TwHP Lessons

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park: Where the Wright Brothers Conquered the Air

(From top to bottom, The Wright Cycle Company and Hoover block, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park)

[Photo] Wilbur Wright as a young boy. [Photo] Orville Wright as a young boy.
(From left to right, Wilbur and Orville Wright as young boys, Dayton Public Library Special Collections)


rguably, the human imagination found its highest expression in two men from Dayton, Ohio: Wilbur and Orville Wright, first to fly a powered, heavier-than-air machine and creators of the practical airplane. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park preserves evidence of the birth of this quest for flight at The Wright Cycle Company Complex. This is where the Wright brothers operated their own printing business and, later, a bicycle shop.

The Hoover block (now called the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center), built in 1890 on the corner of West Third and South Williams Streets in Dayton, Ohio, was not only the location of a Wright brothers' printing shop, but it is one of only two properties intact today associated with the brothers' printing careers. Wilbur and Orville started their careers as printers and operated firms in four different locations outside their home. They continued the printing business in conjunction with their bicycle and aviation interests until 1899 when the printing business was sold.

The other property associated with the Wright brothers' early careers is the two-story brick structure known as The Wright Cycle Company building located at 22 South Williams Street. In their Dayton bicycle shops these two men, self-trained in the science and art of aviation, researched and built the world's first power-driven, heavier-than-air machine capable of free, controlled, and sustained flight.

Today, these two adjoining properties at The Wright Cycle Company Complex are testaments to the brothers' original occupations. Yet, these two newspaper printers and bicycle mechanics were responsible for one of the most profound and extraordinary inventions in human history: the airplane. By applying personal insight and imagination to their mechanical skills, Wilbur and Orville Wright were able to solve one of the most fascinating and perplexing questions in all of human history: "Are humans capable of achieving powered flight?"


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. From Inspired Youth to Inventors
 2. The Wright Brothers as Printers
 3. From Bicycles to Airplanes

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Interior of The Wright Cycle Company building
 2. Interior of print shop at Hoover block
 3. Interior of The Wright Cycle Company
 building, 1897

 4. Engine similar to one built and
 used by the Wrights

 5. Bicycle chain and sprocket used
 to power propellers

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Advertising for Business
 2. Learning from Experience
 3. The Roots of Invention
 4. Mentors
 5. Inventions and the Community

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Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

The lesson is based on the The Wright Cycle Company Complex, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Wright Cycle Company building has been designated a National Historic Landmark.



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