Orville Wright Sets the Record Straight About the First Flight

February 28, 1930

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Orville Wright Sets the Record Straight About the First Flight
Typed Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 728

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      Background

      To the Virginia historian Henry S. Rorer, Orville Wright, some twenty-seven years after the fact, sets the record straight on the first flight and Wright flyer, in three particulars:

      1) In the historic photo taken of the first flight ever, on December 17, 1903 he, Orville, is the pilot “on the machine” and his brother Wilbur is “running along beside the plane.”

      2) Their sister Katharine did not contribute “financially and materially toward the building of the first plane.” What she did give was great encouragement, as she had “the fullest confidence in our experiments.”

      3) Orville and Wilbur alone financed all their experiments, and even “sewed all the cloth used in our first gliders and aeroplane.”

      Orville was a plain-spoken Midwesterner, and the fuss that surrounded his epic achievement was, to him, just silly: it would not be a “pretty” story, this letter attests, if he could help it – which, really, he could not.


      Typed Letter Signed, 1 page, quarto, on his personal letterhead, Dayton Ohio, February 28, 1930. To Henry S. Rorer in Norfolk, Virginia. With typewritten transmittal envelope.
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      ORVILLE WRIGHT
      DAYTON, OHIO

      February 28, 1930.

      Mr. Henry S. Rorer,
      Department of History,
      Maury High School,
      Norfolk, Virginia.

      Dear Sir:

      Please pardon my delay in answering your letter of January 11th. I am very far behind in my correspondence.

      I am on the machine in the photograph of the first flight and my brother Wilbur is seen running along beside the plane.

      The story that my sister contributed both financially and materially toward the building of the first plane is a very pretty one, but is not true. My sister always gave us the greatest encouragement, having the fullest confidence in our experiments, but my brother and I alone financed all our experiments, and sewed all the cloth used in our first gliders and aeroplane.

      Very truly yours,
      ORVILLE WRIGHT

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      Page 2 transcript
      ORVILLE WRIGHT
      DAYTON, OHIO


      Mr. Henry S. Rorer, 
      Department of History, 
      Maury High School, 
      Norfolk, Virginia.