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The Dayton Flight Factory: the Wright Brothers & the Birth of Aviation

8 July 2014

The Dayton Flight Factory: the Wright Brothers & the Birth of Aviation

The Dayton Flight Factory: the Wright Brothers & the Birth of Aviation, Timothy R. Gaffney, 2014, ISBN  978-1-62619-356-7, 171 pp.

The Dayton Flight Factory: the Wright Brothers & the Birth of Aviation by Timothy R. Gaffney

The Dayton Flight Factory: the Wright Brothers & the Birth of Aviation by Timothy R. Gaffney

This is the book to bring with you when on a Wright Brothers-trek to Dayton Ohio. It is a convenient size, well made and has all the places to see (more than you might think) as well as the understanding behind them. Gaffney, naturally, writes a descriptive history of the Wright Brothers’ accomplishments, how they went about their business as well as various people who became involved.

This is not a definitive history, nor did the author intend it to be. The infamous lawsuits initiated by the Wrights are mentioned though their adverse public perception is not — nor is the intervention by no less than Henry Ford on the behalf of Glenn Curtiss. Glenn Curtiss is portrayed by Gaffney as a person who took what the Wrights did then ran with it and not as the innovator for naval aviation who advanced U.S. aeronautics in the early 1900s in ways the Wrights did not or could not (ironically, they were trapped by their own patent lawsuits into a dead end design). Although Gaffney mentions the last Wright airplane design was in 1914 (barely a decade after their history making flights), and woefully behind those of Europe — he does not mention their prescient achievements borne today in every aircraft design and that is their engineering approach to aerodynamics. Nor does he discuss the paradigm change they made to propeller design which is still in use today. Those subjects are left to other books, though, as this is a guide.

This book is a definitive guide to the Wright Brothers and Dayton Ohio, and it is charming as well as illustrative, and should be in every aviation enthusiast’s kit when travelling to Dayton where the first aircraft to achieve both controlled as well as powered flight was conceived. Huffman Prairie, the workshop, the factory as well as the stories behind them are all within the book. Gaffney’s descriptions are captivating and inspiring — the photos are extraordinarily well done which is remarkable considering their age as they thankfully look pristine.

Notably, and as a rare treat, Gaffney delves into the seaplane and floatplane designs of the Wright Brothers which has not been addressed with Gaffney’s detail in recent memory. The author should be commended for preventing this aspect of aviation’s history from slipping away.

Chapter 11, the final chapter, is simply amazing with its list of sites (meanings and locations) as most enthusiasts will likely not know all of them. Gaffney’s contribution here should be commended as well.

This is the guide to bring with you to Dayton — no doubt 🙂


As is the publishing business custom, The History Press provided a copy of this book for an objective review.

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