Flying Wrights at Huffman Prairie Flying Field

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An In-Town Tourist Feature:
…because Adventure begins in the heart and Travel starts at the end of your own driveway.

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The states of Ohio and North Carolina both lay claim to the pioneers of flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright. The compromise position has been for each to highlight their distinctive contributions. While both states feature aviation on their commemorative quarter coins, Ohio’s license plates read “Birthplace of Flight” and North Carolina’s reads “First in Flight”.

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I have twice visited coastal Kitty Hawk, where superior wind conditions aided the Wright Brothers’ first actual flights. A few years ago,  I finally had an opportunity to see an important part of Ohio’s half of the Wright Brothers’ fame: Huffman Prairie Flying Field.

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It was here that the brothers worked out steering issues for the first viable airplane, the Wright Flyer III. Commuting to the remote farm field by trolley almost daily, they erected a hangar and a catapult amongst fields of cows. These 84 acres then became the world’s first airport and where the Wright School of Aviation trained its first pilots, several of whom eventually flew for the U.S military. Nine were hired to perform in “flying circuses” for the Wright Exhibition Team in 1910. Flight remained a risky pursuit, however, and for five of the first nine, the honor was short-lived.


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12 Comments to Flying Wrights at Huffman Prairie Flying Field

  1. Phil Ross

    Neil Armstrong explains the Ohio/North Carolina aviation primacy rivalry this way: “Ohio supplied the intellect. North Carolina provided the wind.”

    I was on hand at the dedication of the Huffman Prairie site during the Centennial of Flight celebration in 2003. The proximity of one of the Wright-Pat runways made for an interesting juxtaposition, as a Wright B Flyer replica made a few circles during a brief hiatus in what was a busy schedule of fighter jet operations–the Iraq war was just a few months old at that time. Fascinating site.

  2. thank you so much!! i’m about to download from the site right now!

  3. Wow – to visit the places where flight started. One of the most world-changing inventions of the last century.

  4. I’ve not been to Wright-Patt in several years. At the time my oldest was young enough to believe they had aliens in storage there — he was a bit disappointed when one of the guides he asked told them there were no aliens to be found.

  5. Well delmer, you may never know what they have hidden in those fields :).

    I myself am a huge fan of aviation in general, and fighter planes in plarticular. I would love to go visit the place once.

  6. Hi Phil! I should have known you’d been there! What a striking contrast (and great visual description).
     
    dmdmdm: I’m glad you like!
     
    Mark: No kidding. Flight opened up the world and pretty much changed the entire way we live.
     
    Delmer: Sounds like he heard some Area 51 stories! I did hear that the guards hear strange noises from the aircraft in the hangars at night.
     
    Holiday Fan: The Air Force Museum just down the road has some incredible aircraft from every era of aviation history. Truly amazing. I haven’t seen all of it yet and plan to return soon.

  7. THE GUYS

    Not much job security for those first pilots. Some brave souls to be sure.

    An interesting read Heather.

    Have a good day.

  8. very informative post thank you.

  9. Another page of American history…

  10. I had visited coastal Kitty Hawk to. I will search for the photos and I will share them with you.
    Have a nice day.

  11. Such an evocative place! I love that a field full of cows became the world’s first airport.

  12. I’d love to see your Kittyhawk photos, Cazare. Hoping that Hurricane Irene didn’t destroy any of the important aviation history there.

    Isn’t that great, Tandenknarsen? The cows were but one more challenge for the Wrights to work around on their course toward human flight.

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