, Sikorsky, Sinclair, Smith, L. V., Snyder, Sutro, Upson, Vaughn, Waite, Wheaton, Whelan, Wright, R. M., Young.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir